Language: Chinese
Source: In common use

Description

Duǎnjiàn (短劍) literally means "short sword" where the word for sword, jiàn, specifically refers to a double-edged straightsword.

On today's antique market, duǎnjiàn are one of the most commonly encountered Chinese arms. Their small size and exotic appearance made them popular tourist curios that easily fit in the steamer trunks of the day, and they were brought back en masse. One of the main production centers of these was Canton, known today as Guangzhou.

 

Varieties

Duǎnjiàn come in a few main varieties. The most obvious distinction is that between sets of single duǎnjiàn and double swords, called shuāngjiàn (雙劍).

In terms of mounting styles, there are:

1. Fúshòu (福壽) style with stylized bats and longevity symbols.
Guards on the fúshòu are often en suite, with a longevity symbol and bats on the guard as well, but sometimes of Tāotiè (饕餮) form with a stylized monster without a lower jaw.

Fushou jian

A Chinese shortsword with classic fúshòu mountings.
Less common is the heavy gilding and white parchment scabbard.
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2021.


2. Kuíwén (夔紋) style with archaic kuī dragon patterns.
The kuíwén type is almost exclusively seen with Tāotiè (饕餮) guards. Usually one of the mounts has a salamander-like chīlóng (螭龍) or "rain dragon" on it, and often one of the mounts has the words Lóngquán (龍泉) as well, referring to the famous sword-making town in Zhejiang province. Their style being typical for Guangzhou, I believe the referral was mainly symbolic.

Classic kuiwen style

A set of double swords of classic kuíwén style.
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2021.

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Presented by the local Dai nobility to a British customs officer in 1936.

€2000,-

With designs of four dragons in scrollwork around a "wish-granting-jewel"

€2900,-

A purely Chinese guard and not a very orn

€175,-

With heavy pierced silver mounts in with archaic dragon designs.

€1200,-

Such rings were worn by Qing dynasty "bannermen" as a sign of their status as a conquest elite.

€600,-

A Chinese sword guard from the 18th century with a Buddhist mantra in lantsa script.

€800,-