Chinese crescent moon maces
Overall length

A: 58.3 cm
B: 58 cm

Rod length from hilt

A: 42.1 cm
B: 42.1 cm

Thickness of bar

A: forte 17.5 mm, middle 14 mm
B: forte 18 mm, middle 14 mm

Crescent moons

A: 122 mm x 22 mm
B: 123.5 mm x 21.5 mm

(width x max blade width)

Weight

A: 1063 grams
B: 1141 grams

Point of balance

A: 7.5 cm from guard
B: 7.7 cm from guard

Origin

China

Materials

Iron, steel, cotton cord.

Dating

18th or 19th century

Provenance

From a German source

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Chinese martial arts are famously known for the use of a wide array of weapons. Some weapons are peculiar to a certain region, some may even be peculiar to a single martial art. Not surprisingly, perhaps, considering the size of China, that every once in a while a unique weapon turns up that eludes classification.

Today we have another such weapon, or rather, a set of weapons.

 

Description

The overall shape resembles the chāi (), a Chinese weapon that spread to Okinawa and got known there as the "sai" which has the same handle with a fork-like guard, with a long central bar. Like many chāi, the rods have an octagonal cross-section and taper gradually in thickness. The substantial guards have a rectangular cross-section and marked taper towards the ends of their quillons.

A significant departure from conventional chāi design is that at the very tip of each of the bars here is a large crescent moon with semi-sharp edges. Overall workmanship is pretty good for this type of weapon.

The handles are wrapped with cord, retaining the original wrappings that are still tight.

The pommels are iron truncated cubes. Both pommels are slightly offset from the alignment of the guard and moon tips, but both in the exact same way so it is most likely deliberate.

Some stabilized corrosion here and there. Pretty good condition.

 

Functionality

The thrust is considered the most lethal attack of an edged weapon and the crescent moons minimize the effect of exactly that. Therefore I get the impression that the weapons are designed for a style that sought to avoid dealing lethal damage by accident. Instead, the set probably served to catch an incoming weapon with one hand and strike the attacking arm with the other, rendering the opponent harmless.

The hook formed on either side of the crescent moons could be used to hook a weapon or limb, and in the worst case, it could be used to deliver a very damaging strike with one of its tips.

Many martial artists made an occasional living by working as security guards for important people or travelers. In the best case, they would immobilize an attacker but would avoid doing too much damage, so they wouldn't get in trouble with local authorities. It seems that this weapon would suit such a purpose very well.

 

Comparable examples

I've sold one rather similar, but more stubby set in 2019. At the time no others were known to me so I suspected it was perhaps a custom set made to order. By a stroke of luck, this second set was offered to me this year indicating that it was a class of weapons, albeit a very rare class.

 

Crescent moon weapons comparison

This set (left) compared to a set I sold previously (right).

Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces
Chinese crescent moon maces

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Contact me

Unusual set of paired Chinese maces of good workmanship.

Sold

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,-

With markings attributing it to the Tongzhou incident and a Japanese surrender tag.

€9500,-

Built around an imported blade, with a human head shaped pommel.

€800,-