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Thread: The Sword of Guojian

  1. #1
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    ttt 4 2016!

    This is from last summer, but it just came to my attention.



    22 JUNE, 2015 - 14:39 BRYAN HILL
    Goujian: The Ancient Chinese Sword that Defied Time

    Fifty year ago, a rare and unusual sword was found in a tomb in China. Despite being well over 2,000 years old, the sword, known as the Goujian, did not have a single trace of rust. The blade drew blood when an archeologist tested his finger on its edge, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time. Besides this strange quality, the craftsmanship was highly detailed for a sword made such a long time ago. Regarded as a state treasure in China today, the sword is as legendary to the Chinese people as King Arthur's Excalibur in the West.
    In 1965, archaeologists were carrying out a survey in Hubei province, just 7 km (4 miles) from the ruins of Jinan, capital of the ancient Chu state, when they discovered fifty ancient tombs. During the excavations of the tombs, researchers unearthed the sword of Goujian alongside 2,000 other artifacts.

    Discovery of the Goujian
    According to the leader of the archeological team responsible for the excavation, it was discovered in a tomb, in a near air-tight wooden box next to a skeleton. The team was stunned when the perfectly preserved bronze sword with scabbard was removed from the box. When it was unsheathed, the blade was revealed to be untarnished despite being buried in damp conditions for two millennia. A test conducted by the archaeologists showed that the blade could easily cut a stack of twenty pieces of paper.


    Sword of Goujian, Hubei Provincial Museum ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Jian swords
    The Sword of Goujian is one of the earliest known Jian swords, a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. Jian swords are among the earliest sword types in China and are closely associated with Chinese mythology. In Chinese folklore, it is known as "The Gentleman of Weapons" and is considered one of the four major weapons, along with the staff, spear, and the sabre.


    One iron and two bronze Jian swords from the Chinese Warring states period ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Relatively short compared to similar historical pieces, the Gouijan sword is a bronze sword with a high concentration of copper, making it more pliant and less likely to shatter. The edges are made of tin, making them harder and capable of retaining a sharper edge. There are also small amounts of iron, lead and sulfur in the sword, and research has revealed a high proportion of sulfur and sulfide cuprum, which gives the sword its rustproof quality. Black rhombic etchings cover both sides of the blade and blue glaze and turquoise is imbedded on the sword handle. The grip of the sword is bound by silk while the pommel is composed of 11 concentric circles. The sword measures 55.7 cm long (21.9 in), including an 8.4 cm (3.3 in) handle hilt, and has a 4.6 cm (1.8 in) wide blade. It weighs 875 grams (30.9) oz.


    The turquoise can be seen embedded in the sword ’s handle ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Deciphering the inscription
    On one side of the blade, two columns of text are visible with eight characters, near the hilt, that are in ancient Chinese script. The script, known as "鸟虫文" (literally "'birds and worms' characters") is characterized by intricate decorations to the defining strokes, and is a variant of zhuan that is very difficult to read. Initial analyses deciphered six of these eight characters. They read, "越王" (King of Yue) and "自作用剑" ("made this sword for (his) personal use"). The remaining two characters are likely the name of the king.


    Deciphering the scripts on the Sword of Goujian ( Wikipedia)

    From its birth in 510 BC to its demise at the hands of Chu in 334 BC, nine kings ruled Yue, including Goujian, Lu Cheng, Bu Shou, and Zhu Gou, among others. The identity of the king that owned the sword sparked debate among archaeologists and Chinese language scholar. After more than two months, the experts formed a consensus that the original owner of the sword was Goujian (496 – 465 BC), making the sword around 2,500 years old.


    King Goujian of Yue ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Goujian was a famous emperor in Chinese history who reigned over the Yue State during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 - 476 BC). This was a time marked by chaos within the Zhou Dynasty and takes its name from the Spring and Autumn Annals, which chronicled this period. The Spring and Autumn Period was renowned for military expeditions; these conflicts led to the perfecting of weapons to the point that they were incredibly resistant and deadly, taking years to forge and lasting for centuries. The story of Goujian and Fuchai, King of the Wu state, contending for hegemony is famous throughout China. Although Goujian’s kingdom was initially defeated by the State of Wu, Goujian would lead his army to victory 10 years later.

