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Thread: Longquan (Dragon Well Forge)

  1. #16
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    SimonM, thanks for the article on your trip to Longquan, just the thing for people hwo would like to know how it is to tour in China but just can't make it for whatever reason.

    i have a question.... how similar is Putonghua to Mandarin: are they close enough so that the different speakers can readily understand each other?
    in my car i keep instructional CDs of Pimsleur's short course in Mandarin, and it's kind of confusing because the title of the cd's of course say "Mandarin" but in the actual lessons we talk a lot about putonghua.

    anyway looking forward to more from you, in KFTC mag. good stuff....
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

  2. #17
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    That's probably changed since then.

    I don't know why people want to keep perpetuating the "little hard-to-get-to village up in the mountains" myth.
    Anyone who's been travelling in China realizes that it's changing at an incredibly rapid rate. My boss went to Dragon Well around '92 and things were a lot different then. China was still on the FEC/RMB money system. Remember that? You could be deported as a foreigner with Chinese money.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #18
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    Putonghua IS Mandarin Chinese.

    And I'm so glad that I missed out on the FEC/RMB days. Things are much better for foreigners living in China now.
    Simon McNeil
    ___________________________________________

    Be on the lookout for the Black Trillium, a post-apocalyptic wuxia novel released by Brain Lag Publishing available in all major online booksellers now.
    Visit me at Simon McNeil - the Blog for thoughts on books and stuff.

  4. #19
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    i have a question.... how similar is Putonghua to Mandarin: are they close enough so that the different speakers can readily understand each other?
    in my car i keep instructional CDs of Pimsleur's short course in Mandarin, and it's kind of confusing because the title of the cd's of course say "Mandarin" but in the actual lessons we talk a lot about putonghua.
    Like he said, it's the same thing I think Putonghua basically means "national language". A basic breakdown I found online: pu=general, widespread + tong=through + hua=language

    I've got the pimsleur set too and really like it... except I just found out that I have no second cd in the package, just two disc#3's

  5. #20
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    Most of the swords you find in longquan will be of average or below quality,
    companies just feading off the name.
    If you are interested in getting a proper forged sword(ie folded, beaten and all that stuff) send me a p.m, as I recently met with master Xie Wing Ming of HK praying mantis. He is a sword expert, is currently trying to get a book on swords published(its only in chinese sorry) with a huge amount of info. He designs swords and he also mentioned he has a man in longquan he personally taught to forge swords in the old style. Obviously the cost is much greater than the standard tin cut outs you will find, but of a much higher quality.
    if your interested, p m me i can give you his email, as im not sure he would appreciate me posting it on a public forum,

    cheers.

  6. #21
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    Can you get crap swords in Longquan?

    Of course!

    Is there probably more crap steel in Longquan than there is high quality forge pieces?

    Again it's more than likely.

    But the good pieces are there... mostly in the back rooms, as I mentioned in my article, and if you make sure you know a thing or two ABOUT swords before you go you can get a good deal.

    Of course having an intermediary who is fluent in Putonghua (or even better: the local dialect) will be helpful if you don't speak the language.
    Simon McNeil
    ___________________________________________

    Be on the lookout for the Black Trillium, a post-apocalyptic wuxia novel released by Brain Lag Publishing available in all major online booksellers now.
    Visit me at Simon McNeil - the Blog for thoughts on books and stuff.

  7. #22
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    CMA is like that...

    On the front end of CMA, it's almost always average to low quality. But that's the nature of CMA research. You got to dig into those back rooms for the good stuff. Most people get put off because they don't dig. They judge on first impression and completely miss the hidden treasures. It's the nature of Chinese culture to hide its treasures. For more on this, check out my old article Real Steel or Tin Foil? How to Buy Quality Chinese Blades and Collecting Modern-made Swords in our Nov 99 issue.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #23
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    thank you Simon and B-rad for your help.

    I've got the pimsleur set too and really like it... except I just found out that I have no second cd in the package, just two disc#3's
    --bummer they have in our libraries here, instructional CD sets you can check out... if you know someone with a cd burner, perhaps your library there has Pimsleurs Mandarin course, you could check it out and burn a copy of the missing CD. doesn't seem like it would be unethical, as you already bought the course & wouldn't have had to make a copy of someone else's, if they had only sold you a proper set of cd's to begin with.


    btw: wo shuo da bu hao but someday it will be good. one of these years i will sign up for the beginning mandarin class with continuing ed. classes offered here, almost free.
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

  9. #24
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    Zhang Yesheng

    A cutting-edge sword-making legacy
    By XING YI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-25 07:56


    A sword made by Zhang Yesheng. Longquan, in Lishui, Zhejiang province, is the home of China's sword making. [Photo provided to China Daily]

    Longquan is said to be where China's first iron sword was crafted-and this historical designation sharpens its allure today.

    The Yue Jue Shu, a chronicle of the Yangtze River Delta's ancient civilization, says the king of Chu summoned swordsmith Ou Yezi to make exceptional weapons some 2,600 years ago, during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

    The craftsman traveled the country, searching for a place with abundant iron ore, cold springs for quenching the forge and suitable stones for grinding blades.

    His quest led him to the foot of Longquan's Qingxi Mountain. He spent three years there forging three legendarily sharp swords-Longyuan, Tai'e and Gongbu.

    Longyuan is the ancient name of Longquan, which is now a county-level city in Zhejiang province's Lishui city. It's still the home of China's sword making.

    "Sword making is far more difficult than it seems," says 50-year-old Zhang Yesheng, who owns the Longquan Sword Factory.

