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Old 15th September 2014, 03:35 AM   #1
Shakethetrees
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Default Chinese (or other country) sai/parrying weapon

I've been struggling with this one for a long time.

It's entirely hand wrought iron and I would have no problem assigning an 18th/19th century date.

I'm sure the grip was wrapped at one time.

Any information y'all have will be appreciated, nationality, an accurate name for it, etc.

I suspect it's a KungFu or other discipline weapon, but I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 15th September 2014, 10:13 PM   #2
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Seems like a sturdy, genuine piece.

The pommel looks Chinese to me.

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Old 15th September 2014, 10:28 PM   #3
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Chinese bijiacha (literally it means the "rack for the bruch").

Could be paired or used in single veriant. Some specimens mave the barrel drilled in the central prong.

I think it is the second half of XIX century as the most part of alike items dated not earlier than XIX century by iconography and pieces with dates engraved (or indicated by any other method) and only modern "kungfu movie's legends" attributed them as really ancient pieces of weapon.

The hilt could be wrapped initially with the hemp cord or a band of fabric. I saw a lot with red band wrapping, all old, torn and worn. THis colour is the national color of Chinese so they liked to use it for weapon.
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Old 16th September 2014, 12:41 AM   #4
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Probably Chinese. These were also used in Indonesia, Okinawa, and elsewhere. Indonesian ones have pommels similar to Chinese ones, so far as I have seen.

They were used as police truncheons (like jutte/jitte in Japan), not just as martial arts weapons.

Sai in English, which is from the Japanese, from Chinese chai. The character 釵 also means "hairpin".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_(weapon)
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Old 16th September 2014, 08:46 AM   #5
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This one is Chinese for sure.

Regarding the name - bijiacha in Chinese, no correspondence to Japanese in spite of the hyerogliphic as they used another tradition - some words in Chinese are written by different hyerogliphs then in Japanese and visa versa.

Regarding the police weapon - not for China. For Japan - it is OK.

The origin of the weapon could be from trishula trident in Buddhist iconocgarphy but this point is not for sure - only assumption.
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Old 16th September 2014, 12:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
I've been struggling with this one for a long time.

It's entirely hand wrought iron and I would have no problem assigning an 18th/19th century date.

I'm sure the grip was wrapped at one time.

Any information y'all have will be appreciated, nationality, an accurate name for it, etc.

I suspect it's a KungFu or other discipline weapon, but I'm open to suggestions.

Real antique sai are quite rare, there are only a few images available online, from what I have read and seen your sai is not Chinese, it looks like an Okinawan sai, the antique Chinese sai like weapons that I have seen looked different then this. I have uploaded a few images of antique sai, from left to right, two Okinawan sai found in Japan with wrapped hilts and the smaller sai with no wrapping came from Indonesia, your sai has some similar traits to the ones I posted.

In Indonesia the sai seem to have been more for martial arts use, in Okinawa they had more of a weapons type use. Okinawa was under Japanese control for several hundred years and the Japanese weapon known as the jutte sometimes took the form of a sai, I have included an image of two Japanese sai jutte.

The bottom image is a quote from"The Secret Royal Martial Arts of Ryukyu"
by Kanenori Sakon Matsuo, which discusses the use of the sai in Okinawa.
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Old 16th September 2014, 11:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleksey
This one is Chinese for sure.

Regarding the name - bijiacha in Chinese, no correspondence to Japanese in spite of the hyerogliphic as they used another tradition - some words in Chinese are written by different hyerogliphs then in Japanese and visa versa.

Regarding the police weapon - not for China. For Japan - it is OK.

The origin of the weapon could be from trishula trident in Buddhist iconocgarphy but this point is not for sure - only assumption.

Aleksey, were are you getting this information from, if you search for the word "bijiacha" you do not find one image or mention of a sai, if you search for "Chinese sai you will not find much either, if you search for "Okinawan sai" you will find many similar looking sai to the one being discussed.

