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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Wed 04 Feb, 2004 11:40 am    Post subject: SE Asian swords         Reply with quote

Dear Andrew,

Mikkel Pedersen is a generally honest and reliable dealer in antiquities, I do not always agree with his identifications and I often thing that dagger length weapons are often puffed up to be called swords.

I don't mind too much if a dealer puffs up a description a bit to exaggerate the artifacts assets, I just reserve the right to laugh a bit when I see them.

Those daggers with the slotted hilts are not baskets, they are fully enclosed and cast hollow to save metal. They may have originally been cast over a soft clay core which was then removed after casting, this would have save a significant amout of metal, just compare a solid hilt with a hollow one and you will see what I mean. Balance is not an important factor in a short dagger. This style dagger is not rare unless found in extraordinary length (say a 12" blade) that might legitimately be called a short sword. I have several of them posted under Photos>All Albums>SE Asia>Dong Son>Daggers if you would like to see my examples.

I am not hesitant to characterize the haphazard way that museums mischaracterize their identifications and datings of items in their collections. They do not have experts in all areas and are too ready to accept their donor's word in describing and antique or antiquity. It may serve the Donor to exaggerate the identification and dating in order to gain a larger tax deduction for himself, a cooperative venture with the museum. Museums are more than willing to provide a donor with an inflated acceptance letter. A Letter stating "Thank you for your donation of a Dong Son Vietnamese sword valued at $8,000." looks a lot better than one stating "Thank you for your donation of a Burmese Dha valued at $250."

Oscar Muscarella of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City wrote a book "The Lie Became Great: The Forgery of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures". His book's topic is how the fakes and frauds in museum collections have resulted in the misinterpretation of actual history by misleading researchers as to what an artist in modern days considered to be the antique style.

I just searched eBay using Bronze Sword, my search brought up 482 items, all but two of which, Mikkel's Dong Son dagger and Artemission's tanged sword blade without a hilt, are modern copies and fantasies. All of these bogus antiquities are capable of lasting for thousands of years, causing no end to the confusion of future historians and collectors.

I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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Andrew Winston




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Wed 04 Feb, 2004 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John:

I agree completely with your last comment. Inaccurately or even fraudulently provenanced weapons (be they ancient or "just" antique) appear with alarming frequency in museum and private collections. The inevitable legacy will be to further muddy the historical waters. The best thing we collectors can do is to establish provenance when possible, and use secondary resources to accurately document what we do know about a piece. Unfortunately, even the most jaded and incredulous collector occasionally gets taken in by a fraudulent or misidentified piece. A heavy burden, I think, particularly when a piece can improperly assume the legitimacy of a well-respected collection, which it otherwise might not enjoy or deserve.

I probably could have used a better term than "basket", particularly around here where so many basket hilted weapons are discussed. Yes, you described the pommel structure I was referring to.

I'm still troubled, however, by the proliferation of those hollow-pommelled Dong Son daggers. The patination always looks a bit young for a 2000 year-old bronze weapon. Also, I'm only aware of one such weapon being officially documented (I'm away from my sources, however). Is it really plausible that more than one has been discovered, or that those additional weapons made it so easily onto the open market? Again, no offense intended towards the dealer you mentioned.

Best,
Andrew

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Wed 04 Feb, 2004 4:49 pm    Post subject: Dong Son Slotted Hilt Daggers         Reply with quote

Dear Andrew,

I have a Vietnamese language book that describes and illustrates this style dagger. I doubt that they are a rare style, I assume that items that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars are not going to be museum pieces or national treasures.

I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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Andrew Winston




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2003

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Wed 04 Feb, 2004 7:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Dong Son Slotted Hilt Daggers         Reply with quote

John Piscopo wrote:
Dear Andrew,

I have a Vietnamese language book that describes and illustrates this style dagger. I doubt that they are a rare style, I assume that items that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars are not going to be museum pieces or national treasures.


John:

Actually, that's my point. I don't think these are rare. I just think authentic, ancient, original examples are rare. Wink

I've thoroughly enjoyed our discussion. Thank you! Happy

Best regards,
Andrew

"I gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.
And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."
-Richard Milhous Nixon
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 06 Feb, 2004 7:54 am    Post subject: SE Asia Bibliography         Reply with quote

Dear Friends,

For the few of you who have been following this thread of discussion and would like to learn more about the cultures and civilizations of SE Asia, I would recommend the following books:

Bagkey, Robert, Editor. Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization. Seattle Art Museum, Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. 200. The companion art book to the traveling exhibit on loan from the PRC. Sichuan Province in SW China was the home of the Qiang, Ba and Shu areas which were independent minority non-Chinese kingdoms until they were incorporated into the Han Empire. Their weapons are offered as Western Han but they are not Chinese.

