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Old 17th April 2021, 03:07 AM   #1
JoeCanada42
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Default Jian Sword Buddha

Looking for opinions on age, origin, purpose, info etc. also to share, thanks
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Old 17th April 2021, 03:08 AM   #2
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Old 17th April 2021, 03:09 AM   #3
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Old 17th April 2021, 03:10 AM   #4
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Old 17th April 2021, 03:11 AM   #5
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Old 17th April 2021, 04:08 AM   #6
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the form and design is consistent with modern made pieces flooding out of China the last 20 years. They are very good at making recent versions look 100-200 years old, but they typically throw in designs that were just not commonly found. Kind of like making a modern fantasy sword design look old by aging it with chemicals etc.

I bought 2 similarish ones 20years ago for $500 each. The cost of the study.
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Old 17th April 2021, 05:03 AM   #7
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hll. sad to say it is a very recently made crude chinese fake.
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Old 17th April 2021, 07:57 AM   #8
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Hi Joe,


Possibly made in southern Yunnan where there are ethnic minorities following Buddhism.


Ian.
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Old 17th April 2021, 04:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ausjulius
hll. sad to say it is a very recently made crude chinese fake.

Ouch! Thats pretty direct. As I do not claim any particular experience with Chinese weaponry, but find the topic extremely interesting, I wonder if you might detail a bit on how that evaluation is determined.

Is this jian based on a specific form from which it is copied? or is it a composite of various elements?

It would be great to see 'authentic' examples of this, which are fully substantiated, in comparison, perhaps you might include one?
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Old 17th April 2021, 04:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Joe,


Possibly made in southern Yunnan where there are ethnic minorities following Buddhism.


Ian.
Hi Ian,
That is interesting, would the Buddhist minority in Yunnan regions be due to other religion dominating, Islam? I am only guessing because of news activity of late regarding Uighers etc.

Jim
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Old 17th April 2021, 05:28 PM   #11
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Thanks for stepping in Jim, I was just about to say the same.

Thanks Ian I did try looking for some examples of Yunnan "village Jian" swords earlier today and I will keep looking. I have not found any examples yet.

Ausjulius , what is very recent in your opinion? and if you could give me some reasons why you say this one is fake please?

I have seen many Jains sell recently and have some I believe interesting research and different Jian swords photos to share. I may be wrong but I do believe I see genuine age in the Jian I posted .

I will give some details about the sword. I got it from an American eBay vendor with good feedback who I don't believe sold such a sword before. I payed the second time 300$ Us, i did have to pay customs also and in Canadian dollars this was a bit expensive for me. Originally I purchased it buy it now for about 120+60 Us. it was confiscated by eBay global shipping program.
I then found it for sale with the known eBay liquidator. the Original seller was nice enough to buy it back and sell it to me the second time. all this took a lot of work and the sword went on quite an journey to get to me.
that being said the price I payed kind of defeats the point of making a fake.

the sword is 35 1/2 inch , the blade is little over 28 inch, the scabbard is a little over 31 inch. the sword in the scabbard is about 39 inch.

I don't know the weight yet, I have a photo of it balancing on the balance point.

I see one similar Jian, when I search for antique Jian, the guard is the same but without buddha, and the scabbard fittings are the same... although I cant post a photo of this similar sword currently, it also has a different more standard pommel and longer signed blade. but is the same color and very similar to mine, it is dated 19c.

On my sword I see the ray skin is shrunk, and the blade has rust under the guard, the guard is also lose, the blade is solid, all scabbard fittings are lose. there is many flaws in the metal work. most modern replicas are of better quality, I think this may be primitive work., the dragons on the blade and the faces on the pommel and the sitting buddhas on the guard all have discrepancies. the blade is a known blade shape and thickness, and is sharp with a few dings. i think the guard is Tibetan shape, the handle is large enough for two hands.

the blade definitely feels real, I also looked for about a month and can not find any other Jian with buddha elements at all.
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Old 17th April 2021, 06:00 PM   #12
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Hello,

I'm a bit sceptical regarding the age, too. For comparison I show my chinese Jian-style double dagger, made around 1900. The blades are relatively simple but the blade of the showed sword is not the part I have a real problem with. The ray skin looks a bit strange to me, it could be an imitation. The quality of the bronze mountings is also not very good.
Original swords of this type or pieces like my double dagger were probably only "touristic" pieces for the colonialists in there time, so the quality claims were not the same like for an officer's or warrior's sword. But the showed sword is under the quality I know from such antique "touristic" pieces.

