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Ancient Chinese weapons pictures; Shang to Han


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#1 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 03:25 AM

Southern tribal weapons.
Possibly 'Ba' or Dian culture ge-halberds . Eastern Zhou period. The upper one is very similar to a Dian culture ge shown in 'Weapons in Ancient China' even down to the detail on the tang.

This style of dagger axe is similar to a Chinese archaic form, more in appearance like the Shang (17th-12th centuries BC) or the Western Zhou 'ge' or 'ko', yet in border areas like Sichuan & Yunnan the shape persisted as late as the 8th-3rd centuries BC.
Like the Shang & West Zhou blades it has a possible connection to the stone battleaxes of the neolithic period and still these pieces cannot be accused of being crude or backward when the fine detaill on them testifies to the skill of regional bronze smiths.
See ba culture ge from Richard Nable's collection
http://www.youngmuse..._collection.htm

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Details on tang, tribal weapons are typically quite decorative compared to weapon produced en-mass for fuedal state armouries in Zhou 'China' of this period.
The weapons of ancient tribal peoples in the modern provinces of Yunnan & Sichuan in particular illustrate the individual & more personalised nature of warriors in tribal societies.

As noted in the thread on Dian culture swords the tribal-periphral 'non-Chinese' peoples had a sense of personal identity in weapons not seen in the mass produced weapons outfitting Zhou fuedal armies. In the Central Kingdom decorated weapons were a feature of rank and status and an exception to the rule whereas in tribal groups certain motifs are almost standard features, i.e cloud motifs on Dian axes.

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Large 'tribal' halberd/ge

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Anthromorphic figure. (man-animal)

Half man & half beast creatures can be seen on bronze vessels and even decorating coffins in the East Zhou. In some cases the creatures are interpreted as gaurdians for the deceased. Given the shamanistic nature of religions outside the Zhong-guo 'Zhou' cultural area the meaning of this odd human-like figure cannot be said for certain.

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Liaoning province style sword.
This is a 'non-Chinese' type which disapears from the region after expansion by the state of Yan. After this time 'Chinese' style halberds are found in graves, and this is similar to the decline and eventual extinction of local cultural weapon types in the south which were later replaced by Han dynasty style weapons.

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http://www.koreainfo...itle=Prehistory

''Although the origin of the Korean bronze age culture may be traced back to the Liaoning bronze dagger culture, the Korean bronze dagger culture has its own unique features, as demonstrated by the typology and styles of Korean bronze ritual objects, which differ from the Liaoning bronze dagger culture.

.....The Bronze Age in Korea may be divided into the earlier Liaoning bronze dagger culture and the later Korean bronze dagger culture.
The Liaoning bronze dagger culture first appeared in the Liaoning area of the north-eastern China in the beginning of the 10th century B.C. This bronze culture is famous for its unique bronze daggers. The Liaoning culture spread into the northwestern and mid-western areas of Korea from the Liaotung Peninsular through the coastal routes of the Yellow Sea and from there it spread into all of Korea.
Sites of the Liaoning bronze dagger culture typically contain bronze daggers, socketed spearheads, arrowheads, fanshaped axes, chisels and knives, curved jades, tubularjades and round jades, polished stone daggers and arrowheads, etc.
.....Around the 3rd century B.C. Iron culture was introduced to the Korean Peninsular through cultural contacts with the northeastern area of China. The appearance of this culture coincided with the diffusion of knife-shaped currency issued by the state of 'Yon' {i.e Yan state} (Youn; 323 B.C.-222 B.C.), one of the seven Chinese waning states. Iron culture was widespread in southern Korea by about the Ist century B.C.In the early stages of the Iron Age, Chinese iron objects predominated, but iron objects soon began to be manufactured in the Korean Peninsular by the influence of new technology. ''



http://www.blinkbits..._dagger_culture


''The Liaoning bronze dagger culture is an archeological complex of the late Bronze Age in Northeast Asia. Artifacts from the culture are found primarily in the Liaoning area of Manchuria and in the Korean peninsula. Various other bronze artifacts, including ornaments and weapons, are associated with the culture, but the daggers are viewed as the most characteristic.

Lee (1996) considers that the culture is properly divided into five phases: Phases I and II typified by violin-shaped daggers, Phases IV and V by slender daggers, and Phase III by the transition between the two. Of these, remains from Phases I, II and III can be found in some amounts in both the Korean peninsula and Manchuria, but remains from Phases IV and V are found almost exclusively in Korea.