Higham, Charles. Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia. River Books. Bangkok, Thailand. 2002. English language.

Higham, Charles & Thosarar, Rachani. Prehistoric Thailand From Early Settlement to Sukhothai. River Books. Bangkok, Thailand. 1998. English language.

Higham, Charles. The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK. 1996. English language.

Charles Higham is Professor of Anthropology at tge University of Otago in New Zealand and is the go to guy in the study of SE Asia.

Ha Van Tan. Van Hoa Dong Son O Viet Nam. Nha Xuat Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi. Hanoi, Vietnam. 1994. Vietnamese language. Great for the study of Dong Son weapons as well as drums and other artifacts. The slotted hilt daggers cited above are illustrated twice, on plate XIV as a line drawing and on page 461 and in actual photos in color as figures 24 & 25
on page 512.

Zhang, Zengqi. Dian Guo yu Dian Wenhua (Dian Kingdom and Dian Culture. Yunnan, China. 1998. Chinese language.
The Dian Kingdom was ruled by non Chinese in Yunnan Province and its culture was more like that of the Dong Son in Vietnam than the Han Chinese. The Weapons and Artifacts are in color plates at the beginning of the book and line drawing interspersed with the Chinese text.

These books, and others on Ancient China and Chinese weapons can be purchased from Paragon Book Gallery:
http://paragonbook.com/

I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2004 8:24 am    Post subject: Dian Kingdom Exhibit in Beijing         Reply with quote

Hereafter an article introducing the Dian Kingdom and the exhibition
I mentionned in my previuous post.

Record Yunnan's past
( 2004-01-29 08:58) (China Daily)


More than 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese historian Sima Qian
trekked his way into the areas of what are known today as Southwest
China's Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces.

After the fact-finding trip, Sima wrote in "Records of the
Historian" that the largest community in what is Yunnan today was
called "Dian."

In the Kingdom of Dian, local residents wore their hair knotted on
top of their heads, settled in villages and were engaged in
agriculture, Sima wrote.

In addition, the areas were also frequented by nomads with long
plaited hair, whose ancestors could be traced to thousands of miles
away.

Today, we must marvel at Sima's authenticity when we enter the
reproduction of an ancient hall of Dian on exhibit at the National
Museum of China (NMC) in downtown Beijing. There, one can browse
through the 179 artifacts made from bronze, jade and other materials
from Yunnan which date back to the time when Sima made his visit.

Just take a look at one bronze cowrie container with a scene of
battle on the lid dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD
24) and examine the victorious general on horseback in the centre.
The victor is depicted with his hair in a topknot and the defeated
enemy chief who'd fallen off from his horse, his helmet on the
ground to reveal his long plaited hair.

"We couldn't help being amazed at the accuracy of Sima Qian's
accounts and at the handicrafts of the ancient sculptors," said Yi
Xuezhong, a research fellow with the Yunnan Provincial Museum, which
has curated the current Exhibition of the Relics of the Ancient
Kingdom of Dian in co-operation with the national museum.

Opened on January 14 and continuing through March 25, the exhibits -
the cream of the countless artifacts brought to light over the past
40-some years - offered "a relatively comprehensive picture of the
ancient Kingdom of Dian more than 2,000 years ago," said NMC
President Pan Zhenzhou during the opening ceremony.

Heyday of Bronze Age

Throughout the four decades of studies, archaeologists have located
numerous ancient Dian settlements and cemeteries that are spread
over 70 counties and cities in Yunnan.

It was an ancient culture with its heyday in the fascinating Bronze
Age.

In terms of world history, the Bronze Age is considered one of the
most important eras that witnessed great transformations.

Along with the use of bronze for tools and weapons, specialized
craftsmanship appeared, exchange and trade increased, and social
stratification and political organization grew. It was during the
Bronze Age the first writing in Europe appeared, thus giving birth
to European recorded history.

In Yunnan, among the unearthed relic pieces from the ancient sites
of the Kingdom of Dian, there has been a high concentration of
bronze ware, numbering more than 10,000 pieces.

The bronze sculptures feature vivid scenes of local farming,
hunting, weaving and dancing and the spectacles of ritual ceremonies
and battles. They have been found on the lids of cowrie containers,
the covers of the bronze drums and other decorative wares and
models.

Although no indigenous pictographs or writings have been found among
the Dian ruins so far, the bronze ware, which falls into 90-odd
categories ranging from agricultural tools to weapons, offers
telltale links to the ancient kingdom.

It was a kingdom that had extensive connections with various areas
in today's Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia.

Among the numerous bronze figures, there are not only the local Dian
people sporting topknots or the nomads with long plaits, but some
also depict elderly men with long beards and robes hanging down to
their feet.