    Unique properties
    Besides its historic value, many scholars have wondered how this sword could have remained rust-free in a humid environment, for more than 2,000 years, and how the delicate decorations were carved into the sword. The sword of Goujian is still as sharp today as when it was originally crafted, and not a single spot of rust can be found on the body today.


    The Goujian sword is as sharp today as it was over two millennia ago ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Researchers analyzed ancient bronze shards in the hope of finding a way to replicate the technology used to create the sword. They found that the sword is resistant to oxidation as a result of sulphation on the surface of the sword. This, combined with an air-tight scabbard, allowed the legendary sword to be found in such pristine condition.
    Tests also show that the sword-smiths of the Wu and Yue regions in Southern China during the Spring and Autumn Period reached such a high level of metallurgy that they were able to incorporate rust-proof alloys into their blades, helping them survive the ages relatively unblemished. The sword was lent to the National Palace Museum in Taipei where it was on display until 2011, along with various other bronze pieces from the excavation. It is currently in the possession of the Hubei Provincial Museum.
    Featured image: The Sword of Goujian. ( Llu Tao / Flickr )
    By Bryan Hilliard

    References
    "Sword of Goujian." HistoriaRex.com. http://historiarex.com/e/en/89-sword-of-goujian

    "Sword of Swords: The Sword of Goujian." China Culture. http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_cu...tent_47488.htm

    Andrei, Mihai. "The Sword of Goujian - Untarnished after 2700 Years." ZME Science. October 21, 2011. http://www.zmescience.com/science/ar...jian-21102011/
    Kalamidas, Thanos. "The Blade That Defeated Millennia." Gbtimes.com. April 17, 2013. http://gbtimes.com/life/blade-defeated-millennia
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #2
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    More on the Sword of Goujian

    MartialArtsMart.com carries a limited number of Goujian replica swords. I think there is only a few left and I'm not confident they will get re-stocked. The collector swords are shipment to shipment. It's a really nice display piece and would make a great gift.

    Goujian - The Ancient Chinese Sword that Defied Time
    June 01, 2017
    Over fifty years ago, a rare and unusual sword was found in an ancient tomb in China. This ancient weapon is known as “The Sword of Goujian,” and though it’s supposed to be over 2,000 years old, its blade is said to not have a single trace of rust. The sword’s blade has managed to retain its sharpness, drawing blood when a person’s finger is tested on its edge, as if it was completely immune by the passage of millennia. But aside from this strange quality, its craftsmanship has been praised for being intricately detailed for a sword that was forged in a supposedly technologically-limited era.

    Discovery of the Sword of Goujian



    The discovery of the Sword of Goujian dates back in 1965, during which an archeological survey was being performance along the second main aqueduct of the Zhang River Reservoir in Jingzhou of Hubei province. More than fifty ancient tombs of the Chu State – a successful hegemonic and expansionist state during the Spring and Autumn Period in the early 8th century BCE - were found in Juangling County.

    And so, an archeological dig was initiated, beginning in the middle of October 1965 and ended in January 1966. In December 1965, 4.3 miles or 7 kilometers from the ruins of Jinan, an ancient capital of Chu, the archeological team responsible for the excavation discovered an ancient tomb. In its casket was a skeleton, and next to it was a near air-tight wooden box. From inside this box, they removed a perfectly preserved bronze sword in its scabbard.

    This sword is now identified as the Sword of Goujian, and it was unearthed by these archeological researchers along with 2,000 other artifacts.

    To their amazement, upon unsheathing the bronze sword, its blade was revealed to be untarnished. And the fact that the sword appeared to be in perfect condition despite being buried in damp conditions for more than 2,000 years was astonishing. A test conducted by the archaeologists showed that the sword’s blade could easily cut a stack of twenty pieces of paper.

