Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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kronckew 19th June 2019 07:04 AM

Yet another wotsit.
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Found this item at a local antiques dealer. He had no idea what it was. Other than it's obviously a well made and well balanced weapon I also have no idea who made it, what it's designed for, when it was made, or where. The sword is 34.5 in. long overall. The blade edges are only sharp in the tip section if front of the thick diamond x-section, and is in part blued. Looks like it once the whole blade was blued.

As a wild guess it looks like a cross between a sword breaker, a rapier, and a very long parrying dagger/sword catcher, and the guard looks vaguely oriental to me. The brass spiral grip looks like a European briquette sword. It was obvious made this way deliberately as a whole and not a marriage of spare parts. There may be a makers mark hidden under one of the short 'languettes' which I can't make out, might be easier after I clean it up a bit.

ny info anyone can supply will be appreciated, and thanks in advance...

Victrix 19th June 2019 07:24 AM

It looks like a more recent/modern version of an estoc/panzerstecker? I never saw one with a brass grip before and they are typically longer. I posted pictures of my antique one here in post #15 The style of the cross guard is similar shape but yours is cruder. This type of cross guard was popular in E.Europe in 17thC.

kronckew 19th June 2019 07:35 AM

Thanks again for that.

European troops wore armour well into the 19c (and still do for ceremonial occasions), mine would be handy for thrusting into the unprotected bits of a curassier, or a 17c turk in mail. the brass grip was cast to fit this weapon, balances it nicely, and the length would suit an infantry officer more than a cavalryman i suspect. Looks simpler than the estocs in the ref. post above, but couple have similar more finished guards. Mine looks more like a ;munitions' grade, well made but not for a high ranking (and rich) noble.

I note in the 'estoc' wikipedia entry they mention them being simply hung on the owner's horse harness, the front of the guard would facilitate that or being used as a belt hook. It also notes that infantry would also carry them, also for penetrating mail and i would assume a shorter version like mine. It mentions the portion nehind the tip being unsharpened and their use two handed with the off hand in front of the guard, which could be done with mine to better guide it in for a coup de gr‚ce.

Infantry Estoc/koncerz a possibility then...

Victrix 19th June 2019 08:58 AM

Yours doesnít look very Hungarian (e.g. grip, pommel) so I wouldnít rule out Indian origins although my knowledge of the latter is very limited. That kind of brass grip looks quite early 19thC to me.

Kmaddock 19th June 2019 10:23 AM

A wild guess with nothing to substantiate it would be a sword for bull fighting?
Interesting item and the brass handle does look to have some good age to it

M ELEY 19th June 2019 01:50 PM

Perhaps the handle is a more modern replacement? The cross guard and blade seem to show honest aging. A nice piece, but also a puzzle- :shrug:

kronckew 19th June 2019 04:21 PM

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The dealer was fairly certain the brass handle was specifically designed for balancing this piece.It could of course been a later but still antique replacement.

Doubt it was a Bull fighting sword. Too stiff & narrow. Could be a boar hunting sword tho, but they generally have wider blades. example below. These are also 'estoc'.

Victrix 19th June 2019 06:05 PM

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Dealers may say a lot of things. The grip looks like an 18th or 19thC infantry manís hanger. The guard looks a bit outsize but maybe just my imagination? When encountering items of brass itís always good to consider the possibility of naval use as brass does not corrode nor rot in salt water.

Jim McDougall 23rd June 2019 12:48 AM

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I think there is a compelling similarity with these alternating quillons on the guard to certain Chinese sword hilts on dadao (mostly ring pommel types) and some of the 'butterfly' knives (paired).

These types of edged weapons were used by Chinese martial artists and often security forces who worked as protective guards in various capacities and sometimes with foreign firms.

The distinct similarity to British infantry hangers is well noted in those of mid to latter 18th c. (typically regarded as M1742 and M1751 though they were in use long before these dates).
* Thomas Craven was a maker c.1800+ and the acceptance marks put the example shown about then, revealing how long these patterns remained in use in some cases.