    "The art requires a combination of strength and dexterity."

    He recalls watching residents forging swords in workshops as a child, like most local kids.

    Zhang became an apprentice at the Longquan Sword Factory at age 17.

    He mastered the 72 steps of sword making and opened his own workshop in 1988. He innovated to improve the quality by using rust-resistant chromium steel a decade later.

    Zhang purchased ownership of the State-owned Longquan Sword Factory for 2 million yuan ($292,000) and registered the trademark in 2003.

    "Some low-quality swords previously used Longquan in their names, staining its reputation," he recalls.


    Zhang Yesheng forges a Longquan sword in his workshop. He has inherited the craft and mastered the 72 steps of sword making. [Photo provided to China Daily]

    He pored over texts and visited museums to study ancient designs.

    A high-end handmade replica of an ancient sword can sell for as much as 100,000 yuan.

    Zhang forged two special swords that appeared in martial-arts novelist Jin Yong's (Louis Cha) book as a birthday gift for the author when he visited Longquan for a forum in 2004.

    Zhang also gave Jin Yong a tour of the factory.

    "He said he was amazed by the craft of sword making," he recalls.

    "He told me that it dawned on him that it's so much more work to make swords than to write about them."

    Zhang also made three prop swords for the television series Bi Xue Jian, or Sword Stained with Royal Blood, which was adapted from Jin Yong's novel.

    Zhejiang province nominated Zhang as a master of arts and crafts in 2006. And Longquan's sword making was listed as a national-level intangible cultural heritage that year.

    Zhang's swords have been gifted to politicians, including former Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan and Macao's chief executive, Fernando Chui.

    Longquan today hosts about 100 workshops and factories that produce tens of thousands of swords annually. They're sold throughout the country and the world.

    The city will open a sword museum by the end of the year.

    But Zhang still worries about the future of the craft.

    "Fewer young people want to do the job now," Zhang says.

    "It's a tough work with low pay."

    The furnaces run at over 800 C. Workers must hammer each sword hundreds of times next to the forge.

    Zhang's factory has trained 50 apprentices in recent years, but only one stayed.

    "All of our 25 swordsmiths are growing old," Zhang says.

    "It's a time-honored trade that needs new blood."
    I'm merging the Longquan Jian thread with the Dragon Well Forge thread and re-titling it.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #25
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    Making Longquan Sword in China

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  11. #26
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    Emblazoned Steel - Chinese Sword Exhibition

    Here's another dated exhibit - it's a modern maker but still worthy of the Arms & Armor Museum Exhibits thread, as well as the Longquan (Dragon Well Forge) thread

    Emblazoned Steel - Chinese Sword Exhibition 29-31 May 2014



    There is a interesting exhibition on in Hong Kong at the moment showcasing the work of Hu Xiao Jun 胡小軍, a famous swordsmith in Longquan at the Galerie Huite which is a beautiful space in the chic Star Street area, which was sponsored by my friend Hing Chao. I had a chance to drop by today and look at some of the swords on display. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to bring a camera but luckily Lancelot Chan, one of the masters who teaches me swordwork and sparring, managed to take some I have enclosed some of his photos here, unfortunately they do not do the exhibition justice. HXJ's works has reinterpreted many of the traditional swords, taking inspiration from different ages, sometimes mixing and matching motifs and adding his own take. There was even one piece which he deliberately left raw and unfinished (somewhat similar to the zombie tools pieces that I have discussed in an earlier post).

    His work is beautiful and sought after by many collectors, but I felt that some of his pieces were not always suitable for practical use as the intricately decorated hilt and shagreen (stingray leather) handles would probably cause blistering. Nevertheless, both Hing and HXJ should be commended for trying to create greater awareness of China's sword making heritage which has been unfairly overshadowed by the Japanese sword makers.







    While all the pieces showed artistic merit, the piece I particularly liked was the sword breaker above 龍鞭 , which was retailing for about $11,000 Hong Kong dollars or about USD1,300. So I am counting my coins in my rainy day jar. All the swords at the exhibition were for sale and ranging from $160,000 to a few thousand dollars for the hunting daggers and knives.

    Hing Chao has also provided some close up pictures to share with my readers and I have also included them here. He also mentioned that there will be further talks and exhibitions in the future so I will keep my readers posted. (Have some trouble uploading will try again)




    A brief Biography of HXW:

    Hu Xiao Jun who also uses the artistic name Sword Village was born in Longquan in Zhejiang village and has loved the Chinese swords from a young age. After graduating from university in 1998, he threw himself into the study of the history of Chinese swords and travelled widely, apprenticing himself to many different masters, learning the design and construction of swords as well as carving and lacquerwork. His study included metallurgy and art of forging swords and heat treatment. His apprenticeship took 8 years and he credits himself with reviving the traditional 鏇焊百煉鋼鍛打技藝 method of forging the Chinese sword.

    Master Hu uses carburized Damascus steel, Wootz steel or bin-gang for the edge, and un-carburized steel, ancient sword fragments, or steel alloy extracted from meteorites to form the core and back of the blade, resulting in a flexible weapon with keen cutting edge.

    In 2005 he set up his own factory, with the expressed aim of furthering the research and making of Chinese swords. His works have their own character, and are unlike any other, and highly sought after by collectors. In 2008 he was requested by Wen Jia Bao to forge a jade encrusted Han Sword 《天威》. He has also had success in the film industry, having produced many weapons for John Woo's movie "The Red Cliff" 《赤壁》、Blood The Last Vampire 《小夜刀》 and Confucius 《孔子》.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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