    Construction of the Sword of Goujian



    The Sword of Goujian is among the earliest known Jian swords. A Jian sword is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. Jian swords are among the earliest known sword types in China, and these bladed weapons are closely associated with Chinese mythology. In Chinese folklore, this type of sword is referred to as "The Gentleman of Weapons," and is considered to be one of the four major weapons, along with the staff, spear, and the sabre.

    “The Sword of Goujian” is relatively short compared to other historical pieces of its kind. It is a bronze sword with a very high concentration of copper, which made it more malleable and less likely to break apart. The blade’s edges are made of tin, which not only made the sword harder, but also made it more capable of retaining a sharper edge. The sword also contains small amounts of iron, lead and sulfur. The sword’s high proportion of sulfur and sulfide cuprum is revealed to be what gives the weapon its rustproof quality, as sulfur decreases the chance of tarnish in the blade’s patterns.

    Weighing 30.9 ounces or 875 grams, the Sword of Goujian measures 21.9 inches or 55.7 centimeters long, including its 3.3.-inch or 8.4-centimeter handle hilt. The blade, on the other hand, is 1.8 inches or 4.6 centimeters wide at its base.

    Repeating black rhombic etchings cover both sides of the blade, while blue crystals and turquoise are imbedded on the sword handle. The grip of the sword is bound by silk while its pommel is composed of 11 concentric circles.

    Inscription on the Sword of Goujian And Subsequent Identification



    The owner of this ancient sword was determined through the inscription etched on the its blade. On one side of the blade, eight characters arranged in two columns of text are visible. These characters found near the sword’s hilt are written in an ancient Chinese script known as Bird-worm seal script or “Niǎo Chóng Zhuà”, which literally means “birds and worms characters” because of the writing system’s intricate decoration to the defining strokes. It is a variant of “Zhuan” or seal script, which is very difficult to read.

    Initial analyses deciphered six of the eight characters. The characters translate to: “King of Yue” ("越王") "made this sword for (his) personal use" ("自作用剑"). According to experts, the remaining two characters are likely to be the name of the king.

    From the sword’s origin in 510 BC to the Yue State’s demise at the hands of Chu in 334 BC, nine kings ruled Yue, including Goujian, Lu Cheng, Bu Shou, and Zhu Gou, among several others. Identifying the correct king that owned the sword sparked debate among archaeologists as well as Chinese language scholars. Eventually, the experts reached a consensus and decided that the original owner of the sword was Goujian, who reigned between 496 and 465 BC, making the sword around 2,500 years old.

    Goujian was a well-known emperor in Chinese history who reigned over the Yue State during the Spring and Autumn Period. King Goujian’s reign coincided with what is arguably the last major conflict of this period, which is the struggle between the Wu State and the Yue.

    The story of King Goujian and Fuchai, King of the Wu state, contending for hegemony is famous throughout China. At some point, Yue was defeated by Wu and Goujian had to serve as Fuchai’s servant for three years before he was allowed to return to his native state. However, after ten years of economic and political reforms, Goujian eventually led his army to victory in the last phase of the war, annexing the rival state.

    As a ruler, Goujian never relished in kingly riches, and instead, he ate food suited for peasants and even forced himself to taste bile as a reminder of his humiliations serving under the Wu State. Hence, as a monarch, he was made famous by his perseverance in times of hardship and his ruthlessness during battle.

    Unique Properties of the Sword of Goujian



    Apart from its historic value, many scholars have wondered how the Sword of Goujian managed to remain rust-free in a humid environment for more than 2,000 years, and how it became possible for it to be as sharp today as when it was originally forged. They were also impressed with the delicate decorations carved into the sword, and by the fact that not a single spot of rust can be found on its body today.

    In the hopes of replicating the technology used to create the sword, researchers analyzed ancient bronze shards, and they found that the sword is resistant to oxidation due to sulphation on the sword’s surface. Combined with an air-tight scabbard, this allowed the legendary sword to remain in such pristine condition even after more than two millennia.

    The swordsmiths of the Wu and Yue regions in Southern China during the Spring and Autumn Period was also determined to have reached a high level of metallurgy to the point that they were able to incorporate rust-proof alloys into their blades. Their skill in sword-making aided ancient weapons of the time like the Sword of Goujian to survive through the ages relatively unblemished.

