Really Qianlong Era 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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Really Qianlong Era Jian?

Post by bond_fan » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:38 pm

Hi All,

There was a Chinese jian that recently sold for over $4,600.00 USD on eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... MEWAX%3AIT), that the seller claimed to be late 18th century. He included documentation from a book, Weapon A Visual History of Arms and Armor, that showed a similar sword, which was purported to be from Qianlong era. In my opinion both the seller and the author are incorrect and the swords from the auction and book appear to be from the late Qing - Republic period.

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My reasons are as follows:

1. The tip of the blade is much too pointed and the length from the blade to the tip is too long as well. These types of pointed jian tips appeared in the latter Qing - Republic period.

2. The guard and pommel featuring the Ace of Spades style appeared later in the Qing - Republic period.

3. The carving of the fittings are much too crude to be from Qianlong era. If one notes the fittings on the scabbard appear to be open-work. One would expect high quality open-work carving, which these are not. In fact file marks can be seen all over the top of the fittings.

4. It appears that the blade wasn't even fully finished or polished, as one can see file marks all over the blade in which the designs were inlaid afterward. I have inspected photos from Book 56 Armaments and Provisions from the Palace Museum of daos and jians from Qianlong's collection and it appears the blades were all completely finished before the designs were inlaid on them.

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To me the above are all signs of a later piece.

If one looks at the guard below from a jian for sale by a dealer in Holland one can easily see how much more of a high quality fitting this is in comparison to the one on eBay.

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Additionally, when I asked the seller a bunch of questions about the sword well in advance to the close of the auction he never wrote back, nor were any questions answered in the listing. To me this seemed like someone was being ignorant on purpose. In any event I'd love to hear your opinions.

Scott M. Rodell
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Really Qianlong Era Jian? -NO!

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:10 am

The simple answer is NO!

I remember when we use to come across one of these bazaar, souvenir type swords at nearly every gun show. You couldn't sell 'em for a hundred bucks. Then Huang Fu got one & actually beleived it was a real Qianlong era jian & put it in his book, even though Philip Tom & I explain to him on the SFI forum, many years ago, that they were late 19th/early 20th century pieces made to sell to tourists. But some people just don't want to learn & a fool & his money soon part ways.

In short, these "jian," & I use the term very lightly here, are made of the flimsy, soft steel with very bendable blades. These blades are NOTHING like the blade of a real jian from any era, Qianlong or otherwise. The silver wire decorations on the blades are of pedestrian quality & the other all construction is poor. Really, these things are a dime a dozen for those in the know.

As for the book, Weapon A Visual History of Arms and Armor, the chapter that included Chinese arms was written by an expert in antique arms who was not as expert in Chinese arms & just took it at face value. A big mistake & he should have known better. But back when it was written, almost no scholarly study of Chinese arms had been done, there still is very little. It would be be like my writing as article about African arms from what I found in some early books. Any expert in Antique arms is only an expert in his or her area, not all antique arms.

bond_fan
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Re: Really Qianlong Era Jian?

Post by bond_fan » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:56 pm

Just as I suspected.

Nik
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Re: Really Qianlong Era Jian?

Post by Nik » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:01 am

Is it safe to assume that a sword with that many drawings and engravings with no sign of well done steel pattern would always be a late tourist or ceremonial sword ? Or have there been such examples with large hanzi and pictograms hammered into the surface on an actual nobility sword with a well done sanmei blade ?

bond_fan
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Re: Really Qianlong Era Jian?

Post by bond_fan » Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:45 pm

I have inspected photos from Book 56 Armaments and Provisions from the Palace Museum of daos and jians from Qianlong's collection and it appears the blades were all completely finished before the designs were inlaid on them.
Nik, as I wrote in my above description from the original post it appears the daos & jians from the Palace Museum were quality blades with the designs inlaid on them after the fact. Obviously, I can't know for sure without close inspection, but the steel of the swords in the photos appear more silvery in color, which to me they look like higher quality swords.

I would recommend anyone who likes collecting swords check out Book 56 Armaments and Provisions from the Palace Museum, which I bought from Paragon Books, Chicago, IL (http://www.paragonbook.com).

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Re: Really Qianlong Era Jian?

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:13 am

Nik wrote:Is it safe to assume that a sword with that many drawings and engravings with no sign of well done steel pattern would always be a late tourist or ceremonial sword ? Or have there been such examples with large hanzi and pictograms hammered into the surface on an actual nobility sword with a well done sanmei blade ?
I would give a qualified "Yes" to your question. The few daoist ritual sword I've handled, that had highly decorated blades, all had good quality, pattern welded blades & were overall of very good quality from fittings to scabbard material.

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