The early phase consists of an early period of bronze manufacture without daggers, followed by a period of producing violin-shaped daggers. The prime period of production of violin-shaped daggers is dated to the 8th and 7th centuries BCE.

The earliest artifacts from this period are found exclusively in Manchuria, and seem only gradually to have spread to the Korean peninsula. By Lee's (1996) Phase II, however, a distinctive notched form of dagger begins to emerge in southern Korea, suggesting that by this time independent bronze production had begun in that region.

Evidence gained from pottery indicates that the bronze dagger "culture" of this time actually included several distinct cultural groups. One distinct pottery tradition is found in Manchuria and northwestern Korea, another in the Taedong River valley, another in the southwest around the Chungcheong provinces including the Geum River, and yet another throughout the rest of the southern Korean peninsula including Jeju island.
Slender daggers
This later part of the Liaoning is often referred to as the "Korean bronze dagger culture," since it was largely restricted to the Korean peninsula. [1] At this point the Liaoning culture artifacts begin to disappear from the Manchurian area. A new form of dagger begins to turn up on the Korean peninsula, straight and slender.

The greatest concentration of bronze daggers is found in the Geum River valley of South Chungcheong province. Away from this area, the daggers become progressively fewer. This appears to indicate that most daggers were produced in the Geum valley, and the other cultures of the peninsula acquired them primarily by trade. Trade also took place by sea, with artifacts from the Later Phase found in Japanese archeological sites as well.

Lee (1996) divides this phase into two distinct sections: one dating to the 3rd century BCE in which the production of slender bronze daggers predominated, and one dating to the 2nd century BCE in which daggers are often accompanied by bronze mirrors with geometric designs and halberds influenced by the Chinese Qin state . In the first part, a single pottery culture typified by clay-band applique is found throughout the Korean peninsula, but in the second part distinctive pottery types emerge in the northwest and the remainder of the peninsula.

The disappearance of the Liaoning culture from Manchuria appears to coincide with the State of Yan's conquest of that area. Yan brought an Iron Age culture to the region, including its own knife-shaped iron currency, which is also found at scattered locations on the Korean peninsula.''



These weapons are made of two pieces . Hilts are heavy and have in-cast details , binding on blades tang can almost be seen.

It is also possible these 2 parts are not even of the same sword.

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Variations of the swords as elaborated on in the extracts above;
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Edited by Kenneth, 10 July 2007 - 04:50 PM.

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#2 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 03:35 AM

Warring States era spears,
some of these here were decorated. The appearance is otherwise quite 'typical' for this periods spears. One has silver-like spots on the blade (far right) while another had branch-like cast designs at the base of the blade (far left) the second from right has a symbol cast on to the socket but unfortunately I expected the picture to be clearer and I only viewed them briefly.
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Decorated spears. Sichuan or Yunnan (Ba/Dian cultures) 8th-3rd centuries BC. Border peoples weapons are visually distinct to the Chinese of the central plains. While present politics includes an expanded modern concept of a Chinese nation at this time there were many diverse groups, whom later are defeated or assimilated.
These very long spears are similar to an example displayed in the Taipei NPM which I had seen the day before.
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Loops. non-functional.
These loops are a feature on much earlier Shang culture spears. As noted by Jessica Rawson many archiac features on weapons persist in the areas outside the then 'central plains' China. This is not the only time I have seen these loops cast solid, as the late John Piscopo had a similar spear in this type.
It may be the loops after many centuries were retained by these tribal cultures for decoration but were no longer functional for lashing, and hence cast solid on occasion.
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Broad spear. The widening of the blade on this spear is quite different to the more typical appearance of Warring States spears like the 4 shown earlier.
The original golden lustre of the bronze can still be seen, as well a mass of probable cerrusite patina near the base.
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Binding in socket. Plant fibre, cording, wrapped around the wooden pole to help secure this spear socket can be seen here. This is similar to the looks of the binding in a socket in Tony Allen's book; "Allens Authentication of Ancient Chinese bronze". If the material was removed there may be the end of the wooden pole still inside this spear.
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Combination weapons;
Multiple weapons attached to a single polearm are more common in the late East Zhou (8th to 3rd century BC) period than earlier or later periods. For combination weapons to be cast as single piece items, i.e a true combination weapon, instead of multiple mountings of different tools, are rarer still.