I am unsure whether this hilt is authentically from one of these swords or copied (cast) from one, but the hilt style is as described but again, with the European pointed escutcheon in the crossguard center.

It seems possible that certain Chinese factions as mentioned did work with foreign colonial occupiers, though of course by the time of the Boxer Rebellion the weapons of foreign 'devils' were scorned. I have seen various cases of cross influence, and even British M1796 disc hilts with Chinese markings and inscriptions.

kronckew 23rd June 2019 06:42 AM

Interesting, I'd initially thought the guard was Chinese looking. The Brass grip looks cast to fit the guard but could have been copied as it doesn't look cut off from something else and it balances the blade nicely. The unmarked thrusting only type blade remains a bit unknown. would like to have seen the scabbard, would have answered a few questions. Thanks,Jim & y'all.

Jim McDougall 23rd June 2019 11:58 PM

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Thoroughly interested in this weapon, I looked further:
Apparantly in South China, where a great deal of foreign influences converged in the regions of Canton, there were forms of Kung Fu which included use of paired edged weapons, usually knives termed 'hudie shuang dao'. These were commonly termed butterfly knives as they were typically encased in pairs but not to be confused with the Filipino folding knife (balisong).

One reference notes that some had a 'long narrow blade that emphasized stabbing" . It was noted that some of these were termed 'red boat' knives having to do with 'Red Boat' (red colored junk) opera troupes who performed as a cover while practicing as subversive revolutionaries covertly, and these kinds of weapons. The illustrated painting is not specifically shown as representing these persons, but to illustrate the variations of paired edged weapons known used by such martial artists.

In any case, during the First Opium War (1839-42) many conflicts were situated in Canton regions. Here we can see the potential for European influences, as seen as mentioned in other cases as the 'butterfly' knife sets with knuckleguard. It would not seem far fetched that these Chinese martial arts weapons might adopt other hilt features (as cast ribbed grips) as well.

While we cannot say specifically that this is one of these Chinese knives, the purpose of this information on possible Chinese association is for the benefit of evaluation by those interested here.

kronckew 25th June 2019 06:59 AM

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My Qing Dynasty 'hudie shuang dao' - Pirate swords. mid-18c before they started the double sword bit and they started getting wider and with off centre points like the 'modern' ones.

These are NOT huidi dao 'butterfly' knives as they are singletons instead of a matched pair with half hilts that fit the same scabbard. These have full oval x-section checkered grips and wider brass guards.

The top one is a thrusting version, the slightly longer bottom is a much thicker and heavier cutting one. they are unlike the wotsit. I think the guard shape is coincidental parallel evolution, still think it's a European custom item made to a specific requirement.

I̶ ̶s̶u̶s̶p̶e̶c̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶'̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶s̶h̶i̶p̶'̶ ̶r̶e̶f̶e̶r̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶f̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶l̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶l̶a̶t̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶'̶s̶ ̶d̶e̶c̶k̶s̶ ̶a̶f̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶v̶e̶.̶ ̶:̶(̶


I knew I'd heard 'red boats' somewhere. I seem to recall visiting one in Hong Kong...memory fading tho. Red is the colour of good luck and happiness.

Cantonese 'red boats' were Showboata carrying Chinese Opera actors around the areas rivers, bit like the showboats on the Mississippi. They used Kung Fu in their styalised stories.

I made & added the chinese butterfly sword knot because I thought it fit. ;)

Jim McDougall 27th June 2019 02:57 AM

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Finally found this image of a Chinese (presumably martial artist) man with two of these long weapons used in pair.

kronckew 27th June 2019 06:50 AM

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had to rename that to add the .jpg extension.

They look like a chinese sword breaker (Gan/Garn) posted elsewhere here.

A overly lengthy Chinese demo

your painting from above and that breaker:

mariusgmioc 27th June 2019 09:37 AM

Originally Posted by kronckew
The dealer was fairly certain the brass handle was specifically designed for balancing this piece.It could of course been a later but still antique replacement.