Regards
Robin
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Old 17th April 2021, 07:26 PM   #13
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I will admit right up front that i know very little about this type of sword. But from simple observation it is clear to see that the fittings on Joe's Jian are rather poor for anything with legitimate age. We can clearly see the difference between what Joe has posted and the dagger that Robin has posted. And as Robin points out, even in 1900 when he estimates his double dagger from, these were most probably being made for European tastes.
I also agree with Robin that the ray skin looks a bit suspect on Joe's sword. The general quality of the piece seems low. It may be vintage, but i have serious doubts it is genuinely antique. Either way i suspect it's purpose was most probably not as a user, but a wall hanger.
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Old 17th April 2021, 08:44 PM   #14
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Again, while I cannot speak with any sort of authority on these Chinese weapons, I do have what might be considered a 'working knowledge' of them from researches many times over the years.

I will say there seems to be a notable presence of 'souvenir' items in circulation, many of which do have notable age in that they were acquired in the 19th into early 20th c. Obviously China has restricted the trade or export of their antiquities for many years, so authentic items would have had to circumvent the normal channels (uh, not that this could not happen).

What I am wondering is, in all areas of production of material culture items and goods, is it not feasible that there were varying degrees of quality in items? With this being the case, perhaps makers with lesser skills tried to copy the work of other artisans in a kind of 'underground' setting.

If I have understood correctly, there were considerable restrictions upon civilians toward owning weapons, considering the constant presence of prospective insurgency, i.e. secret societies against the Qing rulers.
I have often heard of jian regarded as 'students' and that for some reason these individuals were allowed them, for reasons I do not know.

Regarding the example discussed from OP, it does not seem to me that Buddha was depicted in the elements of swords, and the pommel on this seems atypical. There seems to be a ferrule or some sort of element that should be under it to correspond to the one at the grip base.
It would seem that rayskin would be unusual to place on a weapon intended for commercial (souvenir) traffic. There are types of faux rayskin used in Europe since early 19thc. but this does not seem feasible for use when cheaper more effective materials would be available.

I have a saber which has an unusual tortoise shell material not commonly seen on Chinese swords, but it has been deemed authentically mounted, but likely for use as a gift possibly for diplomatic presentation. This may be a consideration here as well. The suggestion of Tibetan styling involved, as well as the presence of the Buddha, could indicate Tibetan production, and again, as I have understood, Tibetan artisans in border regions often produced weapons for Chinese overlords in a 'tribute' type arrangement.

Consideration of 'age' is also quite relative, and it seems there is a good volume of Chinese and Tibetan items which were acquired during the colonial occupations and travel in late 19th into 20th c. (1930s).

I think these factors are important to consider as we look at items such as this. To me, even souvenir items have some degree of legitimacy in the actual items or culture they represent. This jian has distinct character even with perhaps some flaws in its elements.
Just my perspective, and I look forward to same from those far more experienced in this field.

The 'butterfly knives' (shuangian=double jians) were not popular until early 1820s, but by end of 19th c. were used notably by so called 'river pirates' who were Chinese martial artists often employed as 'security' forces. At the end of 19th c. during occupation of China by European legations they were among the many types of weapon acquired by people there. Constant displays of martial arts using 'exotic' weapons intrigued the Europeans so they sought them for display in thier parlors.

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Old 17th April 2021, 08:58 PM   #15
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I don't like shape of the points on those daggers.
my ray skin looks pretty much the exact same as yours, just with extra orange die on top. you can see some parts of my ray skin which don't have the orange, looks just like your ray skin if not older. could you tell me what looks off about it? the fittings do look very similar and a little better quality. I doubt mine is more recent than the circa 1900 tourist pieces.

the blade on mine looks like a forged, fullered, carbon steel. my sword may have had new fittings put on for one of many reasons(maybe to bypass laws preventing sale of items over 100 years old.),maybe the original scabbard broke ,or original fittings were silver etc., I am thinking it may be a real weapon blade, made into a personal talisman sword, temple/exorcism sword or Daoist sword. Tibetan? (not for tourist) and I think the reason the fittings are crude is really just because its village made , and primitively made, maybe the master bronze caster just died. maybe the village fittings were more crude before perfected for the tourist market. they actually look pretty good compared to most plain simple 19c military examples.
I don't think my sword with buddha is military or meant for battle. but it would certainly work, feels like a quality sword.