A halberd from a seperate spear and dagger axe combined (then called a 'ji') likely existed even in the Shang 17th-12 century BC) yet in the Western Zhou period some true one piece castings of this style exist.

More commonly it is a ge (dagger axe) with a spear blade cast attached, i.e 'ji' but rarer examples of socketed spears with a ge blade cast atached to a socket also occur.

By the Warring States period many varieties were created, mostly 2 or 3 piece combinations of seperate items. Multiple mounted ge blades on one pole, serated blades, extra rear hooks large and small, spears & ge (ji halberds), sharpened tangs making extra blades, etc.

These 2 pieces are unusual examples being both atypical forms and cast as single pieces.

Spear .
Some features of this, such as the broad blade and (crude) loops give this an earlier style appearance and so dating this one is difficult. The hook is a little like a fishermans gaff and looks suitable for snagging an enemy.

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Polearm mounted halberd .
This dagger axe is in a Spring & Autumn or Warring States style (8th-3rd century BC). The addition of a like sickle-like blade on the rear tang is the stand-out feature.

For use from or against chariots this extra blade, instead of cutting or piercing in the style of the normal ge blade, could be used to trap a limp or incapacitate.

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The sharp inner edge of this large hook is intended for cutting during a pull.

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Edited by Kenneth, 02 June 2007 - 04:00 AM.

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#3 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 03:49 AM

Hi Bayou,
I really liked that hooking ge in particular. It did look nasty to be used on a limb or neck.
I cannot say precisely where it came from, it is Eastern Zhou and apart from the rear it is unremarkable and quite typical for a dagger-axe used by the ancient fuedal states armies.
One reason it may have never became popular is the shape is not versatile even if it is intimidating and unusual. The addition would only be useful in one action, to trap and cut and enemy with a pull...yet it is not as useful that the usual straight upturned point mounted at 100' from the pole. The normal point can pierce and drag and cut so gets 2 actions instead of 1.
There are other hooks and barbs and serations on strange dagger axes, but not quite so unbalanced looking as this.
There was one 'ge' sent to me in a picture from Zhengzhou which had a rear hook about ¼ the size and looked more nimble.
This larger type of hook could almost mean the weapon would get tied up on the enemy if tangled on a limb and not extracted and so smaller cutting hooks seem to have been more common than something quite imposing but potentially awkward like this.

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Possible arcuballista point.
While socketed like a spear, and with a comparible pole diameter, the swallow tail barbs are quite unlike any spear I have seen. This weapon could not be extracted from the body and so would be a weapon that would be lost after a killing strike. The point is quite like arrows of the type used as standard untill the Eastern Zhou period, when triangular cross sections became more common.
I have wondered whether this might be a point from a giant siege crossbow or bed crossbow. Some of these could be arrows in the region of 10 feet long according to a Warring States period text, the Mozi. Bronze tips from arrows once 1.8m long have been found in Shaanxi, looking like an upscaled crossbow bolt. While in 2004 I was told this was from a 'lance' for killing horses, in 2007 the same owner considered it from a crossbow. Previously he had not believed in ballista-like weapons in ancient China a few years ago yet must have revised his opinion over the last few years (as have I, on many points).
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Untranslated character . Mr. Lin has translated some ancient Characters on Zhou & Han bronzes yet does not recognise this. Given that many regional characters must have existed before the imposing of uniformity under Qin ShiHuang there may not be a direct modern Chinese version of some symbols.
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Decorated ge, with openwork pattern on the tang. Spring & Autumn or Warring States period.
A fairly typical looking dagger axe ‘ge’ but with the extra embellishements that a ranking persons weapons might have.
An upturned angle of the blade (normally at 100 degrees), and its extension down the pole, were both improvements on the earlier ‘ko’ style halberds of the Shang and used by the Western Zhou. This type of dagger-axe became the most widely used from the 8th-3rd centuries BC with a few extra modifications in the last period of its use.
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Detail on the tang
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Edited by Kenneth, 05 July 2007 - 04:59 PM.

