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

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Question: Why is there so little information and knowledge on Chinese swords, be it in books or on the Internet ?? I get the feeling that Chinese swords are under-studied and under-appreciated....May I know what is being done to rectify the situation and who is doing it ??

ANSWER: To answer your key question, basically, China has had an unfavourable and disorderly external and internal environment since the 1840s to 1976 (from the time of the Opium Wars to the end of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution). As a result, it was only from 1978 onwards that China under Deng Xiaoping started to implement economic reforms and modernize.

From the time of the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 (where many Chinese Imperial swordsmiths were out of a job and I believe most of them died out without training any students/apprentices to succeed them) to the year 2002, there has not been any national effort by the mainland Chinese government or Taiwanese government to fund research/scholarship, initate museum exhibitions etc. on Chinese steel swords. Chinese bronze swords are already well-documented and researched, but private and public efforts in China and Taiwan to research and document the Chinese steel sword has been minimal. These factors and others have led to the fact that presently, these weapons are under-studied and under-appreciated.

However, I am confident that this situation can be corrected through the implementation of a few strategic plans and measures.

I intend to act as a catalyst to initiate the setting up of a International Chinese Sword Society (I.C.S.S.). I also plan to do fundraising (by approaching governmental, cultural and philanthropic organizations) in order to setup a quasi-permanent museum exhibit on Chinese swords.

I would like to convince the most important wushu organizations in the US, Taiwan and China to consider setting an International Chinese Swordsmanship Federation as well.

My long-term aim is to lobby and get the mainland Chinese and Taiwanese governments involved directly, financially and otherwise, where they could assist in the setting up of officially government-approved Chinese sword societies in Beijing, Shanghai, HongKong and Taipei. These would then be places where sword scholars and collectors/buyers can interact, and papers published and exhibitions/lectures held on a periodic basis.

With the continued economic development of China in the next 50 years, as living standards improve, I hope to see more Chinese taking up self-employed swordsmithing as full-time jobs and better-off Chinese buying antique swords or commissioning new ones. In time, the market would reach critical mass and that would justify a nationally-funded Chinese swordsmithing/polishing school.

Another area to work on is the education of the huge pool of wushu or kungfu practitioners the world over about the benefits and realism of training with an antique or modern-made but traditionally-forged Chinese jian or dao, rather than with those cheap wushu weapons we see nowadays. Demand for quality Chinese swords would expand exponentially if we target not just collectors, but also this large group of martial artists.

I don't think that any non-Chinese could denigrate the state or condition of the Chinese sword world right now. I would really like to see if any person could preserve their native sword tradition if his own nation has been through almost 200 years of war and disorder.

We, as Chinese, should put in our hearts and best efforts into preserving and promoting the Chinese sword, especially among the mainland and overseas Chinese, so that this valuable and most tangible part of our military/martial heritage would always be honoured and cherished forever...

The founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, who had once spent 13 years fighting against Mongol warriors and Chinese warlords, said this: " Nothing is impossible for a man of strong will. " We can and will surely achieve our goals.....