anybody maybe know where this type of buddha face comes from? with the large earlobes, hair style, etc. also I notice a stain at the top of the fuller on both sides. any ideas what that's about?
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Old 17th April 2021, 09:16 PM   #16
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Jim I am not sure what you are describing about the pommel etc, and a corresponding part?

the pommel looks like it was pinned in place
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Old 17th April 2021, 10:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
That is interesting, would the Buddhist minority in Yunnan regions be due to other religion dominating, Islam?
In China and in Yunnan province in particular, Buddhism is not a minority religion. But most Chinese people follow Amidaism. The Thai and Burmese peoples inhabiting Yunnan adhere to a different direction - Theravada. This is the main direction of Buddhism in the countries of Southeast Asia. It came from South India in the 5-6th centuries AD.

P.S. The details of JoeCanada42 sword do bear some resemblance to the Theravada Buddhist depictions.
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Old 18th April 2021, 12:13 AM   #18
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To me, the dragon engraving on the blade is not consistent with blades that Iíve seen. A lot of the recent reproductions went crazy with Mulan looking dragons on the blades, and Wild engravings of characters.

The casting of the fittings to me is crude, in my opinion, if a sword were to have such ornamentation, the pierce work would be exceptionally refined. Why go to such lengths to make a fancy jian, but only make rough work with the fittings.

The patina on the fittings seems off to me too.

The patina and appearance of the rayskin/sharkskin looks off.

Iím no expert in original pieces, but I have observed a huge amount of modern reproductions over the last 20 years. Mostly by photo.

I would wonder if a sword was real, then click on the buyers page and see what else they had. Only to see insanely grotesque caricatures of Chinese weapons.

In my opinion, if the workmanship is crude, then it will be crude throughout. So if having fancy Buddhist icons on it, it would be done impeccably, if at all. Crude pieces that are original are crude from head to toe. A refined sword would have no telltale signs of crudity, unless damage, or parts replaced.

Thatís my take. Iím no expert, and I go by feeling still, until I become more astute at identifying the tell tale signs of modern fabrications.
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Old 18th April 2021, 06:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I will admit right up front that i know very little about this type of sword. But from simple observation it is clear to see that the fittings on Joe's Jian are rather poor for anything with legitimate age. We can clearly see the difference between what Joe has posted and the dagger that Robin has posted. And as Robin points out, even in 1900 when he estimates his double dagger from, these were most probably being made for European tastes.
I also agree with Robin that the ray skin looks a bit suspect on Joe's sword. The general quality of the piece seems low. It may be vintage, but i have serious doubts it is genuinely antique. Either way i suspect it's purpose was most probably not as a user, but a wall hanger.

David, you've hit the nail right on the head. No use over-intellectualizing the Buddhistic symbolism, this thing is bogus. The uneven workmanship, the assembly of the hilt (note especially the pommel which simply butts against the end of the grip without having the integral "skirt" that is the counterpart to the ferrule at the forward end), the decorative technique on the blade, I can go on and on. Having collected, dealt in, and restored Chinese swords (and somewhat analogous forms from Korea) for decades, plus examining them in museums both in Asia and the West, I can see too many discrepancies in this piece, which has far more in common with the fakes in Chinese souvenir shops than any of the originals in my experience.
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Old 18th April 2021, 09:22 AM   #20
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As mentionned previously, this sword is crudely made, the poor cast and the Buddhist designs, are all signs of a late 20th c., not even a fake, but a Chinese fantasy.

On the other hand, maybe, we might be all wrong and this sword is the sword of Buddha himself... and therefore an invaluable treasure...
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Old 18th April 2021, 11:59 AM   #21
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Do a search on this forum using the word "Jian", you will soon see the problems for your sword. Chinese swords are very bound by tradition, and despite all the variations there are common themes repeated all through their
history.
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Old 18th April 2021, 01:48 PM   #22
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For comparison, here is something similar from the Chinese Sword Museum - unfortunately my knowledge is minimal and not much improved by my visit, as almost all text was in Mandarin.
The sword was however captioned in English 'Longquan Sword .Qing Dynasty'
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Old 18th April 2021, 02:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hi Ian,
That is interesting, would the Buddhist minority in Yunnan regions be due to other religion dominating, Islam? I am only guessing because of news activity of late regarding Uighers etc.

