Wide-bladed pair with eccentric hilt features. Complete with scabbard.
Height 15 cm
Diameter 29 cm
Bamboo, rattan, pigments, copper, linen cord, metal wire
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A conical bamboo helmet with slightly convex sides. Made of strips of bamboo, held together with rattan. The lining is rattan basket weave. This type is the archetype Southern-style helmet that was used by soldiers and militiamen.
This particular example has a red painted rim and red, black, blue, white painted top. These are likely markings that belong to a specific unit. There is also an old label stating "160 China". It looks much like some labels found on pieces offered in the 1980s in state-run "Friendship stores" that catered to tourists, diplomats, and expats in China.
This helmet still retains its original straps, tied to Guangxu period (1875-1908) coins.
This type of bamboo helmet is abundant in mid-19th century photographs of Southern military and militia units, as well as martial artists.
Upper row, left to right:
Martial artist with húdiédāo 1860s. Photo by G. Harrison Gray.
Two soldiers with húdiédāo. Probably 1860s. Photographer Pun Lun.
Group of soldiers. Southern China. Late 19th century. Unknown photographer.
Guangzhou militiamen, circa 1855-1860. Unknown photographer.
If there is a hat that belongs to húdiédāo, it is this one.
The latter two come with a note that casually mentions they were obtained with some skulls:
"Transferred to General Antiquities Dept. in 1846 from Department of Natural History.
Purchased at Stevens's Sale rooms with some skulls".
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A set of the rarer long and wide variety with very well-carved hilts and good overall finish.
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Canton work for the Japanese market, with 28 metal balls in separate compartments.
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