Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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josh stout 1st February 2008 02:34 PM

village made shuang shou jian
This is an extremely rare two-handed jian. I am not completely clear on the difference between a long handled chang jian, and a true shuang shou jian, but this one was clearly designed for two hands. The condition is not so great with a few cracks along the edge; nevertheless, I was excited to find such a thing due to its rarity.

The jian has a 71 cm blade and is 98 cm overall. The style is clearly Ming, but the patina indicates late 18th or early 19th c. The pommel is identical in style to those seen with Ming tomb figures, but perhaps a little smaller than the true Ming examples. Ming shuang shou jian are also reputed to have even longer blades.

RSWORD 1st February 2008 06:18 PM

Even though there are no close up shots of the blade one can still see some distinct layering along the edge in one of the pictures. Have you put a file to the edge to test the hardness? A sword of this period would certainly have hardened edges but given the nice layering in the one shot I suspect the edges will be hardened.

josh stout 2nd February 2008 01:46 PM

I have never been very good at testing edge hardness, but a few times when I have polished things I have noticed when edges are super hard. In this case I was not planning any polishing or etching because I would be afraid it would make the small cracks along the edge more noticeable.

There is certainly lamination along the body of the blade and the typical sanmai edge plate. There is also a lighter area along each edge that looks like the effects of differential heat-treating. I have never quite understood why the Chinese did this belt and suspenders approach to edge hardness, when it seems that either high carbon or differential heating/cooling would have the same result. Still it is quite typical. In this case I suspect the edges will be quite hard. The small cracks are what one tends to see on very hard steel. Also the cracks all stop when they hit the softer body of the blade.

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