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2,400 Year-Old Jade Sword Fittings?
#1
You never know where and when you'll find something interesting. :woot:
Once a week, I google the phrase, "Jade Sword Fittings" just to see what pops up. Usually, it's a high-end auction site listing for a rare Han Dynasty example or a nineteenth century forgery. Two weeks ago, I discovered this:

[attachment=12134]DSC_00083.JPG[/attachment]

It's a little smaller than the Late Sarmatian Type I hand-guards retrieved from Ukraine and The Crimea, but I thought it looked authentic. It was listed as a "Jade Carved Sword Fitting" by a dealer in Jiangsu, China. I checked the dealer's other offerings at his online "store." And I found this:

[attachment=12135]DSC_0010.JPG[/attachment]

The dealer called it a "Jade Amulet Netsuke." He or she didn't know what it was; but from the photo in the listing I could see three strange holes on the bottom... actually used to pin the jade carving to the bottom of the scabbard. When the two items arrived in the mail, I discovered they were even older than I expected. They're not Han Dynasty fittings, but carved before iron was introduced, back when bronze swords were worn within the court. These swords were small, only about 55 to 56 cm long. Here are the two jade fittings placed next to a reproduction of the sword owned by Gaujian (reigned 496-465 BC):

[attachment=12136]DSC_0008.JPG[/attachment]

When I received the fittings, I took them to a well-known jeweler. They are made of nephrite, real ancient jade, not the new green stuff known as "jadeite." Both pieces are stained from being in the soil for well over two millenniae... if they are authentic. I think they're the real thing because a faker wouldn't know about the three holes drilled for pinning. Also, they aren't ornate. They're styled in the correct period. So, did I locate two authentic sword fittings... OR? Comments are welcome. :dizzy:


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#2
Great (and lucky, if authentic) find. What color would they originally have been, before the staining?
Pecunia non olet
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#3
Hello, John

I'm not sure of the original color, perhaps white or yellow with a greenish hue. I photographed them late in the day, and the last rays of sunlight gave the orange hue that is not visible under artificial light. Here is a photo I lifted from Thomas Chen's excellent website, showing the orange staining on Han era fittings, basically from iron-rich soil. The colors are off, redish, due to the poor quality of a photo of a photo of a photo. :whistle:

[attachment=12145]Hanjadefittings2.jpg[/attachment]

After I created this thread with the initial post, I went back to the seller's online store because I hadn't checked it for a week. This is what I found, and it shows the color of the scabbard slide from the same sword as photographed by artificial light.

[attachment=12146]DSC03202_zpslpegqvgg.jpg[/attachment]

I was amazed, clicked on the "Buy it Now" icon and bought it. Two hours later, I received a message from the seller. He or she thanked me for the purchase and informed me that a 4th piece was originally with the set. It was still available: he gave me the item number and asked if I wanted it. If I bought it, he would ship it in the mailing packet. Here is the 4th piece-- making a complete set of sword fittings.

[attachment=12147]DSC02815_zpszk11ks01.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=12148]DSC02816_zpsfrolioks.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=12149]DSC02817_zpsqdxyejsl.jpg[/attachment]

This is the sword's pommel. In the last photo, you can see the translucent orange "pumpkin" color of the stained nephrite plus the holes drilled for attachment to the top of the grip. The scabbard slide was described as a "Official's Jade Belt Buckle," and the pommel was an "Ancient Chinese Amulet." If these pieces are authentic, and I think they are, this makes an incredibly rare complete set of Zhou era sword fittings. I'm absolutely astounded, not only by the high possibility of authenticity but by the dealer's haste in getting these pieces out of China in a big hurry.

The best source on these fittings is William Trousdale's "The Long Sword and Scabbard Slide in Asia," Smithsonian Bulletin 17, 1975. He classifies the style of these fittings as the "single hydra" type, mentions swords as small as 16 inches, and places the bronze-bladed era as 450-250BC. These are the direct ancestors of the Type I Late Sarmatian sword, and the scabbard slides were also adopted by the Romans and other Europeans.


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#4
I guess you now need to fit these on an appropriate sword blade and scabbard. Smile
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#5
Yes, Luka

Finding the correct blade will be difficult, and maybe costly. I can make a correct scabbard, but have no idea how to use the black lacquer used on the originals. This will be a project. Confusedmile:

I have been searching for tell-tale reproductions (fakes), and discovered a great number were made in the late Quing Dynasty (ended in 1911). All of these fake jobbies are carved in low relief and they generally seem to be white jade. The difference between these repros and the deep-carved art of the originals is striking. Here are some "archaic" ones actually sold at auction, showing the major difference:

[attachment=12150]archaicrepro4.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=12151]archaicrepro3.jpg[/attachment]


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#6
Quote:The scabbard slide was described as a "Official's Jade Belt Buckle," and the pommel was an "Ancient Chinese Amulet." If these pieces are authentic, and I think they are, this makes an incredibly rare complete set of Zhou era sword fittings.
Have you told the seller afterwards what the pieces are or would that be very silly?
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#7
Robert,

I'm not saying anything informative to the seller. He might increase his prices, although he certainly knows I'm buying certain shapes of "amulets." This person is selling a lot o stuff, most of it claimed to be "original." Part of his wares are new jadeite, or old snuff boxes and vases. It looks like he sells jade by weight. Yesterday I found these sweeties added to his store. Each was listed as, "Old Jade Hand Carved Dragon Statue Decoration Ancient Officials." ???? :woot: :errr: :unsure:

[attachment=12154]DSC03118_zpsbq8ymic6.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=12155]DSC03238_zpsfefvcwtm.jpg[/attachment]

Both pieces are large and belong to a scabbard for a 100cm-plus two-handed iron sword, popular during the Han Dynasty. These are 100-300 years newer than the little Zhou fittings I first posted. The sword's pommel and hand-guard will probably not show up. Ancient fittings become encased with rusted iron and not removable from the tang and blade. These examples have been in iron-rich soil, consequently very dark. Both were carved in a "mother and baby hydra" motif by an accomplished craftsman, more ornate than the best "Sarmatian" ones found in Ukraine, the same age, and also better than most museum pieces.

