S-shaped Chinese spearhead overall
Overall length

96 cm

Blade length

38.5 cm

Weight

1713 grams

Materials

Iron/steel

Origin

Southern China

Dating

19th century

Provenance

From an old European collection

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Description

A large Chinese polearm head with an undulating blade. Several polearms incorporating such blades appear in the 1759 Huangchao Liqi Tushi (皇朝禮器圖式) or "Illustrated Regulations on the Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Dynasty" but among antiques, they are quite rare.

This example is quite massive, with an elongated cone-shaped socket suggesting it went on a very large diameter shaft. The blade itself is nicely made, each curve being precisely formed and just a bit smaller than the next. The slender base between the socket and head is nicely shaped and decorated with chiseled decoration. The work reminds strongly of the southern Chinese "tiger fork" or hǔchā (虎叉).

 

S-shaped spear comparison to tiger fork

Our spearhead (left) compared to a typical Southern tiger fork (right).
Tiger fork sold by Mandarin Mansion in 2021.

 

Missing ornament?

There is a copper rivet that goes through the lower part of the blade, and at the blade's base there are two "shoulders". Both indicate that there was once something else. Large processional pole-arms were sometimes fitted with hollow brass ornaments i the form of dragon heads or a boxy "eight trigrams", and I suspect that is what might be missing from this one. There is no marked difference in patina, suggesting that whatever ornament was there has been gone for quite some time.

 

 

 

S-shaped Chinese spearhead
S-shaped Chinese spearhead
S-shaped Chinese spearhead
S-shaped Chinese spearhead
S-shaped Chinese spearhead

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