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A rare turquoise-inlaid bronze sword

A rare turquoise-inlaid bronze sword
A rare turquoise-inlaid bronze sword

Late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States period

Length: 22 7/8 in, 58.1 cm

The long blade has a median ridge to both surfaces and sharp bevelled edges. The sword guard is decorated on both sides with a taotie mask, inlaid with turquoise. Two raised rings on the hilt are also inlaid with turquoise. The hilt is wrapped with cord, with finer filament below the concave circular pommel. The metal bears an olive-green patina with malachite and azurite encrustation.

Formerly in an Asian private collection. Purchased from Messrs Eskenazi, London, 1991. Previously in the collection of Dr Max Loehr.

Illustrated: Li, The Glorious Traditions of Chinese Bronzes: From the Anthony & Susan Hardy Collections and the Sze Yuan Tang, no. 42, pp. 116–17.

For similar examples bearing remains of cord, see Bronze Ritual Vessels and Musical Instruments: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, no. 174, p. 280; Loehr, Chinese Bronze Age Weapons: The Werner Jannings Collections in the National Palace Museum, no. 97, pl. XXXVIII, and note the detail pl. XL; Watson, Handbook to the Collections of Early Chinese Antiquities, fig. 17, p. 60, line drawings of similar hilts; and Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji, Vol. 11, nos. 101–04, pp. 96–7, a sword and its scabbard in the collection of the Zhejiang Museum.

Note also Shanghai Bowuguan Cang Qingtongqi, pl. 92, in the collection of the Shanghai Museum; White, Tombs of Old Lo-yang, no. 164a, pl. LXVIII; and Yu and Du, Exhibition of Chinese History, no. 3-7-8, in the collection of the National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing.