Southern Chinese bannerman saber | Mandarin Mansion

Southern Chinese bannerman saber

A group of very similar swords has surfaced, which all seem to date to around the mid 19th century. Their common features are: a thick, single edged, straight or gently curving blade, tapering considerably in width, with a long false backedge as found on Chinese hudiedao. The hilts have brass fittings of the round style (yuanshi, and a simple leather scabbard again in the style of butterfly swords or hudiedao.

They often come with military markings on the left side of the forte, designating them to a certain division of the Eight Banners, the warrior elite of the Qing dynasty. On this example, the banner markings seem to be chiseled away. This probably happened when the saber got a new purpose, perhaps post-Qing when the banner system fell apart.

The scabbard construction and general blade shape remind strongly of single and double weapons associated with south China and its martial arts, like hudiedao. All considering, I think this means it's probably a weapon made for a Bannerman that was stationed in one of the southern garrisons like Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

Overall length: 82 cm / 32.3 inch
Blade length: 63 / 25 inch
Blade thickness: 9 mm at base, 5 mm middle, 3 mm at tip.
Blade width: 40 mm at base, 31 mm middle, 28 mm at backedge, 19.5 mm at tip.
Weight: 790 grams

This Chinese military dao is built around a thick, well-made blade. It's tunkou, normally a brass sleeve around the base of the blade, is in this case integrated in the blade. It has two well-cut grooves and a very deep dimple on either side, and a long false backedge leading up to the point. It is heavy but excellently balanced. The base of the blade shows scratches, almost as if the military markings were erased here. This might have been done when the weapon changed ownership, or after the fall of the Qing and its banner system. Blade in very good shape, some pitting but no nicks or cracks.

The handle is very fine for one of these, even compared to other Qing military sabers of the same period. It retains its original grip wrap, done with exceptionally fine black cord. The guard with openings, making it coin-shaped, has a nicely worked bamboo sectioned rim. The pommel and ferrule are stylishly finished with dotted lines and delicate coin shapes, auspicious symbols that represent fortune.

In "as found" condition. No restorations. Some play in the handle, which can be easily fixed on request. The leather scabbard is in fairly good condition, only missing the tip section which is unfortunately very common on this type of scabbard.

A rather nice example of a type of antique Chinese saber that was used by the elite Eight Banners of Southern China. It has a massive, quality blade that provides and excellent balance. It has a finely executed handle with auspicious coin decoration. Quite a find for anyone with an interest in Qing military weapons.

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