Jian is a double bladed Chinese sword, which is also known as Tai Chi. The forging of the Jian began from iron during the rule of the Han Dynasty. During the rule of the Three Kingdoms, the forging of the sword was from steel. This sword was part of every soldier’s battle armour until the rule of the Jin Dynasty, Dao, another type of sword became popular. The Dao came about because the Jian was difficult to handle, as it was a double bladed sword, this was compared to a single bladed sword. Jian was labelled as the “gentleman’s weapon” since it had an ability of uplifting the eminence of its possessor It involved a complex study that one required in order to learn how to handle and use the weapon properly. In addition, its refinement and sophistications were also contributing factors to its value in the Chinese society. The Jian was usually owned by the class of the learned in the society who had a great interest in swordsmanship as their way of looking for the inner combatant and acquiring a connection with the studies and lessons of the sword.
Throughout the existence of the Jian, it is known to have been seen in different duplications and styles for more than two thousand years in China. These numerous versions of the swords varied in lengths of about 17 to 31 inches. The weights of these swords also varied between 1to 2 pounds. In addition, there were other two versions of the sword that were larger than the average size of the Jian. These large versions were used in a variety of Chinese martial arts.
The sword has a solid appearance. The sword’s hand guard is made of efficiently finished wood, which is enfolded with black chord that equals its handle. The sword’s mouth is designed such that it perfectly fits in the V shaped hand guard. The middle wrap displays brass, at the bottom is a scabbard, which has an attractive chape. When fitted into the scabbard, the sword is very attractive and appears to have a sleek look.
The sword’s hilt has a small hand guard that adorns the scabbard with the same traditionally themed look and it keeps the chape and the sword in a nice and tight position to ensure that no wobbles, jangles or looseness of the sword. The sword’s handle, which is made of wood, is wound using a black cord that is wrapped from its guard. The black cord runs down the sword and it doubles back on itself. The cord looks like a criss-cross decoration on the upper part of its hilt. Another outstanding feature of this sword’s hilt is a bamboo peg that is driven into the hilt to ensure efficient structural strength to the sword.
The sword has a pommel that looks like other brass fittings. The pommel performs the function of providing the necessary equalizer to the blade. The pommel has a flattened surface, which permits a second hand to stab the target individual during a confrontation in the thrust.
The blade has three sections characterized by their differences in length. These differences arise from their offensive and protective purposes. The tip of this sword, Jianfeng, which comprises the first four inches of the cutting edge, serves the purpose of stabbing or in making quick cuts. This section is often curved. The blade also has a middle section, zhongren, which serves a multiplicity of distasteful and protective roles. The last part of the sharp edge is Jiangen, which serves the defensive purpose due to its closeness to the guard. Typically, the sword’s blade has a characteristic of a refined tapering of its viscosity and width. This is because the base of the blade is twice the width of the cutting edge at the tip. The blade from the base to the tip grows progressively thinner and is always sharper at the tip compared to other parts of its blade.
Jian and the Chinese Culture
For the Chinese a swords, especially the Jian, was not only meant as a weapon in times of war, it was also embedded with numerous cultural connotations. The Jian had two primary and other numerous secondary purposes. Jian served as a tool for calisthenics. This was an attribute found in those who engaged in martial arts. In China, martial arts were essential for both the health and strength for its participants. Through thorough practices on how best to handle the Jian, participants became familiar with the sword. In addition, these participants were also able to build sufficient energy within their bodies to develop the necessary power in times of battle. Constant practice with the Jian also cured some diseases.
Martial arts in China did not only engage participants in the aspect of efficiency in handling Jian, they also developed the belief that it was necessary to be in harmony with nature. This meant that there was always some form of relationship between the activities of man and those of animals. Numerous techniques applied in Chinese martial arts are a product of imitations from animal fight and hunting activities. The relationship between the use of Jian and the shared association between human and animal activities was based on the fact that the practice of swordplay, as witnessed in other Chinese sporting activities, was a way of gaining the necessary harmony with nature hence the acquisition of better heath and more energy within the body.
The practice of Jian for fighting purpose had its basis on body training and the building of fighting skills. While practicing skills one had to repeat one or numerous fighting techniques to ensure that he attains the required level of speed, accuracy and strength. A Jian fighter was expected to build a strong body through regular exercises. The Chinese believed that a body had to be strong both from within and outside. For one to qualify as a Jian fighter he also had to develop and master different ways of handling the weapon hence the need for a strong body.
Grandfather’s Jian has a rich cultural origin that displays desirable techniques. In an attempt to bring out the value that the sword represents, my grandfather always engages in numerous practices to ensure that he practises on Tai Chi among other Chinese fighting skills. Constant practices with his Jian provide exercises that keep my grandfather healthy due to their physicality. This sword not only act as a way of appreciating a cultural artefact that is great importance to Chinese culture, my grandfather also earns respect from members of the society for the preservation of one of the greatest weapons in Chinese history.