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Old 21st November 2008, 04:11 PM   #1
fearn
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Default Looking for info and pics: lang xian and nangseon

Hi All,

I'm looking for pictures and/or more information on a weapon called the lang xian in China and the Nangseon in Korea. This is an old pattern from the Ming (c. 1560) and Joseon (c. 1598) dynasties respectively.

It's described as a "thorny spear" or a "multi-point bamboo spear." I've attached a picture from the Muyedobotongji, a Korean martial arts manual, and it's the only information I could find.

Don Cunningham claims in a book that the lang xian was the inspiration for the Japanese sodegarami. I'm curious, because of the way the lang xian/nangseon was used as part of a mixed-weapons team to defeat the Japanese wokou pirates in China and Korea. It's the only weapon in the group that I don't have any information on.

Any info, pictures of real examples, etc?

Best,

F
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Old 21st November 2008, 05:20 PM   #2
josh stout
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There are some examples listed in the Huangchao Liqi Tushi, but I have never seen an actual one. I have the vague impression they have a long history, but I don't know it. My understanding is they were developed to imitate bamboo, which could be used as a screen for arrows as well as a way to tangle weapons.

I have only seen the old illustrations.
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Old 21st November 2008, 05:27 PM   #3
fearn
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Thanks Josh.

Hopefully someone else will pop up with a real one.

Since the weapon's basically a spear tip on a piece of real or imitation bamboo, I'm beginning to speculate on the design. Perhaps the way you make one is to take a bamboo stalk, and rather than cutting all the side branches off to make a smooth shaft, you deliberately leave some of the side branches on as sharpened stumps? It would be relatively easy to make, so long as you chose your bamboo well. Moreover, sharp bamboo points would definitely tangle and cut, especially on poorly armored targets. The weakness of such a weapon is that bamboo tends to shatter, so if it failed, it would fail catastrophically.

I'm still hoping that one of the Korean revival arts, such as Muye24gi, is using the nangseon, so perhaps there's a picture somewhere?

F
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Old 22nd November 2008, 12:01 AM   #4
Gavin Nugent
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Default I can't drag one out of my collection but;

Here is an image of what I think it is you are looking for with the description below.

Gav
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Old 22nd November 2008, 12:10 AM   #5
fearn
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Hi Gav,

Thanks for the pic. It's like the earlier one (of a nangseon) except that it doesn't have the overt spearpoint. Thing that's bugging me about both of these pictures is that they look like bamboo, with the exception that there are two stems at each node, not one as in real bamboo.

Maybe I'm naive, but I'm still scratching my head about the utility of copying bamboo leaves and small stems in steel, and sharpening them. It could certainly be done, but that's a lot of work!

What I'd like to see, ideally, is a photo of a real one from a museum or armory. I'm curious if it resembles the illustration or not.

F
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Old 29th November 2008, 05:04 AM   #6
fearn
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Here's one picture, from the muye24ki website. Muye24ki is a traditional korean martial arts group (perhaps properly a reconstructionist group) that practices and performs demonstrations at Hwanseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea.

They apparently still practice with the nangseon, which can be seen at the extreme left and right of the formation in the picture. They partner with the saber and shield in the formation.

Digging around some more at the above website, I found this second image, another partial picture of one from a martial arts studio (it's the weird thing at the top). This image is almost complete, missing only the spear tip. Notice that it's made from bamboo, and now we can see the side branches better. Not sure if this one is a faithful reconstruction or not, but it does provide a proper scale. That nangseon is a bit of a monster. Does anyone have the wall space to display a 5 meter long bamboo spear?

I've got to admit, the muye24ki do get to play with some neat weapons, and I hope they don't mind my borrowing these pictures.

Best,

F
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Last edited by fearn : 29th November 2008 at 05:31 AM.
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