Here is a section from "Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai" by Don Cunningham which discusses sai in China and Okinawa as well as some other Chinese iron bar weapons.

I have posted an image of what was said to be a Chinese sai, it is quite long and pointed.
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Old 28th September 2014, 10:10 PM   #8
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it is indeed anodd weapon.. its hard to say the origin of them if they dont have a grip wrapping any more..

the malay style with have a spiraling bount cord that makes it easy to distinguish..
also malay ones almost always have some for of point as it is a weapon after all.
but in china and japan laws forbidding general public from having pointy things turn many of these into a steel baton..

malay name is trisula.. which lets you know its origins by its indo-aryan name .. being a trident i would imagine it was originally some scaled down version of the fork like Indian spears that have spread through asia with indian religion.

many of the malay trisula have indeed chinese multifaced pommels.. and ive seen japanese ones like it too.

the sai and the tonfa batons both have their origins in malay martial arts.(the tonfa baton is also present in burma and thailand.. as is the trisula.. although very uncommon so again the real origin of both may be indian martial arts.. )
.
we must remember that 1200 years ago the malay kingdoms were powerful states controlling the sea beween east asia and india and although they are long forgotten today at one time they were naval super powers of the region, - controling the seas of south east asia.. so lots of these things spread very rapidly and were ingested locally.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 07:05 AM   #9
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In my opinion this is most likely a Chinese example. Its construction and form is quite consistent with many examples I have seen and handled, many purchased directly from China.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 08:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
In my opinion this is most likely a Chinese example. Its construction and form is quite consistent with many examples I have seen and handled, many purchased directly from China.

Do you have any pictures of some of the ones purchased from China so we can compare, as far as I know the Chinese do not allow export of their antique weapons, they do export vast amounts of fakes, some quite good. On the other hand I have seen several antique sai that originated from Japan, which makes sense since Okinawa was part of Japan for several hundred years. I am not saying that it is impossible that the Chinese did not make and use sai of this exact type, its just that I have so far not seen any evidence that they did, the antique sai that I have seen that were labeled as Chinese looked quite different. Here is another sai that originated in Japan, again quite similar to the one being discussed.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 03:16 PM   #11
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I would wager the one just posted is Chinese too. The tip and pommel form lead me to believe that. Once you see enough of these Chinese maces in there many forms the same patterns are repeated over and over with some variation. I will try to post a couple pictures after work as you asked.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 04:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
I would wager the one just posted is Chinese too. The tip and pommel form lead me to believe that. Once you see enough of these Chinese maces in there many forms the same patterns are repeated over and over with some variation. I will try to post a couple pictures after work as you asked.


Okinawa was close to both China and Japan so it would not be unusual for a Chinese influence to be seen in Okinawan sai, I know for a fact that two of the sai I posted came here directly from Japan, and there is way more chance that they got to Japan through Okinawa than through China. Several forum members have mentioned China as a possibility of the origin for the sai being discussed here but so far no one has posted any Chinese sai to compare with or any reference from a book.



Here are two searches, one for "Chinese sai" and one for "Okinawan sai", see what both bring up.

Chinese sai.
https://www.google.com/search?q=chi...iw=1842&bih=995


Okinawan sai.
https://www.google.com/search?q=oki...iw=1842&bih=995
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Old 3rd October 2014, 11:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estcrh
Several forum members have mentioned China as a possibility of the origin for the sai being discussed here but so far no one has posted any Chinese sai to compare with or any reference from a book.


Here's a Chinese example (the Japanese name would be "manji no sai"; I don't know if there is a specific Chinese name, or whether it is just "cha" like a normal sai). In rather poor condition. 715g.

Pre-Meiji Okinawan sai are built much like Chinese ones. How would one tell the difference? How can one tell whether it was made where it was found? (Mark Bishop's book, "Okinawan Weaponry" has some old Okinawan sai, and notes one that might have been imported from China.)