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#4 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 04:26 AM

Very early dagger-axe 'ko'. Shang dynasty/perhaps Western Zhou. This is quite a crude weapon compared to the form of later East Zhou halberds & has a connection directly to the stone age. This bronze is likely to be in the region of 3,500-3,000 years old. This is much earlier in form than earlier than other ge-halberds on this thread.
Early stone battle axes (or jade ritual/rank axes) have a circular hole through the centre of the axe. The same archaic feature is suggested in this circle here.

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The neolithic 'battle axe' below shows how such weapons are the ancestor of cast bronze weapons , like these early 'dagger-axes'. This circle or hole through the blade would likely be connected to the earlier era, it occurs only on the triangular type of dagger-axe and persists longer in tribal groups .

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Shang (or possibly later 'northern' minority) ge.
Shang dynasty halberds can have small details, symbols added to the tang or 'nei'.
Some similar weapons are attributed to steppes people in the north of China as late as Eastern Zhou. Similar dagger axes with horses, or crude animal forms, are identified as such in 'Ancient Chinese Weapons; A collection of pictures'.
The form itself is very ancient, although the socketed method of attachment in the Shang period was perhaps influenced by steppes people and in this way explain its persistence on the steppe after Chinese weapon evolved into lashing type halberds.

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human figure on tang/nei. This was called a 'tribal symbol' by Mr. Lin and depictions like this are more fitting on tribal peoples. The rather nievely depicted human here does bear a resemblance to the despiction of animals on other examples from northern non-Chinese peoples.
This is quite unusual either way as the Shang seldom represent people in bronze and the steppes cultures tended to favour animal motifs or predator/prey scenes.

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Edited by Kenneth, 28 June 2007 - 05:09 PM.

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#5 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 04:36 AM

Inlaid marking on archaic style ge
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This style of dagger axe is a very early & rather undeveloped type (without the blade extending down the pole, and only one hole for binding) Regional varieties can have such early forms like this persist while the weapons in central Zhou fuedal states took on a series of refinements for greater effectiveness.
The markings here Mr. Lin said related to a tribal symbol. I had not seen this sort of surface marking, which was another type of alloy to the item itself (cleaned to reveal the distinct symbol). When I remarked on how odd it was I was shown a near identical example in a reference book. If this is from a border area, and a 'non-Chinese' culture maintaining an archaic obsolete appearance it could be Eastern Zhou. I didn't think to check the dating in the reference book unfortunately as I could have gotten it translated at the time. The form, in general, could be Western Zhou, 12th-8th century BC but either way the inlaid symbol is the notable feature.

Socketed axes. One has a net-like decoration, another a zig-zag or triangular band, the spade shouldered type is discussed below.
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enormous spade shouldered axe . Sichaun province 'Ba' culture.
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http://www.youngmuse..._collection.htm

Shouldered, socketed, round axe from Sichuan provence probably dating as far back as the Western Zhou period (1100-771 BC). This type seems to be particular to that general region and time period. While axes of this type may range in length from 7 cm to 20 cm, this particular axe is 15.8 cm. The socket is slightly ovoid with internal dimensions of 3.7 cm by 3.2 cm. The width at the "shoulders" is 6 cm. Though this type of axe is not exceptionally rare, none so far have been found with their handles intact so the precise use to which the axe was put is still a mystery.
See Robert Bagley, " Ancient Sichuan - Treasures From a Lost Civilization" p.243


Edited by Kenneth, 05 July 2007 - 05:01 PM.

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#6 naruwan

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 04:39 AM

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My guess is it said 雲矢 arrow of clouds or 雨矢 rain of arrows.

any one can confirm what it says?
mudanin kata mudanin kata. kata siki-a kata siki-a. muhaiv ludun muhaiv ludun. kanta sipal tas-tas kanta sipal tas-tas. kanta sipal tunuh kanta sipal tunuh. sikavilun vini daingaz sikavilun vini daingaz.

Former hansioux

#7 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 04:48 AM

Mystery items; non-weapons
large pheonix fixture.
What this attached to can not be said for certain. In the house on furniture, or part of a battle standard?
It has 2 extensions at the base to slot into or fit over another object.

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Officers baton?
This obviously fits into the hand and this explanation seems right. Think of an officers or Sargeant Majors baton in the modern army.
When giving orders this would be just the thing to point in the direction that minions are to be directed.
The ring at the bottom is similar to the base of a nobles sword I showed on the East Zhou bronze swords thread. This is likely for a tassel, and was seen on one ancient sword which such a ring.

