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Old 18th April 2021, 06:47 PM   #31
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by Philip
Jim, you might have a better grasp of this after digging deeper into the historical narrative. The Dutch sinologist R van Gulick wrote an interesting article on the significance of the jian, along with the zither, to scholars. Ming writers on connoisseurship do discuss swords among the other things that cultivated gentlemen should appreciate. These discussions dealt with the civilian as opposed to the military sector of society. Also of interest is what the Qing emperor Kangxi (r 1682-1722) wrote about the futility of trying to disarm the common people in some areas of China.

Further inquiry into the role of secret societies in old China might also be fruitful. It seems that the imperial government had some toleration for their activities, providing they were not overtly political, and insofar as they provided a means for local communities to police themselves to a limited extent. Much as minor legal functions, especially those of a familial or contractual nature, were often left to clans and guilds to handle. With a somewhat constrained tax base, and large expenditures in other areas like public works, stipends and perks for the ruling elite, and military campaigns, this helped stretch the resources of a government ruling an empire whose provinces were larger than some European countries.

Well explained Philip, and it would be understandable that observance of the political climate would vary in degree regionally and with regard to certain circumstances. Some time ago I was researching the 'secret societies' etc. along with acquisition of this ring pommel 'Ba Gwa' saber from Scott (in the 90s).
It is from the 'Eight Trigram' rebellion (Millenarian) of c. 1813 and that symbol can be seen near the tip. Apparently the sword has the 'name' 'kill demons' in the Chinese inscription something to the effect of the 'time of Wan-Li'.

I wanted to share it here along with the discussion. It seems these type sabers were used by Chinese martial artists in the exhibitions intended to 'impress' the legations during the "Boxer Rebellion".
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Last edited by Jim McDougall; 18th April 2021 at 07:00 PM.
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