EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Outstanding notes Kukulz, and thank you for the cited references, beautifully done. I like the observations on the scholars jian, which are well placed in perspective, and really help in understanding more of thier context. It is interesting when considered alongside the studies of fencing and advanced education of nobility and gentry in Europe etc. in more recent times.
Very good points and queries on the 'river pirates' and you are quite right about thier contact as far as the Philippines. I am not sure if the same perspective might be applied to the Chinese pirates as the more familiar European pirates of the 'Golden Age' of late 17th into early 18th century as far as motivation or skills in weaponry. I think there were of course varying degrees of application as previously noted, as piracy is a very broad topic which has been well known in most cultures from early times. Whether Vikings, Cossacks, Barbary Pirates, Privateers, Ladrones or various Asian 'river pirates', all had broadly interpreted lifestyles and probably a wide spectrum of participants.
I certainly dont believe that most pirates in the sense most familiar, were especially well trained in fighting or use of weapons. Most accounts of pirates I have known seem to suggest that pirates in most cases used all manner of ploys and intimidation in subduing thier prey, and would avoid targets that were excessively formidable. Naturally, there were groups or individuals who did become understandably seasoned and ruthless if they survived long enough to ply the 'trade' for a time.
With this being the case, I would imagine that such weapons as the hu die shuang dao were probably seen occasionally among river pirates, much as all manner of weaponry would have been. While piracy is often romanticized and associated with heroic or patriotic tales, in truth it is largely a social phenomenon which obviously entreated a wide assortment of miscreants and misfits from all walks of life. Certainly the criminal element prevailed, as well as those who had somehow come from failed positions even from upper classes.
With these wide degrees of pedigree, I would say equally wide degree of skills, education, character and ideals, or lack of, would have existed together, but the ultimate goal would have been largely the same...survival.
Nathaniel, thank you for adding the additional terms. While trying to learn more on these topics, it really helps to build a sort of glossary, as the terms often get confusing.
All very best regards,