Most antique Vietnamese sabers on the market are either ornate Nguyen dynasty ceremonial parade pieces, or fairly simple but practical fighting swords. More rare are the higher quality sabers used by officers, which are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Overall length: 76 cm / 29.9 inch
Blade length: 58.5 / 23 inch
Blade thickness: 8 mm at base, 5 mm middle, 2.5 mm at tip.
Weight: 637 grams
An unusual Vietnamese officer saber of the 19th century, with an all-horn hilt. The handle is carved out of a single piece of dark brown horn, complete with lion head pommel and flaming manes along the back. It is complemented by a separate D-shaped guard with knucklebow, made of a single piece of blonde horn. Stylistically the handle reminds strongly of the ceremonial guom of the same period, such as this all-metal example I sold in the past.
A departure from those ceremonial guom is that this example has a well-balanced, substantial fighting blade. In recent polish, it shows an inserted high-carbon edge plate along its edge, forged in-between layers of milder forge-folded steel. In the right light you can see the cloudy effects of the heat treatment along its edge. The blade starts very thick, with strong distal taper giving it a very lively feel.
The blade has unusual fullering that starts with two wide grooves, the dorsal of which terminates after a short length, to be continued by two narrow grooves that gradually fade into the tip. Such fullering is seen more often on Vietnamese sabers, including a ceremonial saber I sold before. Curiously, it is also found on Russian shashka, Polish sabers and we have even had one Chinese saber with such grooves. It remains unclear who influenced who, and when.
The blade is further decorated typical Vietnamese floral engravings at both sides of the tip. On the forte is a Chinese inscription that reads: 長生 財利 chángshēng cáilì, an auspicious saying wishing for fortune and longevity. The owner wasn't ready to go yet, and wished he'd do well financially, too.
An interesting example of a Vietnamese officer saber of the 19th century. Its hilt mimics those found on the more ornate, Western inspired ceremonial sabers while carrying a functional fighting blade. Blade is substantial, of good quality and with interesting decor. Its inscription adds a personal touch. Save for some damage to lip of the D-guard, it is in great condition.
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