Silk Road Museum, Seoul

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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Peter Dekker
Rank: Chang San feng
Rank: Chang San feng
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Silk Road Museum, Seoul

Post by Peter Dekker » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:59 pm

During a recent trip to Korea I visited a gem of a museum in a Seoul suburb, the Silk Road Museum. It is a small, hard to find place that I had been tipped to by a fellow archery researcher, Jack Farrell, who was attending the same festival in Korea.

Upon entering, it is like one goes back in time with 19th century trunks and horse gear lying all over the place along with bows, arrows, arrowheads, cannon, muskets, and what not covering a period of about 500 B.C. up to the late 19th century.

A true delight was to see one of the few existing examples of a Scythian bow. These bows are depicted on Greek art, mainly pottery, and their dramatic shape has lead many researchers and bowyers to believe that the artist had taken some freedom in its depiction. Many modern-day replicas were made, softening out the strong curves and making the bow more symmetrical. What was striking then, was that the bow exactly like how it was depicted on the pottery, accurate up to the degrees of the handles at the tips and at both sides of the handle.

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Scythian bow in Sil Road Museum, Seoul. It is well over 2000 years old.

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The same bow on Greek pottery.

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Scythia, where the Scythian nomadic tribes roamed. To its far west overlaps what is now Xinjiang and Tibet. Another one of these bows was found in Xinjiang.

Some impressions of the museum:
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Boxes and goodies were everywhere..

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A crudely made cannon bearing Tongzhi reign marks, placing it in the early 60's of the 19th century.

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A fine selection of Chinese "swivel-cannon".

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Two "mother-and-son guns" with cartridges. Against the wall a selection of Chinese pistols, most seem to be imitations of Western guns of the time.

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Some small firearms. Indeed, all have barrels and a hole for the fuse, even the two bian and the two "iron rulers"!

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Some bone whistle heads used for hunting, probably Jurchen. Most of these designs were used in nearly unaltered form by the later "Manchu" Qing, who were descendants of the Jurchen.

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Some more whistlers and odd heads, these are all-iron constructions. The shapes are also found in Liao / Jin (Jurchen) graves, and appear to be for the most part exclusive to these peoples.

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Jurchen hunting heads. The ones with the prongs are often identified as fire arrows, and while reference to these arrows exists there is no way of telling how they looked like. This exact form however, appears in the Qing huangchao liqi tushi and da qing huidian as a hunting head designed to hunt rabbits. The whistles on many of these also wouldn't make sense on a fire arrow, but would help stall the rabbit from the moment of release.

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

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