Join Date: Oct 2007
Some very good questions
Some very good questions and to fully answer these some other learned collectors may wish to come in.
The form and function of the weapon enables it to be used in unison as an offence and a defence. in very tight/ confined situations.
From the historical images I have on file it appears in a number of cases that these were a very serious combat weapon though not military in nature.
They have been referred to as river pirate swords by many and although unknown to me as factual, it is very plausible that they were used in this way.
I say this because of the images I have are from Taipei in the hands of militia, the photos date to the 1850/60s with providence and Taiwan being water locked, it presents itself as possible though not limited too being used aboard boats/ships.
I have seen images of the shorter style used in civilian hands in street performances and I surmise that the shorter pair presented, although far thicker than modern equivalents could well have also been related to a form of Wing Chun Kungfu as we know it today.
It is fair to say only based on the photos I have seen, this is mostly a Southern weapon as they appear in images from Taipei mentioned above. There is also an image of Chinaman who immigrated to America available on the net somewhere (I can't put my finger on the link), who is using a pair of these, the article from memory may or may not indicate from where he came but if it does, it may also help establish firmer origins of these weapons.
These pieces I have here are heavy and very well made weapons, all thick in the spinal area, some being 3/8th of an inch some being 1/2 and inch. Lengths range from 16&1/2 to 24 inches long. All with distal taper, some with clipped hatchet points, others with penetrating needle points, most with large thick bronze/brass hooked guards, one with an iron guard.
They all feel very powerful and manageable in the hand and they are all very well forged and fabricated, most present a very nice fire like lamination in the steel, the longer iron guarded ones almost look horse tooth lamination to some degree though I have never cleaned any of these as yet.
One thing that has come to light whilst playing with these weapons it the effectiveness in tight narrow alleys, hallways or rooms, they manoeuvre well and confidence is greatly improved in these situations so they most likely saw a lot of use in the back streets and alleys of greater China and the USA too I would think.
Below are images from a couple of other angles.