A Chinese pole arm blade | Mandarin Mansion

A Chinese pole arm blade

Overall length: 73.3 cm / 28.9 inch
Blade length: 58 cm / 22.8 inch
Blade thickness: 7 mm at base, 6 mm middle, 2.5 mm at tip
Blade width: 43 mm at base, 73 mm at spike
Weight: 1342 grams

Here we have an interesting Chinese pole-arm blade whose shape defies classification. The blade shape is clipped, with indentations in its upper edge. This feature is also seen on a rare type of Chinese saber, the yanchidao. The indentations in the edge suggest a resemblance with the ends of feathers on an actual wing, suggesting the pole-arm fits in this stylistic group. The blade with deep, dark patina and pitting.

The blade profile is not the only interesting aspect, the middle of the blade also has a mildly T-shaped cross section. This feature is never seen on Chinese arms, and more common on weapons from Northeast India and Pakistan like Khyber swords and daggers called pesh-kabz.

At the base of the blade is a large tunkou in the shape of Yazi, the most ferocious among the nine sons of the dragon in Chinese mythology. It is cast, engraved and decorated with circle punches. Just behind the head is a four lobed guard. The guard is a little loose. The socket is well made for one of these, with a straight seem and reinforced rim.

Chinese pole arms are hard to date because most have seen many decades of neglect, and the build up of patina varies greatly depending on climate and storage conditions. Because antique collecting and preservation was consider bourgeois under early communist rule, there are no museum collections with well documented specimens so we are mostly left to period art, period witness accounts, and period regulations to date and classify these weapons. Normally I would try to date them stylistically, but I can't recall having encountered another example of this type. My best guess based on style, quality and workmanship is that it is from the early 19th century and possibly made for a provincial Green Standard Army unit, who often fulfilled local law enforcement roles.

An interesting Chinese pole arm of somewhat rare form, with wing-shaped blade and large brass dragon mouth collar.


Interested? Questions?
Contact peter@mandarinmansion.com

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