These days, Okinawan sai are best known, but that's a result of the spread of karate and the inclusion of the sai as a karate weapon.

Also attached is a picture of an iron ruler that's half-way to becoming a sai. (Pg. 55 in 中国古代冷兵器 (Ancient Chinese cold weapon)
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Old 4th October 2014, 12:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen

Pre-Meiji Okinawan sai are built much like Chinese ones. How would one tell the difference? How can one tell whether it was made where it was found? (Mark Bishop's book, "Okinawan Weaponry" has some old Okinawan sai, and notes one that might have been imported from China.)

These days, Okinawan sai are best known, but that's a result of the spread of karate and the inclusion of the sai as a karate weapon.


Timo, I personally have not seen an authentic, antique sai that was proven to have originated from China and looked anything like the sai currently posted, they may have had some similarities but they also had glaring differences.

I have watched, dealers, auctions, Ebay, Yahoo Japan for years and have only seen a couple of antique sai, surviving ones are rare. Of the ones I posted I know for sure that two came directly from Japan, and one came here from Indonesia, the other one was said to be from Japan but I have no proof. So if I see a sai that is of unknown origin and it is quite similar to the ones I know did not come from China I have to assume that it is not Chinese.

Here are two Chinese sai, as you can see they have some similarity to the sai previously posted but they have more in common with the ones you posted.
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Old 4th October 2014, 12:56 AM   #15
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Here is a quick comparison, notice the similarities.
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Old 4th October 2014, 02:35 AM   #16
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Some more (possibly) Chinese cha/sai:

Group of Highbinder weapons including a sai: http://amst312.umwblogs.org/2009/01/29/the-highbinders/

http://www.jikishinkobudo.com/artic...lection/8756081

Further to my earlier comments on trying to identify the origin of a particular sai, Okinawa was a major trade centre, connecting China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. A lot of trade went through Okinawa, with Chinese goods proceeding to Japan and the Philippines, and Japanese goods going to Chinese and SE Asia. Given domestic Okinawan iron production being what it was (I've seen it described as "absent"), a lot of "Okinawan" iron goods may well have been imported in the finished state, rather than being locally made.

Last edited by Timo Nieminen : 4th October 2014 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 4th October 2014, 05:36 AM   #17
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Here are a couple examples pictured below that I know were collected in northern China.

It was mentioned before that this style of antique mace is "quite rare". I do not necessarily agree with that statement. I have seen a couple dozen examples in the past several years that are very similar or of some variant that I strongly believe were Chinese due to either their association with other weapons in the same collection or where they were being sold from. I have also seen photo evidence of Qing era Chinese prison guards using these weapons. As far as nailing down a consistent form goes, that would be difficult. Its been my experience that variation is the rule rather than the exception when it come to Chinese "cold" weapons. I do appreciate estcrh's desire for proof though. I hope the two mace that I posted will be of interest. I also like the comments Timo made about the flow of iron goods between countries.
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Old 4th October 2014, 03:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
Some more (possibly) Chinese cha/sai:

Group of Highbinder weapons including a sai: http://amst312.umwblogs.org/2009/01/29/the-highbinders/

http://www.jikishinkobudo.com/artic...lection/8756081

Further to my earlier comments on trying to identify the origin of a particular sai, Okinawa was a major trade centre, connecting China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. A lot of trade went through Okinawa, with Chinese goods proceeding to Japan and the Philippines, and Japanese goods going to Chinese and SE Asia. Given domestic Okinawan iron production being what it was (I've seen it described as "absent"), a lot of "Okinawan" iron goods may well have been imported in the finished state, rather than being locally made.


Timo, as you know sai have been discussed repeatedly on various forums with many claims being made but usually no proof is furnished or images posted to back up what anyone is saying and in the end no new evidence is produced. Here we finally have at least a few images and some information to work with.

