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Old 15th May 2018, 09:21 AM   #1
Ian
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Default Asian polearms

Six items from the same seller recently finished online. They drew a lot of interest in terms of bidding. Each piece was the head of a polearm and of a socketed construction. After talking wth a couple of folks on this forum, the consensus was they were Chinese or Vietnamese in origin.

Thoughts and comments?

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Old 15th May 2018, 09:35 AM   #2
colin henshaw
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An interesting group, pity they don't have the shafts. I think the fourth one down is Chinese for hunting tigers ??

Others on the forum will know more I am sure.
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Old 15th May 2018, 11:29 AM   #3
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
... I think the fourth one down is Chinese for hunting tigers ??

So it is indeed, Colin; although it is noted that these tridents were also used for combat ... as i have spotted a soldier of a high official's escort holding one of these.
On the other hand, one (or two) of the other examples posted by Ian don't seem to be that practical for effective use; but cultures are as they are, in a way that they may transcend practicability. This from the perspective of a Westerner, of course; and one that knows zero about these things .


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Old 15th May 2018, 12:37 PM   #4
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Truly an amazing collection of Chinese spearheads; congratulations!
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Old 15th May 2018, 01:44 PM   #5
Ian
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The seller noted that these were de-accessioned museum pieces.
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Old 15th May 2018, 08:33 PM   #6
Philip
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I had a conversation about these years ago with Thom Richardson of the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds. When I pointed out that I have encountered a great number of these over the years in sets varying from a half dozen to eight (less if some were missing), and it appeared to me that many of them were never sharpened to begin with and are not well-balanced for use, he pointed out something interesting. Apparently, these were made in sets (you can tell when all of them stand the same height and the solid shanks between the blades and sockets have identical file work) for the curio trade. Yep, as decorator items, complete with carved stands, to satisfy the same Victorian fancy for panoplies of arms for interior decoration. Apparently, the Chinese found a market niche just as Indian craftsmen made somewhat oversized and overdecorated items for commercial sale.

On one occasion I had need to clean and remount a set of these for a collector, on new shafts. The edges of the blades were untempered. On fighting weapons, the edges are of a distinctly harder steel that is visible when polished.

A few years in London I attended a sale at Holts Auctioneers, a firm that sells mostly sporting guns and some antique weapons. There was a complete set of exactly this type of polearm, with the stand. It wasn't for sale at the time (wasn't interested in buying them anyway since my home doesn't have a smoking or billiard room that could use this sort of exotic decor) but I understand that in a subsequent auction they went on the block and were sold.

The tridents are commonly called "tiger forks" but I doubt that if this was indeed their purpose, there weren't enough tigers in all of China to warrant making this many of them. There are real tiger spears in the Forbidden City Museum and they have very stout yet compact heads reminiscent of European boar spears. Or some of the bronze socketed spearheads of China's antiquity. They even have the rawhide thongs with sections of antler to limit the penetration of the head into the animal so it doesn't run up the shaft and take a nip out of the hunter. Such weapons are listed in the inventory of regulations pertaining to imperial regalia, the HUANGCHAO LIQI TUSHI, as tiger spears so there is no doubt what they are. They are also depicted in paintings of hunting scenes, being used alongside matchlock guns. No tridents.
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Old 21st May 2018, 04:04 PM   #7
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You see allot of these in the background of old martial arts school photos from the 30s. Nevertheless, I agree that they were for show though rather than practice. I think they were sort of an expected backdrop for any school. Similar sets are sometimes associated with "temples", but still in a martial arts context. These don't show definitive Vietnamese scroll work, but I think that might be their origin. It is hard to tell, the martial arts community of the Chinese diaspora in South East Asia had a very similar aesthetic. I have seen what look like identical examples in old photos from Indonesia.

Sets like this are still being made but are generally heavier and cruder.
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Old 25th May 2018, 10:40 PM   #8
ShazamsLaw
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Default Top blade

The Top blade could be igorot perhaps?
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Old 9th June 2018, 03:36 AM   #9
ausjulius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShazamsLaw
The Top blade could be igorot perhaps?

its from china vietname or thailand burma ect those area igorot spears have no socket but only a tang like a japanese spear.
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