General Qi's saber

Tang swords Part 2

Tang sword fittings

Question 1

Question 2

Chronology Table


Wooden surface grain pics

Heat-treatment Patterns Part 2

Da Dao Part 2

Ridged Cross-Sections

Main Page

Ming Cavalry / Infantry

Qianlong Repro

Sui sword fittings

Qing Imperial Jian

Photo3 Page


Well-preserved tomb mural painting dating earlier than the Sui Dynasty, around the time of the Southern Dynasty ( AD 420 - 479 ), showing two Imperial Guards with their breastplate armour and 2-handed long swords known as "yidao". Notice their characteristic ring pommels, a legacy from the Han Dynasty. This type of 2-handed "yidao" continued to be the standard sidearm of the Imperial Guards during the later Sui and Tang Dynasties.

Left inset pic: A Sui-Tang period golden ring pommel with 2 dragons facing each other; their scaly bodies twisted and interlocked together, forming a ring. This piece was excavated from the archaeological site of a palace dating from that period...

Right side pic: Excavated Sui Dynasty ( 581 - 618 AD ) sword in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Photo has been digitally retouched by me.)

The design of these suspension mounts originated from Sassanian Persia and was transmitted to China sometime around the late 5th - early 6th centuries AD. In this example, the suspension mounts and the scabbard end-cap are made out of silver. As for the ring pommel, it is like the one on the left, depicting two dragons facing each other. 

There is a possibility that this weapon, said to have been excavated from an aristocratic tomb near Luoyang, was a Sui Imperial Court sword. Note that the handle grip was most likely originally wrapped in white ray-skin (long since disintegrated).

Illustration of Sui Dynasty pottery figures representing Imperial Guards, in the collection of the Museum of Chinese History in Beijing. Notice their 2-handed long swords (yidao) featuring ring pommels and suspension mounts.