Chinese export sword-guard | Mandarin Mansion

Chinese export sword-guard

Height & width: 83 x 75mm
Thickness: 3.5mm
Weight: 123 grams

Origin: Purely Chinese guard. Adjusted for Japanese use.
Materials: Iron, gold, silver.
Proposed dating: 18th century.
Use: Has been mounted.

An unusual find, because this is a purely Chinese guard and not a very ornate one. A simple solid plate, with no fancy openwork but instead superficial engraving that was once damascened in gold and silver. Such guards would normally adorn the sabers of lower ranked officers. The decor is typical for Chinese guards, with two dragons chasing a flaming pearl on one side, and vegetal motifs on the other.

Despite its humble nature, this example apparently did make it to Japan to be mounted on a katana. It was probably in Japanese hands where the apertures for the kogai and kozuka, a pin and a knife often worn in the side of the Japanese scabbard, were added. Also, the tang aperture indicates the edge is aligned upwards, while on Chinese sabers the edge would be pointing down. It may be that the existing tang aperture was modified, or it perhaps it was imported without a tang aperture to begin with for the local worker to adjust it to taste.

The size of the guard indicates it was mounted on a katana Where the shorter wakizashji could be worn by many, the katana was only worn by the samurai warrior class or outlaws like pirates.

A fairly humble Chinese sword-guard that somehow made its way to Japan, or at least a Japanese owner, to be adjusted and mounted on a katana. Was the owner a seafarer, a samurai, or perhaps a wokou pirates? If only the piece could speak.

€ 200,-

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