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horned dragon ...isn't he beautiful?
Quite a character.
By the late East Zhou & Han period the 'classic' Chinese dragon combining the attributes of many animals has taken shape.
While jade forms in the neolothic are sometimes called 'dragons' I find this more psycholgical than likely really a continuity.
One late Shang design seems to show a 'dragon' on a vessel much like a taotie face with a coiled body and surrounded by water creatures, like fish.
It is not untill later still that a real clear 'dragon' appears as would be recognisable to anyone on the street, and these bronze items (and dragon, sometimes with horns, often shown on belthooks from the 4-5th century BC onwards) would be some of the earlier.
This fellow here is still looking good after so many centuries.

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Beastial face .
This is probably a dragon too, although not quite as aesthetically pleasing IMO.
A one horned dragon is supposedly 'immature' in traditional understanding, yet another possible reason for the varied appearance is that dragons also come in many types.
"The dragon king has many sons".
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Edited by Kenneth, 05 July 2007 - 04:50 PM.

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#8 whipsandchains

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 08:29 AM

I'm sorry to bother you kenneth, but I can't see any of the pictures.

#9 Kenneth

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 07:37 PM

It may take some time for pics to appear since there are dozens. They are there though, attached by imageshack.
I haven't had troubles with this before.
If you wait for a time and check it should be fine. Otherwise PM an administrator for ideas.


Edit; imageshack has problems recently. I am reducing file sizes to avoid a choke, and browser failing.

Edited by Kenneth, 02 June 2007 - 04:07 AM.

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#10 Kenneth

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 10:35 PM

Spring & Autumn period knife
Similar knives with complex hilts have been found in Spring and Autumn period (8th-5th century BC) sites. In some cases the hilts are cast with the lost wax method and are very complex (here the detail is obscured by mineral corrosion). In the case of these knives they were declared ceremonial objects since the gold is too soft for a durable weapon.

In this case the item is cast as one, of bronze, and likely by a lost wax mold also.

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hilt detail

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...see http://www.staff.hum...E.html#Heading5 Donald B. Wagner

" A grave in Baoji Municipality, Shaanxi, dated to the late Spring and Autumn period, contains some remarkable gold-iron artefacts, including three short-swords (e.g. Figure 3), thirteen ring-headed knives, two knives with gold ring-head, glass back, and iron edge (Figure 4), and two other knives.[20] One of the short-swords has been examined by metallurgists, and was found to be of smelted rather than meteoritic iron''.[21]

This is a typical Chinese small grave, but the grave-goods are highly unusual for a Chinese grave: there are no ceramic artefacts at all, there is a great deal of gold, and there are many artefacts which are more typical of the steppe cultures. It is difficult to date, but the date given by the excavators, the sixth century BC, seems secure enough.

With iron-using nomadic cultures close by, and clear signs of cultural influence from them, it is necessary to conclude that either the iron artefacts themselves, or the technology of their fabrication, came from the steppe peoples. The ring-handled knives might in principle have been made in China or anywhere in the steppelands. The origin of this design has long been a problem for archaeologists and art historians,[22] but the best guess at the moment is that its earliest development took place in Western Siberia.[23] It was a simple and useful design, and spread quickly; it became one of the typical Shang bronze artefact types, and is also found throughout the steppelands. The short-swords, on the other hand, are more specifically Chinese; the décor of their hilts is unusual, but similar sword-hilts have been found in China proper, and apparently nothing like them has been found outside China. While the sword-blades could have been made anywhere, the hilts were surely made by Chinese craftsmen, and it is only sensible to suppose that the blades were also made locally. "


One of these 3 shortswords I saw while at Xian, as it is identical to a line drawing in the above paper.
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Edited by Kenneth, 02 June 2007 - 04:07 AM.

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#11 Kenneth

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 07:31 PM

Pyramid spear from a heavy polearm.

