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Old 20th April 2021, 05:49 AM   #43
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 920

Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
I have very little knowledge about antique Chinese swords but what I know is that it is extremely, extremely difficult to find genuine antique fighting jian swords.

Even before the rise of Communism in China, old swords were frequently molten and the steel reused, and the majority of extant examples are decorative/tai chi ones from 1900 or later.

On top of that, because of extreme rarity of genuine antique swords, even from the beginning of the 20th century (1900 and later) there was a booming industry of producing "antique" jian swords that ranged in quality from examples that are practically undistinguishable from the originals to phantasy antiquated examples. These swords were aimed not only for the foreign amateurs of exotic souvenirs but also for the internal market, as they were both considered to bring good luck while being symbolic weapons for martial arts practitioners.
Having handled, researched, and restored many of these "extreme rarity" swords since the 1970s, I must disagree. It's easy to assume from the tons of crappy fakes floating around that the genuine old ones are very rare, but not necessarily so. Many older blades have been remounted, at later periods and even in modern times. Museums such as the Met, and the Peabody-Essex Museum (Salem, MA) have extensive collections of antique Chinese sabers and swords (not all on display, many have to been seen in the depot), so a study of these, and comparison with those seen on the market and in private collections, can give a serious researcher a good idea of what's the real deal, what's BS, and what's been monkeyed with.

And contrary to what you state, it's not all that difficult to distinguish pieces made for the 19th cent. curio trade from those of earlier periods, there are notable qualitative and design differences. If you "have very little knowledge about antique Chinese swords" perhaps this might explain your perception. It's as though I, who have little knowledge or appreciation of keris, would try to venture opinions on what is old and important versus the new stuff being circulated in the contemporary collectors' marketplace.
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