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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:23 am    Post subject: Zubeng Tang jian commision         Reply with quote

Sword Review Zubeng Tang Jian

Specifications:

Blade Material: Master Chen’s Tamahagane
Layers: between 1 and 2 million layers
Weight of blade: 1100g
Materials of Furniture: Silver with Gold filigree/inlay


A pic to start with and then the story!








A little of my background - I have been studying and collecting mostly custom swords for over a decade. I teach and train in ZNKR Iaido, Jodo, Muso Shinden Ryu Iai and Shinto Muso Ryu Jo (sounds like a lot but it really is only two martial arts and they really form one.

Anyway I have always been fascinated by the Chinese arts and their association as predecessor to the Japanese arts both martial and craftwise.

After seeing the fantastic thread on these forums by Master Rich Chen on his traditional sword making I decided to contact him about a Jian commission.

http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showt...omsearch=1

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...ght=zubeng

We had numerous discussions as I really had a stereotypical Jian in mind and I thought to discuss and negotiate what “I” wanted. Master Chen was very polite and direct, he said “There are many ways, I have my way” or words to that effect and went on to discuss what he does and why.

I tried to get the price down (I am embarrassed to admit) and Master Chen was very friendly, polite and thanked me for my interest in real Chinese swords and said that he hoped that one day I would own one of his swords.

I understand that Master Chen has been approached by the Chinese government to make swords for heads of state, presidents from other countries etc for special presentations. I tossed and turned and spent quite a bit of time considering this large purchase. I realised that here is a man with such passion, knowledge and skills in his craft and here I am haggling over price and details!

Anyway I realised that I was talking with a man with great honour and sent an email to ask a couple more questions to clarify some points and then proceed.

I didn’t hear back from him for a few days I sent another couple of emails – I can’t remember exactly and assumed that he just got tired of this foreigners tiresome questions. ( I later found out that the constant black-outs and loss of power had caused the break in conversation ) During this time I decided to contact another high end smith and commissioned and paid for a very expensive and high end Jian.

The following day, I received an email from Master Chen apologising for the delay in response and explaining what had happened – ahhhhhhhghhhh. Bloody hell I had just spent a great deal of money on what will certainly be a great sword… but, the more I thought about his swords made from iron sand the more I desired one.

I sold quite few things scraped together the 50% deposit and the job was started. If my wife ever finds out I will find out first hand how sharp the sword is!!!

I have always thought that with commissions from people like Patrick Barta, Jake Powning, Vince Evans, John Lundemo and other best of the best of the Western style smiths that the wisest thing is let them have freedom to make what they wanted to make as they are the artists.

I ordered a style from his website but said to him that is there was anything he wanted to do different, then I have complete faith that he will only release a sword that he is 100% happy with.
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Master Chen performs a bend test on the forged blade




Clay coating



Clay with charcoal powder.



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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Polishing





Fittings – Hand engraved silver with gold inlay. This design is a one off.








Chiseling of Master Chen’s signature on the tang






Certification





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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword will arrive later this week and I will post my thoughts

Cheers

Jason
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One correction I need to make - the fittings are indeed one off and hand engraved but they were sent to a silver smith to make the pieces.

I also believe this Jian to be in between Tang and Ming Dynasties.

Cheers

Jason
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2009 10:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Overall Length: 119cm (46.9”)
Length of Blade 79cm (31.1”) (measured from habaki)
PoB: 19cm from Guard (7.5”)

When I received with sword and knowing the journey this has taken nearly brought tears to my eyes, I knew the sword would be superb but this really just blew me away! It FAR exceeds my very high expectations. The fittings are beautifully detailed, I would say them the theme is Sakura (Cherry blossoms) but am not sure if this is the same meaning in Chinese? Silver will tarnish quickly so I think that when the silver takes on the darker tones this will add further character to the sword.

I spent a large amount of money I truly believe that I got a bargain and certainly an Heirloom piece. I think my sword spending is over for a while now but as we all know this collecting passion we have here is an addiction – oh well bread and water for me for a while now!

So here are the pics – hats off to you guys that can photograph swords well because it is sooo difficult! BTW the katanakake is one I made a few years ago from West Australian Jarrah – I will continue my search for a vertical stand.







I have better sharper images if anyone is interested?
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic looking weapon you have here! Admitedly, I have never had much in-depth interest in chinese weapons - there is just too much to be done with styles I am primarily interessed in, but one have to recognise true art when he sees it. Again, congratulations on fantastic addition to your collection!
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 01 Sep, 2009 11:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artis Aboltins wrote:
Fantastic looking weapon you have here! Admitedly, I have never had much in-depth interest in chinese weapons - there is just too much to be done with styles I am primarily interessed in, but one have to recognise true art when he sees it. Again, congratulations on fantastic addition to your collection!