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While Yang Hong in 'Weapons in Ancient China' calls this weapon a 'shu' two other texts showing the same object (refering to the examples from the Eastern Zhou/Marquis of Zeng's tomb also/5th century BC IIRC) call the weapon an 'e' {unsure of how to write this in English}.
The width of the socket is very broad showing a very solid pole mounting. The original weapon seems to be a mixure of bronze tipped club with spikes, and these 'pyramid spears' go atop this as a robust stabbing point. Bronze tipped clubs on poles also exist amongst the terracotta warriors, being a lesser known type of weapon. These were also called 'shu' by Y. Hong although the appearance was not sharp & pyramidal then and were more like tubular caps with blunt right angled edges atop.
211.155.231.165:82/gate/big5/www.bmy.com.cn/index_eng.htm - 9k
"Some 30 bronze Shu weapons were unearthed in pit 3. Shu weapon in Qin Dynasty was used for ceremonial purposes and a symbol of authority. It is shaped in a cylinder with the head looks like a triangular cone. "

2nd century BC;
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The best example of the East Zhou pyramid spear is shown in these examples showing the mounting as a bashing and thrusting weapon. This explains the unusally broad socket on this item since the item was meant to be heavy.
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5th century BC and much like the version in the Taiwanese collection in the 'pyramid spear' atop the broad pole.
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Traces of feathers were imprinted on the sides of this bronze and by the orientation suggest attachment to the weapon itself below the point.
In other weapons like spears or other arms, i.e the Maori tiaha, a bunch of feathers or other tassel at a point during a flicking motion confuses the eye, breaks up the outline of the weapon in a flash of movement and hopefully gives an advantage in getting past an opponents defenses.
Traces of wood could be seen in the socket also, although not as clear in the picture.



+++++++++=====
Note; I am still editing in accompanying descriptions for earlier pictured items by adding a little at a time.

Edited by Kenneth, 02 June 2007 - 04:08 AM.

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#12 Mei Houwang

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 08:43 PM

^Boy, and I thought those wierd spears shown in "Battle of Wits" were made up, but apparently they existed.

#13 Kenneth

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 06:31 AM

Hi Anthrophobia,
The movie never came to NZ, so apart from hearing about it I am unlikely to see it. I couldn’t tell much from the few promotional pictures. Most films get a few things right. They just need a library card after all.



Shang ‘yue’ (axes).

17th-12th centuries BC.
These axes are associated with human sacrifice. While I am unsure if they were used in battle they were certainly used to decapitate prisoners.
Many example exist with grinning and leering faces, and decoration on these weapons often sets them apart from other shang weapons. This may be because of the use in ritually killing captives or slaves.
The examples here are plainer than many museum pieces, although the one on the left has taotie eyes as a decorative feature.

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colour adjusted to make the eyes clearer, two raised bumps almost in line with the central hole.
This is the Taotie, a ‘greedy spirit’ or ‘bodiless spirit’ that can be seen on almost every Shang object, such was its importance in ritual. It was theorized as an internmediary between the worlds of spirit and living although the actual meaning is lost. I have written more on the Taotie on China History Forum previously.

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Bronze vessel, the earlier ritual vessels just have the bold and disembodied eyes. The purest form, perhaps dating to Neolithic motifs.
Later Shang Taotie began to represent jaws and horns, etc, and later in the Han when the Shang religion was forgotten the taotie becomes just a decorative feature on mundane vessels.

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Yue, or axe.
The Taotie can be seen here, in inlaid turquoise. The eyes again are bold and piercing. Another axe for ritual executions.

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Human sacrifice.

Multiple victims have been found at Shang burials. Some captives were killed and buried en-mass, the skulls used for drinking.
In the case of burials like this some may be slaves, rather than immediate prisoners of war. The axes are found positioned on the ramps of tombs nearby.
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Human sacrifice, to serve the deceased & not for practicing the mysterious Sang rituals, occurred in China until it was banned in the Qin period. In the late East Zhou the practice was already being questioned and replacements made for humans in wood, later ceramics.
One of the last cases of human sacrifice was the defiant king of Nanyue (Guangdong), who defied the Han Emperor and was buried in the 2nd century BC like an Emperor, in a jade burial suit and with several attendants.
Climb over the Great Firewall.
http://www3.youtube....h?v=tzax4KkQ4ug

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#14 Kenneth

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 07:29 PM

Collection of knives (non-weapon) and daggers (weapons/double edged) Eastern Zhou to Han.

