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Thread: Chinese swords circa Ming and Qing

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    Default Chinese swords circa Ming and Qing

    An interesting couple of videos. I still have to finish the second video, but from past experience I have no doubt he will be historically rigorous and explore details I never knew existed. The first video has a Japanese-influenced sword which he assumes came from China's then wars with Japan.

    Scholagladiatoria

    Swords of the Ming Dynasty: Introduction to One-Handed Types

    CHINESE Swords & Swordsmen in Victorian Times: Period Combat Accounts

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    I imagine the highwater mark of swordmaking workmanship was likely attained during the Ming Dynasty. Better materials were becoming available, and so were better technology and methodologies after accumulating centuries of experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    I imagine the highwater mark of swordmaking workmanship was likely attained during the Ming Dynasty. Better materials were becoming available, and so were better technology and methodologies after accumulating centuries of experience.
    He felt that Chinese swords had stagnated by Ming due to internalisation, unlike the constant wars in Europe that drove innovation, causing Chinese jian to become a status symbol rather than a practical weapon. The dao continued to develop, as the side weapon of the fighting man. Wars with foreign countries caused Chinese swords to start developing again in late Ming.

    The second video has some British accounts of fights with Chinese swordsmen. As of necessity the British win the fights (otherwise they wouldn't be alive to write the accounts), but in at least one of the accounts the Briton credits his victory to his superior (longer) sword than the Chinese jian (which he calls a shortsword), since the Chinese swordsman was superior in skill.

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    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pannonian View Post
    He felt that Chinese swords had stagnated by Ming due to internalisation, unlike the constant wars in Europe that drove innovation, causing Chinese jian to become a status symbol rather than a practical weapon. The dao continued to develop, as the side weapon of the fighting man. Wars with foreign countries caused Chinese swords to start developing again in late Ming.

    The second video has some British accounts of fights with Chinese swordsmen. As of necessity the British win the fights (otherwise they wouldn't be alive to write the accounts), but in at least one of the accounts the Briton credits his victory to his superior (longer) sword than the Chinese jian (which he calls a shortsword), since the Chinese swordsman was superior in skill.
    As the old saying goes "Han Jian, Tang Dao", it was during these periods of massive expansion that necessitated the rapid development of Chinese weapons.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandred Skavenslayer View Post
    As the old saying goes "Han Jian, Tang Dao", it was during these periods of massive expansion that necessitated the rapid development of Chinese weapons.
    Were Chinese swords made of bronze or iron during the Han Dynasty? Presumably, China was well into the Iron Age by the Han Dynasty, but for the longest time, they were using bronze swords. Those bronze swords looked pretty rough and brittle.

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    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Were Chinese swords made of bronze or iron during the Han Dynasty? Presumably, China was well into the Iron Age by the Han Dynasty, but for the longest time, they were using bronze swords. Those bronze swords looked pretty rough and brittle.
    Both. Bronze was used in the early Han Dynasty but iron and later steel became dominant by the middle of the Dynasty. Bronze is softer but not brittle, it blunts easier but is unlikely to outright snap when facing iron.

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