I have no knowledge of whether Okinawa produced its own iron products or if they imported tools and weapons from China etc, what I do know is that from the 1600s on Okinawa was under samurai control and I think that would preclude the open importation of weapons except possibly for the use of sanctioned police and security officials. Other individuals would have had to secretly import or forge their own from existing metal supplies. That is why Okinawa developed martial arts and wooden weapons from what I understand. This would also explain the scarcity of antique sai today.

Your one link was to a newspaper / magazine article from the late 1800s early 1900s? depicting the Chinese criminal element brought to American with imported Chinese laborers. It shows the types of weapons confiscated from Chinese criminals including a sai with a wrapped hilt.

Quote:
Highbinder, a member of a Chinese-American secret society that engaged in blackmail, murder, etc, named after the High-binders, a New York city gang.



The other links is very interesting, its shows a sai from the Royal Armories identified as being Chinese while at the same time it questions were it actually originated and asks for help in identifying it, which is exactly what we are discussing here.

Quote:
Antique Sai in the British Collection
By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 27 2013 11:00AM
We are fortunate to practice martial arts amongst one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England.

One of the objects on is display is exhibit XXVIM.17: Listed as a Chinese parrying weapon. The weapon is steel and measures 48.9cm in length. Its shaft is octagonal and the hilt is very sturdy.

The exact age of this weapon has not yet been determined, but we believe it to be at least one hundred years old. This weapon was purchased from a collection of South and East Asian weapons in the second half of the 20th century.

At the moment we are investigating as to whether this item is Okinawan or indeed Chinese and would welcome the thoughts of other martial artists with experience in this area. The item can be viewed at the museum inside the Oriental Gallery.
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Old 4th October 2014, 10:19 PM   #19
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Note the very similar sai in post #10. Overall, very Chinese. Pommel is in a Chinese style, guard is attached in a Chinese style, the tip is in a Chinese style (also seen on longer jian maces). Of course, if other people used the same styles, it could be from elsewhere. But to me, it looks very Chinese.

I've only seen a few sources comment on Okinawan iron production (all Japanese, all saying there was none). Okinawa certainly imported weapons and iron tools from both Japan and China. A lot of Japanese weapons passed through on the way to China as well. Iron tools (and probably weapons) were manufactured locally from imported iron. This last point means that while we might be able to identify iron as Chinese or Japanese (or Indian, or more recently, European scrap iron) in origin, it still doesn't tell us where the item in question was made, since iron was traded as a raw material and locally smithed.

Weapons restrictions on Okinawa predate Japanese rule (iirc, they date to the unification by the kings of Chuzan (ruling from Shuri)). However, a lot of karate mythology talks about the development of karate to fight the Japanese, so blames disarmament on the Japanese. It's best to largely ignore the mythology (which includes choice elements such as karate punches being designed to pierce Japanese wooden/bamboo armour, which was not what Japanese soldiers/samurai wore). The sai certainly has history on Okinawa as a police truncheon. This role was taken by jutte in Japan, so I wouldn't expect to see many Japanese sai. As noted upthread, the sai was also used by Chinese police (but I think less often than the iron ruler). It's very likely that the sai was adopted in Okinawa from Chinese use.

In China, the main use of the Sai seems to have been in Fujian and Taiwan. Taiwanese use would have come from Fujianese use. Fujian was also closely connected by trade and travel to Okinawa and SE Asia, and is a likely entry point for the sai into China if it was adopted from Indonesian use.

(The Highbinder sai might well be American-made, but would have been made in the traditional Chinese style.)
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Old 5th October 2014, 03:44 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
Here are a couple examples pictured below that I know were collected in northern China.

It was mentioned before that this style of antique mace is "quite rare". I do not necessarily agree with that statement. I have seen a couple dozen examples in the past several years that are very similar or of some variant that I strongly believe were Chinese due to either their association with other weapons in the same collection or where they were being sold from. I have also seen photo evidence of Qing era Chinese prison guards using these weapons. As far as nailing down a consistent form goes, that would be difficult. Its been my experience that variation is the rule rather than the exception when it come to Chinese "cold" weapons. I do appreciate estcrh's desire for proof though. I hope the two mace that I posted will be of interest. I also like the comments Timo made about the flow of iron goods between countries.

