Double jian | Mandarin Mansion

Double jian

Overall length: 52.3 cm / 20.6 inch
Blade length: 38.4 cm / 15.1 inch
Thickness: forte 3.5 mm, middle 3.5 mm.
Blade width: forte 29 mm, middle 30 mm.
Weight without scabbard: 294 & 305 grams

A 19th century dynasty set of shuangjian (雙劍) or double straightswords. These short straightswords, whether double or single, are perhaps the most common among antique Chinese arms. They come in various qualities and conditions, often with scabbards covered with tortoise shell, or ray-skin, such as this set. The fittings are almost always brass, of the more golden bronze such as found on this set. The majority of these are late Qing dynasty tourist items. The reason that we find so many of them in the Western world, while few survived in China, is that they fit handy in the steamer trunks of the day and in their homeland, were not cherished as something exotic. Many bear marks as to being made in the famous sword-making center of Longquan, this set being no exception.

It comes in a set of bronze fittings, cast and carved, combining archaic motiffs with cite dragons from ancient Chinese antiquity. It has thick zoomorphic guards, the blade coming out of the creature's head as if it is its tongue. The upper most scabbard suspension fittings bears the mark 龍泉 (Longquan) in stylized seal script. Unfortunately, the scabbard throat piece and scabbard mouthpiece are lost. There is someone in China who reproduces these, so they are replaceable if one so would wish.

Blade of pretty good geoemtry with a clear and precise ridge line on both sides. Both blades are still in their original finish of the period, with its characteristic diagonal lines running at about a 45 degree angle to the blade's length. The tips are angular, terminating in an acute tip, what collectors call a "male" point. Both have several cuts in them from other weapons, indicating actual use in fights. You rarely see this on this type of sword because most were simply not made and used to fight with. The damage seems to indicate the steel was pretty good, it held up well to the abuse.

It comes in its original wooden ray-skin covered scabbard. The ray skin is in excellent condition, not often do we find a ray-skin covered scabbard where the skin was virtually undamaged and still tight. Because of the shrinkage as the materials dried out over the last century or so, the seem did open up a little bit at the top, but the scabbard is otherwise structurally sound.

The handles of these swords are made of beautifully carved dark hardwood with lozenge shapes in 3d to provide extra grip. Some play in the guards, as is usual for these.

A very charming example of a late 19th century set of double straightswords, that has actually seen use. A good set for a beginning collector or a student of China's late martial culture.


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