Ancient Chinese knives of the most common type have an origin to the north of China. They take the form of a sometimes ring pommelled & more typically inwards curving knife. These can be called 'Ordos' (region) 'steppes' or 'Xiongnu' (nomadic culture) knives.
(***see CHF link below)
Even from the Shang period, alongside unique Shang weapons, there is some suggestion of influence of this style of knife in decorated charioteers knives.
From the Warring States period, Qin to Han, these knives are quite common in China.
The utility of these small knives, which to be clear are mundane, like pocket knives rather than weapons, is shown by the adoption of early Chinese cash coins which are called 'knife money' and resemble the Ordos knives clearly. Even today in observing nomadic peoples like the steppes Altai the use of small curved knives to cut meat, or cut felt, can be seen.
As a unit for barter, and a valued object for exchange, they are represented in early Chinese money before the standardisation of Qin currency. The knife money is thin and non-funtional but reflects the value of a real unit of barter. This is representational only just like 'spade' cash which is in the shape of the full sized ancient Chinese spade.
These knives here are the real items (not money) and some are more clearly Chinese.
In the tomb area of Qin ShiHuang in recent years a pit of terracotta scholars have been found, much like the buried army but unarmed.
These scholars have bamboo slips tied to their belts and the ring pommel knives tied in the same fashion.
In the ancient version of a correction pen these knives could be used to scrape the bamboo clear if corrections needed to be made.

A very similar style of knife to the Qin scholars can be seen here http://www.chinahist...?showtopic=7440 in post #5 which is Han in dating IMO.
***True Xiongnu knives (Ordos style) which presumably led to such Chinese knives can be seen in post #8 They are rather small in comparison to this 'Han' knife.

2 knives that are actual weapons are the double edged daggers in this same set (# 1 & 4). These are possibly from the region of Inner Mongolia.
Of the 2 culturally non-Chinese types of weapons Yang Hong outlines in the north of China one is the 'Tungus' (which here was shown on left earlier in the line drawing with the Liaoning & Korean dagger style swords) and the other is 'Hun'.
The Tungus style swords seem to be the precursors to the 'Liaoning' or mandolin culture swords, but have a simple "pillow shaped"pommel of stone instead of the bronze hilt. The blade is much the same.
The weapons Yang Hong calls 'Hun' (certainly the English 'Eastern Hun' or Chinese Xiongnu) are comparible to the double edged daggers shown here.
2 examples in 'Weapons in Ancient China' are from the late Spring & Autumn and late Warring States period. They have more embellishment than the central plains daggers/short swords and have a 'winged' flat pommel instead of the almost universal disc-like or flared trumpet look of Chinese sword pommels.
These swords do support the idea of steppes cultures having much in common in material culture as they loosely resemble the form of other nomads double edged short swords and daggers in the ancient period. See Osprey "Mounted Archers of the Steppe" Tagar culture dagger, Southern Siberia, page 29.

Left to right; 1-11 my impressions of the knives.
1; possible 'Hun' (Xiongnu)
2 & 3; Late Warring States/Han
4; possible 'Hun' (Xiongnu)
5 Warring States period
6; Han
7; Warring States period
8; Xiongnu/Ordos
9; Xiongnu/Ordos
10 & 11 Warring States period

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Shang dynasty blade. A heavier style of knife. There is a casting flaw on the pommel.
The early Shang pictographical character 'dao' carries down from such rather crude beginings as cleaver like knives (whose use died out) and was later applied to straight single edged sabres in Han, and then the curved form of dao/sabre
which come from the later Chinse dynasties. True sabres in our 'modern' understanding are apparently a Turkic/Central Asian development and spread both East & West after the 8th century AD.
The Shang 'dao' can only speculatively be compared with later weapons because of the origin of the character. The 'dao' cleaver-like knife was not used in the West Zhou and true single edged sabres only come into use with the Han dynasty. I consider the so-called Qin 'Wu hook' as something of an oddity but not connected to either, being a dead end weapon.
While this knife here is not the clearest example of the Shang cleaver-like knife style its heavy construction and slight upturn at the tip connects it to this original tradition.
The connection of form to a more decorative Shang 'dao' can be seen on http://www.geocities...ycgf/museum.htm

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Climb over the Great Firewall.
http://www3.youtube....h?v=tzax4KkQ4ug

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#15 Boleslaw I

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 10:13 PM

The best example of the East Zhou pyramid spear is shown in these examples showing the mounting as a bashing and thrusting weapon. This explains the unusally broad socket on this item since the item was meant to be heavy.


Oh MY GOD, I bet with other forumers in Historum that this weapon is imaginative from the movie, if not I would be banned 1 week. :cry^:
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