Thanks for your kind words Artis

I know what you mean with being interested in particular styles and I have this site to blame for my increasing interest and growing collection of European swords!!!

Cheers

Jase
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,435

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 1:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic work; I'm sure it's worth every dime. The stand's pretty nice, too.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Etienne Hamel




Location: Granby (QC) canada
Joined: 09 Sep 2006

Posts: 428

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow a real piece of art Eek! i wouldn't dare using it exept if it would save my life.

how much custom project like this cost ? must be really expensive! Eek!
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Etienne Hamel wrote:
Wow a real piece of art Eek! i wouldn't dare using it exept if it would save my life.

how much custom project like this cost ? must be really expensive! Eek!


Thanks Etienne!

I agree, I wont be test cutting with this sword.

Expensive is very subjective. Some people see great value in a modern painting or sculpture, for me I see great value in the craft of the steel.

I prefer not to discuss aspects such as cost on a public forum, suffice it to say that not all items coming from China are budget priced.

I am happy for you to PM me if you want to know an approximate dollar value to commission such a sword.

Cheers

Jason
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Josh MacNeil




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 23 Jul 2008

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You mentioned the sword contained 1-2 million layers in your initial post. I just did the math, and that translates to about 20-21 folds. That's impressive. I'm still a novice with the specifics of smithing, but from what I understand the general consensus is that the benefits of pattern welding start to diminish after the tenth fold. Yet I hear some Japanese smiths will debate that a sword requires at least 13 folds. When you get up to twenty folds like this, it demonstrates that the smith must know some very special secrets about crafting a blade of that quality. I have to say that piece goes beyond being a weapon and ascends to a godlike level of art. It's beauty is truly humbling. Congratulations on your new treasure!
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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh MacNeil wrote:
You mentioned the sword contained 1-2 million layers in your initial post. I just did the math, and that translates to about 20-21 folds. That's impressive. I'm still a novice with the specifics of smithing, but from what I understand the general consensus is that the benefits of pattern welding start to diminish after the tenth fold. Yet I hear some Japanese smiths will debate that a sword requires at least 13 folds. When you get up to twenty folds like this, it demonstrates that the smith must know some very special secrets about crafting a blade of that quality. I have to say that piece goes beyond being a weapon and ascends to a godlike level of art. It's beauty is truly humbling. Congratulations on your new treasure!


Hi Josh,

I think the number of layers is a little ambiguous - I think more layers are needed to get rid of impurities and higher numbers needed when smelting your own steel from iron sand.

Some people use the numbers of layers as a marketing + $$ tool but I can comfortably say this is not the case with Master Chen, in fact when I asked him about he was kind of saying it is not important, it takes as many as it needs.

Hopefully we can encourage him to come to this forum to answer questions? His english is limited and sometimes has an English speaking colleague translate - and sometimes things get lost in the translation.

THanks for your kind comments about my new sword.

Cheers

Jason
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Bobby H.




Location: YangJiang, Guangdong China
Joined: 26 Aug 2009

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi all, i think i can answer this question.

master chen folds 13 times for the carbon content he wants. he also wants 1 million layers or a little more. i think this sword has 1.3 million layers. it is folded 13 times.

however for those that do not know all the folds are not only in 2's. some are in 3's that will let master chen get the layers he wants and only fold 13 times. so with this in mind 2, 4, 8, 16, that is in 2's. but sometimes he will fold in 3's being 3, 9, 27, 81........ so it is not always as we think in the folding.

thanks


Josh MacNeil wrote:
You mentioned the sword contained 1-2 million layers in your initial post. I just did the math, and that translates to about 20-21 folds. That's impressive. I'm still a novice with the specifics of smithing, but from what I understand the general consensus is that the benefits of pattern welding start to diminish after the tenth fold. Yet I hear some Japanese smiths will debate that a sword requires at least 13 folds. When you get up to twenty folds like this, it demonstrates that the smith must know some very special secrets about crafting a blade of that quality. I have to say that piece goes beyond being a weapon and ascends to a godlike level of art. It's beauty is truly humbling. Congratulations on your new treasure!



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J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Bobby,

Nice to see you here!

Thanks for posting that pic, - great shot! I'll add that to my Jian scrapbook and thanks for the additional info on the folding/layers thingy Happy

Cheers

Jase
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This sort of sword is not my cup of tea. However, I can recognize the beauty of the piece. It is fantastic. Truly a work of art! I'm sure you are more than happy with this gorgeous piece!
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