Honesty, Robert, I don't know what to think. It just gets weirder and weirder. :errr: Nobody can possibly afford to carve repro artifacts in this intricate high-relief style and then sell it $89 and $99, the actual price of each piece... plus free shipping! Even the pure white fakes carved in the late Quing Dynasty are selling for BIG thousands.


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#8
Very nice...

That will be my next project .
l like the Han Dynasty , etc ..

I have an original scabbard slide from the Han, which is in the display case with the Roman original .
Now I need jade material  Dodgy


Zierset für Schwerter China, Han Dynastie (206 v. Chr.-220 n. Chr.). Hellgrüne Jade. 
...................................................


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#9
Hi, David

The link you supplied to Lot 1270 shows a pre-Han set of sword and scabbard fittings, not Han Dynasty as described. These look older, like Eastern Zhou or maybe Qin. They have a single "chilong" (water dragon). Han fittings generally had two chilongs, a "mother" and "baby." (see Trusdale, The Longsword and Scabbard Slides in Asia, sections on Hydra Class) Did you get this auctioned set? Smile
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#10
Ahoj

No l have a original Han

Yes l see it after l make the post..Sorry
No but l  think is something for you..


This are later..
Drei Schwertbeschläge aus Jade, China, Ming- bis Qing-Dynastie 

...........................................

But l musst look in my books..
l musst learn more about decoration of swords from peoples in China and Asia..


Westlichen Han-Grab in der Gruft jade Schwertklinge ausgegraben äußerst luxuriöse Dekoration.
Western Han grave in the tomb jade sword blade unearthed extremely luxurious decoration.

http://de.coourl.com/article/640

The scabbard slide is a distinctive carrying device developed 2,500 years ago for the long, iron, equestrian sword. The history of the long sword and scabbard slide in Asia begins and ends in the same region, the steppelands of the southern Ural mountains. The association of this weapon and its suspension device endured for a thousand years, during which time it may be observed among many settled and nomadic cultures between China and the Mediterranean, and even beyond, as far west as France and England. The present study is an attempt to evaluate the significance of this association in its broadest cultural sense in terms of an aspect of weapons history among the peoples in Asia who employed the long sword and scabbard slide.

https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/1332


Lebendige Geschichte
Geschichtsdarstellungen aller Art für Museen, Schulen und
Geschichtsinteressierte
Experimentelle Archäologie, Archäotechnik , Museumspädagogik

E-mail:[email protected]

http://lebendigegeschichte.myblog.de/


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#11
Back to you, David

Thank you for the links. Wink

Trusdale wrote his report for the Smithsonian in 1975, and he remains the authority on scabbard slides. His work is available online as a PDF. For the swords read Simonenko, Sarmatian Riders of the North Pontic Steppe. He defined the Chinese longsword as "Sarmatian Type I," but it came to Europe with the Rhoxalani and Aorsi, 1st Century BC to 1st Century AD. The iron longsword was introduced into China about 300 BC by the Yuezhi (Saka) who lived between the Altai and Gansu. They also introduced trousers, boots, and "barbarian" archery tactics to the army of Lord Wuling of Zhao.

The Chinese then improved the iron sword by using bronze-sword techniques-- "soft in the middle (iron), hard outside (steel)." My sword blades are made by Chinese smiths in the traditional manner.

   
An original iron longsword from the Ural steppe.

   
Two Type I Sarmatian swords. For reenactment,  I carry the longest, and my grandson Devyn carries the shorter one.

   
A Han-era scabbard slide with 2 chilongs, mother and baby. I can't afford to have jade carved, so this is a brass reproduction.

Anyway, good luck with your experimental archaeology. Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#12
So than l have good book from Trousdale..
The Long Sword and Scabbard Slide in Asia.


Yes..
King Wuling of Zhao, the reigned in the State of Zhao during the Warring States period.


Many Roman swords are also soft in the middle (iron), hard outside (steel).
Antique technologies are:
Antique Damask technology like welded steel, 
sandwich blade, wood structure or soft core with attached cutting etc.


Lebendige Geschichte
Geschichtsdarstellungen aller Art für Museen, Schulen und
Geschichtsinteressierte
Experimentelle Archäologie, Archäotechnik , Museumspädagogik

E-mail:[email protected]

http://lebendigegeschichte.myblog.de/


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#13
I have removed several links due to breach of rule nr 4.
Post images folks. Not links to auction houses.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#14
Mea culpa................

Oh sorry.... Confused
 
I will delete the links to the auction houses.


Lebendige Geschichte
Geschichtsdarstellungen aller Art für Museen, Schulen und
Geschichtsinteressierte
Experimentelle Archäologie, Archäotechnik , Museumspädagogik

E-mail:[email protected]

http://lebendigegeschichte.myblog.de/


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