Neil, do you have any pictures of the Qing era Chinese prison guards, that would be interesting. I myself would call something rare when there are almost no images available online.

Here is something I think we can agree is probably an indicator of Chinese manufacture, this particular four sided cross section. I have never seen a sai from either Indonesia or Okinawa that had this cross section.
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Old 5th October 2014, 03:49 AM   #21
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Diamond section is found on Chinese jian maces (among other cross-sections).
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Old 5th October 2014, 04:03 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
Note the very similar sai in post #10. Overall, very Chinese. Pommel is in a Chinese style, guard is attached in a Chinese style, the tip is in a Chinese style (also seen on longer jian maces). Of course, if other people used the same styles, it could be from elsewhere. But to me, it looks very Chinese.


But did other cultures have the same pommel style, either before the Chinese adaptation of it or by copying the Chinese style, I think a lot of information from Okinawa and Indonesia is missing.

Here are a couple of known Indonesian sai to compare.
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Old 6th October 2014, 07:58 PM   #23
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The lack of iron production in Okinawa is mentioned in this book "Okinawa:The History of an Island People" By George Kerr, the restrictions on importing weapons into Okinawa is mentioned as well.
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Old 6th October 2014, 10:55 PM   #24
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The top one I posted is from an area of Northern Sumatra where Chinese laborers were brought by the British in the late 19th c. The set of two and the other one with a wooden handle are all Chinese. All three are octagonal. The set with brass guards and pommel has a scoring line accentuating the rounded points. The other wooden handled Chinese example has a flat tip. The Sumatran one looks exactly like the other Indonesian examples shown.
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Old 7th October 2014, 07:23 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josh stout
The top one I posted is from an area of Northern Sumatra where Chinese laborers were brought by the British in the late 19th c. The set of two and the other one with a wooden handle are all Chinese. All three are octagonal. The set with brass guards and pommel has a scoring line accentuating the rounded points. The other wooden handled Chinese example has a flat tip. The Sumatran one looks exactly like the other Indonesian examples shown.

Josh, thanks for adding your sai here, I put it next to some other sai from the same area to compare. I think this is the most images of sai from the Indonesian area ever in place. Unfortunately I do not know of any sai that is known to have come from Okinawa. Your Chinese sai are quite nice, the vast majority of achinese sai seem to be four sided.
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Old 8th October 2014, 12:14 AM   #26
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That is very interesting. One of them looks so much like mine that I think it may be the same one. As far as I know I have never posted a photo, so it would have had to come from the Indonesian seller and be several years old.

What do you think?
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Old 8th October 2014, 12:23 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josh stout
That is very interesting. One of them looks so much like mine that I think it may be the same one. As far as I know I have never posted a photo, so it would have had to come from the Indonesian seller and be several years old.

What do you think?

I thought they looked similar, it did not occur to me that the pictures may have been of the same sai, small world.
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Old 8th October 2014, 01:04 AM   #28
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Some more antique sai (mostly Chinese, including sai/iron ruler hybrids) at http://museum.hikari.us/weapons/
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Old 8th October 2014, 06:58 PM   #29
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Here is a modern example of Indonesian sai, you can see that the two pieces are welded together but the form is the same.
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Old 8th October 2014, 08:55 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
Some more antique sai (mostly Chinese, including sai/iron ruler hybrids) at http://museum.hikari.us/weapons/

They have a lot of items but the site and images etc have not been updated for years, some of the descriptions are suspect, they have this sai described as being an
Quote:
Okinawan sai. Iron with cord and fabric wrapping with small wooden inserts.
It looks just like a four sided Chinese sai, this is how the vast majority of Chinese sai are made, what would make this one particular sai "Okinawan".
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