Interesting Antique Double Jian

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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bond_fan
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Interesting Antique Double Jian

Post by bond_fan » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:57 pm

I have not seen a great many antique Chinese jian in person, as they are fairly hard to find. However, I have seen many pictured in books and photos from different web sites where they were either for sale or in someone's collection.

I have noticed many of the longer antique jian from the Qing - Republic periods have what is characteristically known as the Ace of Spades designed guard, though to me the pommel looks more like an Ace of Spades. By far of the jian I have seen most are singles. I have seen approximately 10 double sets, but for the most part these are shorter blades, 18" - 24" long with one side have a diamond raised section in the middle and the other side being flat to accommodate both blades in one scabbard.

Recently, I was able to see a set of the more uncommon double jian in that the lengths that are preferred by Westerners, 27" +. This set has 31" blades with raised diamond sections on both sides of each blade, though the interior of the handles are flat, while the exterior handles are more round. The blades are sharp. These are not some flimsy aluminum Wu Shu swords!

With the scabbard the set weighs about 4.5 pounds, with each blade about 1.5 pounds +. My scale is a typical bathroom scale though, so I hope to weigh them on a more accurate postal scale.

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The public side of each blade has a different scene, one showing a bird in a tree and the other looks like chrysanthemums, while the interiors have Chinese characters. Two of the bottom characters on the top jian are barely readable. I don't know what they mean, but I would imagine they mean something like Green Dragon Sword or something like that? It seems like a lot of the Chinese characters place on swords from these periods have Buddhist or Taoist inscriptions or describe the attributes of the sword or owner. These are typically placed on the forte of the blade. Can anyone provide a translation?

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Perhaps if someone has seen more of these types of swords they might have more to add. In the book Iron and Steel Swords of China many of the jian pictured in the Republic section have similar designs as these. The fittings are plain, with guards and pommels having an Ace of Spades style with designs on either a flat or a raised diamond middle section of the forte.

I wish I could understand what the author wrote in his book, so I could further educate myself on these swords.

josh stout
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Re: Interesting Antique Double Jian

Post by josh stout » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:37 am

I would also call these republican shuang jian. The etched decorations look very nice and are quite typical. Can you tell me if they are also nickel plated? This seems not uncommon for the period. The blades could be a wide range of quality. I recently bought a similar single jian (it was not cheap), and was a bit disappointed in the quality. When I hit the pommel, the blade vibrated in a dull way, indicating that it is probably soft steel without heat treatment. This was strange because the blade showed the cloudy bright steel at the edge that I associate with tempering. There was a similar double set at Timonium a few years ago with inferior dead feeling blades and an insane asking price. While jian from this period can look very nice, they are young enough to be complete and in good condition, I would be cautious unless you get to feel it first.

Still, one of the best jian I ever held was from the same period. It had well carved decorations and a heavy blade with multiple fullers. The whole thing confused me for a while because it was more like what you hear about in oral histories than regular antiques. It weighed about five pounds, the tip rang like a bell and was thin and razor sharp while the body was thick and less finely honed. I suspect it was a custom training piece.

Most of the examples on the market were I think more intended for show.
Josh
hidup itu silat, silat itu hidup

-Suhu

bond_fan
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Re: Interesting Antique Double Jian

Post by bond_fan » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:49 pm

All I can say is I believe they are nickle plated, which means it was done probably pre-1970's. From what I learned about vintage guitars, when metal is nickle plated it tends to have a yellowish reflection, while chrome has a blueish reflection.

I plan on showing the jian to a person who does chrome and reverse plating to see about removing the plating. This may present a problem, since the characters and pictures are etched on. Does anyone have any idea if the plating was removed if it would damage the characters and artwork?

As far as the blades being dead I don't think they are. I hit the pommels and the jian vibrated much in the same way as my new Huanuo jian did for about two - three seconds depending on how hard I hit it.

I bought a pair of short shuang jian which appeared to be from the Qing dynasty a few years back. These looked in mint condition with green rayskin scabbard, the lizard scabbard fitting and bat guard, but when I got them the blades were the non-heat treated ones you are referring to and were easily bent. They weren't polished either and had file marks still on the blades. I returned them for a refund.

Also, when the hanging tips are struck with metal while holding the blade with two fingers by the pommel, one blade rings more than the other. It is similar to the ring I get when I do the same test with my Huanuo jian.

Unfortunately, at 31" the blades are a tad too long for me.

josh stout
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Re: Interesting Antique Double Jian

Post by josh stout » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:08 pm

They sound quite nice. I think they are exactly what they appear to be, a nice set of Republican shuang jian. Extra long blades were in fashion along with all the other things like nickel plating and etched designs. I am glad for you that the blades are good quality, but I think it might be better to leave the nickel in place.
Josh
hidup itu silat, silat itu hidup

-Suhu

bond_fan
Rank: Chang San feng
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Re: Interesting Antique Double Jian

Post by bond_fan » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:02 pm

I showed the jian to a person who does the removing of nickle and chrome and he said all the three swords I showed him were nickle plated. He said the actual steel was visible where the etching was done on the blades by where the characters and pictures were etched.

Another person read the characters and he said both sets of characters mean Qing Gang Jian (Blue or Green Steel Sword), though the calligraphy was written two different ways on each sword.

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I wonder what the significance of identifying the swords as being Qing Gang Jian is?

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