Jim
Hi Jim,

When using the term "ethnic minority" I mean it in the sense of the Chinese census classification, which is conducted nationwide. "Ethnic minorities" are, by definition, not considered Chinese ethnically and in toto make up a minority of the overall population in China. That said, there are areas of the country where ethnic minorities exceed the number of ethnic Chinese. Southern Yunnan is one area where Buddhist ethnic minorities comprise the majority of the population. Buddhism is therefore the most prevalent religion in that part of China. Ren-Ren was alluding to this in his reply.

Cheers,

Ian.
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Old 18th April 2021, 03:33 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Again, while I cannot speak with any sort of authority on these Chinese weapons, I do have what might be considered a 'working knowledge' of them from researches many times over the years.

If I have understood correctly, there were considerable restrictions upon civilians toward owning weapons, considering the constant presence of prospective insurgency, i.e. secret societies against the Qing rulers.
I have often heard of jian regarded as 'students' and that for some reason these individuals were allowed them, for reasons I do not know.
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.
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Old 18th April 2021, 03:39 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur

On the other hand, maybe, we might be all wrong and this sword is the sword of Buddha himself... and therefore an invaluable treasure...
Don't we all dream of finding the saber carried by Genghis Cohen?
Dig deep enough on the internet, one of us lucky bums might just find it!

Some years ago, I saw something written by some chap about a jian attributed to Marco Polo (yep, it was really that old!). Don't remember the whole backstory that he presented, something about it possibly being a gift of Kubilai Kahn? I do remember meeting the author at sword shows in the distant path, he took himself very seriously so did not think that his article was penned in jest.
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Old 18th April 2021, 04:16 PM   #26
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I did research Jian swords on this forum, and I did look at many modern replicas/creations. I figured my sword was prolly circa 1900, and given its unique handle I figured it wasn't intended for the colonial tourists and might be of good quality. for the original price I payed it didn't matter if it was just an old wall hanger. the second time I bough it it was more a issue of personal satisfaction. I though It would easily prove to be old... . the thought of it being bogus is a bit disappointing. I still think the reason it was made may be for personal use ,not sale, Maybe a Tai chi practitioner who liked buddha.
I have an affinity for the buddha . Its hanging on my wall like a good luck talisman. maybe that was its purpose seems like that's why some of them were made.
I did research Theravada Buddhism briefly and I Find it more appealing then Mahayana . But I did spend more time and had more fun researching Manjushri a bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, He is depicted with a sword and a book. he is a primary interlocutor with Buddha.

how about the blade of my sword? looks like its got a good distal taper, and everything else looks good to me.
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Old 18th April 2021, 04:29 PM   #27
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I found this Jian awhile ago and wanted to share the images, as I was previously talking about the Jian bird and the sword.
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Old 18th April 2021, 04:45 PM   #28
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also concerning the Jian bird and the sword I wanted to share this
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Old 18th April 2021, 05:53 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Jim,

When using the term "ethnic minority" I mean it in the sense of the Chinese census classification, which is conducted nationwide. "Ethnic minorities" are, by definition, not considered Chinese ethnically and in toto make up a minority of the overall population in China. That said, there are areas of the country where ethnic minorities exceed the number of ethnic Chinese. Southern Yunnan is one area where Buddhist ethnic minorities comprise the majority of the population. Buddhism is therefore the most prevalent religion in that part of China. Ren-Ren was alluding to this in his reply.

Cheers,

Ian.
Ian, thank you for this excellent response, and Ren Ren as well ! I really appreciate this detailed explanation as the ethnic and religious diversity in the vast Chinese sphere is very diverse. For those, like myself, who have mostly a lay knowledge of these areas on Chinese history and anthropology it really helps.

Best
Jim
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Old 18th April 2021, 05:58 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Don't we all dream of finding the saber carried by Genghis Cohen?
Dig deep enough on the internet, one of us lucky bums might just find it!

Some years ago, I saw something written by some chap about a jian attributed to Marco Polo (yep, it was really that old!). Don't remember the whole backstory that he presented, something about it possibly being a gift of Kubilai Kahn? I do remember meeting the author at sword shows in the distant path, he took himself very seriously so did not think that his article was penned in jest.

Absolute classics Philip!!! Your resounding knowledge on these topics is clearly paralleled by your amazing wit and humor!!! You showed remarkable restraint apparently in your meeting this imaginative author.
Genghis Cohen??? LOL. Wasnt there a Chicago lawyer by that name who spent a lifetime looking for the tomb. Also I think there was an old movie (Boris Karloff?) on the tomb of Genghis Khan?
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