A number of dancers with deeply set eyes and exaggerated noses wore
long-sleeved blouses and long pants, a sharp contrast to the local
Dian people who only wore tunics and shorts. They must have come
from the prairies farther west of Yunnan, from non-sub-tropical
areas, Yi said.

According to Yi, the area's exchanges with Central China could have
started during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), which had entered
the Bronze Age a few centuries before the earlier people in the Dian
communities started to make use of bronze.

The findings have been provided by scholars of metallurgical
history, who have analyzed ritual bronze ware unearthed in Yinxu
Ruins of the late Shang period in what is now Anyang, Central
China's Henan Province. The researchers believe the ore must have
come from Yunnan.

In the historic annals of the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD
220) dynasties, Yunnan was frequently referred to as one of the
major ore suppliers for bronze-making in Central China.

On the lid of a cowrie bronze container was the sculpting of a
panorama of local rituals involving 129 participants.

Yi said he believed the scenes correspond to the documented rituals
in the ancient annals of pre-Qin and Han dynasty periods - offering
evidence of further exchanges between Dian's communities and those
in Central China.

In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), Yunnan was already
considered one of "frontier" areas for imperial expansion.

In 1955, researchers discovered an ancient cemetery for royalty and
aristocrats from Shizhaishan in Jinning County, no more than 50
kilometres south of Kunming, Yunnan's provincial capital.

From the No 6 tomb there, they uncovered a golden seal bearing the
four Chinese characters carved in official Han court scripts: Dian
Wang Zhi Yin, meaning the Seal of the Dian King.

Along with the golden seal were other objects reserved for the
royals of the Han court, which included a scattered number of jade
pieces, a set of chime bells and even a bronze model of an
ancestor's temple.

"All these reflect the fact that the King of the Dian and the hosts
of the funeral attached great importance to having the great Han
emperor confer upon them the royal titles, and how they followed the
Han Dynasty's funeral customs and rules," Yi said.

According to Yi, bronze-making in the ancient Dian area reached its
height during the 1st century BC, then started to decline soon
thereafter.

Meanwhile, as NMC Vice-President Dong Qi wrote in the preface of the
exhibition, the Dian culture began to lose its grip on the locale
during the first few decades of the 1st century AD.

The Kingdom of Dian finally disappeared altogether in the 2nd
century AD, as the locale became integrated into the Eastern Han
Dynasty (AD 25-220).

Origins

Despite the discovery of a huge number of relics from the ancient
Kingdom of Dian, researchers still find it hard to pinpoint the
origins of the Dian people.

Over the years, researchers have put forward a number of
speculations.

For instance, the Dian people were predominantly aboriginal, or were
descendants of the Chu and Pu people who once lived in areas of what
are today's Hunan and Hubei provinces. Some are also believed to
have descended from the Yue people from areas of what is now Guangxi
and Guangdong in South China, while there is speculation that
nomadic tribal people from the grasslands in the north also lived in
the area.

Yang Fan, a researcher from the Yunnan Provincial Cultural Relics
and Archaeology Institute, suggests that Dian people came from
multiple ancestries, judging from the funeral customs shown from the
unearthed tombs dating back to different historical periods.

One ancestral group might have been the ancient Qiang people, who
migrated from areas of what is now Gansu and Qinghai provinces in
Northwest China south to Yunnan.

The relics from the late New Stone Age through the middle of the
Shang period more than 3,000 years ago, which have been unearthed in
the northwestern part of Yunnan, show great similarities to those
unearthed in western parts of Sichuan Province and southern parts of
what are today's Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

The burial customs were especially similar, Yang said, featuring
such rituals as decapitation.

But the tombs dating back to the middle of the Spring and Autumn
periods (770-476 BC) found in Yunnan displayed a funeral system
popular in the areas to the farther north end of Yunnan which was
then under the rule of the Chu state. The Chu reign predominantly
controlled territories in what are today's Hunan and Hubei
provinces.

Yang said that during the wars the Qinshihuang waged to unify China
and establish the Qin empire, the local Dian people living in parts
of what is now Shaanxi and Gansu provinces also had to migrate down
to Yunnan in the south.

Apart from these migrations from the north and west, Yang pointed
out there must have been aboriginal ethnic groups who had extensive
links with their cousins in South and Southeast Asia, as many of
today's ethnic groups still speak the tongues that have their
historical links to those areas.

Wherever the Dian people came from, they in turn created a splendid
local culture which flourished for several centuries, as the 179
relics in the exhibition demonstrate.

So much so that the Dian King once proudly asked Sima Qian: "Who is
more powerful, the Han Emperor, or me?"


http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2004-01/...301332.htm

I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website


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