Doubt it was a Bull fighting sword. Too stiff & narrow. Could be a boar hunting sword tho, but they generally have wider blades. example below. These are also 'estoc'.

I cannot say much about the sword in the original posting, but the one in your posting is a typical matador sword.

Jim McDougall 28th June 2019 12:28 PM

Originally Posted by kronckew
had to rename that to add the .jpg extension.

They look like a chinese sword breaker (Gan/Garn) posted elsewhere here.

A overly lengthy Chinese demo

your painting from above and that breaker:

Wayne thank you for the adjustment :) I sort of missed doing that .
Good observation on the breaker, and very well might be, I just saw a guy holding two straight 'bladed' things and thought of the two handed posture.

Great pic of the red 'showboat'!! Really appreciate the dimension of these weapons in these contexts.

kronckew 28th June 2019 06:40 PM

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More red 'Show-boat' stuff:

Note the Wing Chun kung-fu ''mok yan chong'' practice tree on the bow of the model. The lady is one of the few Chinese opera stars of her age (most were actually men in drag) from the 1920's. She was the only one allowed to train with real weapons. Note the butterfly swords that had already degenerated to the off centre tip versions, pretty much restricted to slicing only, unlike the Qing singleton ones of mine above.

Will M 28th June 2019 08:12 PM

I've seen something quite similar before and it was a fireplace poker. It could well be part of a Victorian fireplace set. Surplus sword blades and hilts were repurposed for quite a few things from pokers to candle sticks as were bayonets.

Jim McDougall 30th June 2019 07:41 PM

Chinese martial arts hilt style alternating quillons
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While the look into Chinese martial arts and their weapons has led down some interesting cultural aspects of China, I wanted to add images of the weapon which I had in mind in considering this alternating quillon hilt guard.

This is a dadao, termed BaGwa Qi Dao, and of mid Qing style, believed to be from the period of the Buddhist Millenarian Rebellion (1813). Without elaborating on markings etc. it is the form that is key and suggests the influence for this interesting weapon.

While many items were of course fashioned into sundry implements, tools etc. such as fireplace pokers, candlesticks, and so on, the blade on this suggests more of an intended weapon with parrying capacity.

kronckew 1st July 2019 06:39 PM

Well, I've dissembled a bit. The sword was not yet in my hands before. It arrived to day from my actually remote dealer (:D), so I can post a bit more detail.

Sword is cool, obviously a weapon, It's a proper sword blade. Blade is springy, but not too much, and obviously been blued tho not decorated with engraving or gold. Has a few age spots. The blade has a butter knife edge sharpness with a central ridge to the foible, which appears to have a sharper edge, which I will sharpen a bit more for about 6 in. Guard is made in one piece and fitted precisely to the blade. It has some pitting & rust to remove. but not much. The brass grip balances the weapon about an inch in front of the guard, I found myself fingering the guard. It's just the right length so it doesn't hit the ground with a low parry.

It doesn't look GI, whatever government it's owner served, It appears to be a good blade for a walk around town where things might go bump in an alley, or for the bedroom if you have unexpected guests in your manor house or castle. Or a no nonsense duel. This sword will KEEL!

28in. blade, 3/4 in. wide at the guard, 3+mm thick at the ricasso which is about 3in. long before transitioning smoothly to the edge. the iron guard is 5 in. across, the bent bits about 4.5 in., 1/2 in x 1/4 in. where they join the central piece fitted over the blade which is roughly 1/2 x 5/8 x 1 1/2in. Brass grip is 5 1/4 in. long guard ti peened end. weight is 834 grams or 1.84 lb., so not a light weight. As noted before, the balance is 1 in. ahead of the pointy bit of the guard. One side appears to have something stamped under the short pointy guard thing which is not quite a languet, but it's mostly covered and indecipherable.

Can take more pics now if interested...

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