A jian with fine patterned blade | Mandarin Mansion

A jian with fine patterned blade

A late Qing dynasty jian (劍) or straightsword. Such swords were carried by the upper class of the late Qing as a symbol of their scholarly status, and for personal protection. Many late Qing jian are of rather uninspiring quality, and often made with soft steel. This sword is a rare and much sought after exception, with a fully functioning hardened blade with an extraordinarily fine damascus pattern.

Overall length: 79.1 cm / 31.14 inch
Blade length: 62.7 cm / 24.7 inch
Thickness: forte 5.5 mm, middle 4 mm.
Blade width: forte 34.5 mm, middle 30 mm.
Weight without scabbard: 661 grams

The blade has a nice even taper in width with clear central ridge. It starts with a thick forte, gradually getting thinner towards the tip. Hard edges, quite sharp in its current condition. Seven brass dots in the blade represent the big dipper, a significant constellation in Daoism. The steel is very tightly forged in an active "damascus" pattern. No apparent forging flaws and the work shows considerable control by the smith. It is rather rare to see such good steel on such a relatively late word. Also, a few isolated speckles of pitting but otherwise a very clean blade with no damage.

Fittings & hilt
All parts original, pretty well-made fittings made of sheet brass. Unfortunately the mythical dragon on the scabbard lost its tail. One fittings is marked 龍泉"longquan" in Chinese. The hardwood hilt fitted between typical Qing jian style fittings with a lobed pommel and zoomorphic guard representing the head of yazi, one of the nine sons of the dragons.

It comes in its original wooden ray-skin covered scabbard. The ray-skin is in decent condition for the most part, with a patch lost on the back of the scabbard. See pics.

Antique Chinese straightswords are rather hard to come by. Not many late jian are true weapons, but this one is. It has one of the finest steel patterns one can find on late Qing pieces.