A very fine Chinese straightsword, jian | Mandarin Mansion

A very fine Chinese straightsword, jian

This Chinese straightsword or jian (劍) of the late 19th century represents the height of the sword maker's art of its period. The thick, substantial blade has a massive forte after which a wide fuller is expertly cut. There is a gold dragon inlay at the forte. Edges and bevels are very precisely formed, with crisp, straight lines. There are no losses, no chips or nicks and the forging is very tight without any cold shuts.

The heavy blade is well balanced due to the fact that a lot of the weight is in the forte, and the deep and wide fuller further lightens the large blade. It is very stiff and rings like a bell when struck, signs of excellent steel. Currently it is not in full polish, but a small window reveals very tight layering with a nice, obvious "damascus" forging pattern.

Overall length: 89.5 cm / 35.20 inch
Blade length: 68.1 cm / 26.8 inch
Thickness: forte 9 mm, middle 6 mm, near tip 4.5 mm
Blade width: forte 35 mm, middle 32 mm.
Weight without scabbard: 871 grams

Apart from the blade, its most striking features are the cloisonné scabbard and handle. This general decorative pattern is mostly known to us collectors from the many late, lower end weapons that survived where they consist of a thin brass wire wrapped around a scabbard, then lacquered. Over time, the wire often came loose. On this example, it is instead done with thick pieces of brass and many layers of high quality lacquer, lacquered repeatedly and then carefully polished smooth to create a firm, durable, and almost indestructible finish. It is the technique most of us in antiques know from the many cloisonné vases of the same period. The precision of the design, quality of the overall finish and its current condition are excellent. All parts original, no restorations have been done other than light cleaning of the brass.

This impressive straightsword represents the epitome of late 19th century sword making. It is among the best Chinese jian we have had in our years of collecting and trading.


Interested? Further questions?
Contact: peter@mandarinmansion.com