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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Nov, 2010 10:50 am    Post subject: An interesting storta ca.1490         Reply with quote

Total length - 75 cm.
Blade - 60 cm.

The pommel shape is interesting, I don't remember seeing a pommel like that on similar swords.

Your thoughts and impressions would be appreciated.



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Last edited by Dmitry Z~G on Tue 16 Nov, 2010 1:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Nov, 2010 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the images, I would be very surprised if this was a genuine antique.

The whole object has an "as forged" look. You often see this on some modern souvenir swords that are left black from the forge (black oxide, hammer marks and all) to look something like excavated originals. This one has been further patinated, but the form is very typical for these made-to-look-like-historical-weapons artifacts.

We can also look at details like the pommel form that is a bit early in style for this type of weapon, should it have been authentic. The guard is riveted in place in a heavy handed fashion: an unusual detail for these hilts, and when this is found, it is not as clumsily made as on this example.
The proportions of the weapon: the guard with its exaggerated size, the small pommel (not necessarily too small for balance, but way too small to allow a grip of a size that is suggested by the rivet holes, to be mounted in any reasonable way ), the strangely vague shape of the blade, the massive tang with its heavily punched holes, makes it look very much like a fake.
Something that further strengthens the impression of modern make, is the size of grip and guard. Many contemporary bell guards and D-shaped guards are much too big when compared to historical originals. Like these modern swords it seems to follow the notion that "it has to fit my big mitts". Originals are as a rule much tighter and leaner. The arms of the guard on this one spreads very wide in a way that is not convincing.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Nov, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks Chinese. It's a Chinese-style pommel, Chinese-style guard. A rivetted-on guard like this can be seen on various Chinese swords.

From the pictures, I'd call it some kind of dadao, perhaps southern Chinese, perhaps early 20th century (assuming not a fake). The classic dadao has a ring pommel, and I don't recall seeing a dadao with this type of pommel. This pommel type seems to have been most common on sword-breakers, truncheons, etc., but it's been used on jian and dao as well. A nice jian with both pommel and guard in this octagonal style is shown in Alex Huangfu's Iron and Steel Swords of China.

As Peter notes, it isn't exactly fine craftsmanship, but it does fall within the spectrum of what can be seen in non-fine Chinese weapons as used by, e.g., local militias.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Nov, 2010 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo, this is very interesting. This sword was on ebay a couple of months ago, and I managed to snag the photos before it was gone. The seller described it as Chinese!! However, I thought that the ebay seller was wrong.. My first reaction was that it wasn't Chinese. I have seen similar blades on Venetian/Italian stortas.The hilt style also tied into the storta stylistic.
Unfortunately my Chinese weapon references are pretty much non-existent. Would it be possible to see photos from the book you've mentioned.?
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Nov, 2010 2:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There isn't anything very close to the one you showed in the book. There are many examples of S-guards, some examples of riveted guards, and a few dao blades similar in shape, and one jian with a pommel of this type.

Easy enough to find examples online too. Some good examples at http://www.chinesearms.com/ (and see the bottom of the site for some sample pages from Iron and Steel Swords of China. See the last sample page for a Republican S-guard dadao that I'd consider a pretty normal S-guard dadao, with the usual ring pommel (I don't think that the rattan wrap on the grip is usual - cloth or cord seems more common).

On this page, you can see a "swordbreaker" with this type of polyhedral pommel ("swordbreaker" is the most common English name, but it's basically an iron truncheon). This is a very common pommel on late Qing and Republican truncheons, maces, etc. See also the maces. There are also a couple of examples of riveted guards: http://www.chinesearms.com/armorbreaker/armorbreaker.htm and http://www.chinesearms.com/chinesearms/001/ot...bishou.htm .

Blades with scalloped tips like this aren't that common. However, see Fig 1-26 in Yun Zhang's
The Complete Taiji Dao for an example of this type. The google books preview has the whole 1st chapter, the historical and typological overview of dao, so it's an excellent resource. (And a good book on the use of the dao, too.) See also the top dao in Fig 1-46 for a riveted guard (not S-shaped). The top dao and the 2nd dao from the bottom in Fig 1-61 also have riveted guards, the top one a S-guard. (This is hard to see in Zhang, even in the printed book, but the same figure is in colour and clearer in Iron and Steel Swords of China.)

I don't see the blade as distinctively Chinese, although it's certainly plausible as Chinese - it's the pommel, S-guard, and the guard rivet that make it look very Chinese.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2010 6:01 am    Post subject: Similar Example         Reply with quote

Here is a similar example though with the ring pommel.
Paul's Antiques

Craig
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2010 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Similar Example         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Here is a similar example though with the ring pommel.
Paul's Antiques


I never quite know what to make of the claimed dates, c. 1600 in this case, c. 1700 for the original thread-starting sword. One can see similar swords in photographs. It's true that these aren't the most common type of military dadao from the 1920s and 1930s, but one sees them in, e.g., Boxer Rebellion photos (and they get sold as Boxer-era dadao as well). So when I see a claim of substantially earlier dates, with nothing given to support such a date, I am skeptical. Something for the potential customer to ask the dealer about, if the potential customer cares about the age.

My ignorance of dating of Chinese swords isn't helped by most of my sources being Chinese. (OK, there is a "simple" solution to the problem of not being to read Chinese ...)

So it's tempting to be very conservative with dating these things. But this can lead to overconservativeness, and the "disappearance" of genuinely old specimens. Just because most specimens around are mid-late 19th century doesn't mean that there aren't any 15th-18th century ones surviving. Similar problem with Indo-Persian and Indian arms. From art, similar weapons were in use from the 16th through the 19th centuries - surely not all of the survivors date to the Mutiny.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2010 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for you valuable input in classifying this sword. What had originally thrown me off, was the shape of the blade, with the bulges on the back of the foible end of it.


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The stortas.
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Sun 05 Dec, 2010 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From HENRY VIII: ARMS AND THE MAN

This sword is classified as poss.Flemish ca.1500. Note the similarity in the hilt construction.



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