    Since its discovery, the Sword of Goujian is regarded as a state treasure in China, and is deemed as a truly legendary sword that defied the rigors of time. This archeological artifact continues to be revered by the Chinese people, much like the fascination over King Arthur’s mythical Excalibur in the West.

    The Sword of Goujian was lent to the National Palace Museum in Taipei where it was on display until 2011, along with various other bronze pieces from the 1965 excavation. Presently this archeological artifact is in the possession and care of the Hubei Provincial Museum.
    Sources:

    http://www.ancient-origins.net/artif...279?nopaging=1
    http://printarchive.epochtimes.com/a..._23_lowres.pdf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_of_Goujian
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Goujian_of_Yue
    https://youtu.be/M6wcFzBTa7Q
    http://en.hubei.gov.cn/culture/herit...1_450099.shtml
    http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaW...istory618.html
    http://mymodernmet.com/sword-of-goujian/
    http://en.yibada.com/articles/101006...rd-legends.htm
    http://historiarex.com/e/en/89-sword-of-goujian

    Michael Chen
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  3. #3
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    Legendary swords

    The Sword of Guojian deserves its own indie thread since I sorta hijacked this off a semi-relevant post, so I'm copying the relevant posts off our Essay on legendary Chinese swordsmen and swordfights thread.

    This is an old article, but it just popped up on my feed and it's kinda cool.
    Some of the most legendary swords of all time
    Sep 19, 2016 Ian Harvey



    History is filled with stories and legends involving swords. Often, the weapons in these stories do indeed have some grounding in fact, here are 10 of the greatest and most interesting swords to have been discovered.

    The Sword In The Stone


    The Sword In The Stone. – By Alexmar983 – CC BY-SA 3.0

    Even though the Arthurian legend is well known to be a creation of myth and folklore, a sanctuary in Monte Siepi, Italy contains a real-life “sword in the stone”.

    It’s thought that the sword belonged to Saint Galgano, a 12th-century Tuscan cavalier whom Archangel Michael ordered to give up his sinful habits.

    Galgan protested, saying that this would be as hard as stabbing a sword through a stone. He thrusted his weapon at a nearby stone to prove his point, but instead of breaking, the sword sliced through the rock as if it wasn’t there, and then stuck fast at the hilt.

    This is considered by some to be the inspiration of the legend of Excaliber in the stone.

    The Kusanagi


    Kusanagi

    According to folklore, the “sword in the snake,” Kusanagi, was discovered in the body of an eight-headed serpent slayed by the god of seas and storms.

    It’s an important part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, a sign of the ancient imperial family’s ancestry from the sun goddess, the key to their celestial right to the decree.

    It is said that the sword was stolen in the sixth century by a monk whose ship then sank, but it was allegedly recovered by a group of Shinto priests. The refusal of the the priests to reveal the weapon, as well as the unreputable nature of historical references to it, leave its current status somewhat hazy. It could well be lying on the bottom of the ocean.

    Durandal


    Durendal
    For hundreds of ages, a legendary sword has remained embedded in the cliffs directly above the Notre Dame chapel in Rocamadour, France. The monks state it is called Durandal, sword of the paladin Roland.

    Conferring to legend, Roland heaved the holy blade into the lateral of the cliff to save it from being taken by his opponents.

    Ever since the 12th century, the chapel has remained an end point for holy pilgrimages. In 2011, the sword was removed by means of the resident municipality and was taken to the Cluny Museum in Paris for an exhibit.

    The Cursed Muramasas


    Muramasa. – By Ihimutefu – CC BY-SA 3.0

    Muramasa in the tales was an ancient Japanese swordsmith whom, rendering to fable, prayed that his blades would become the “prodigious destroyers.”

    For the reason that of the excellent quality of his blades, the deities granted his appeal and instilled the weapons with a ferocious spirit that, if not satisfied with combat, would make the wielder mad and drive him to suicide or murder. There are numerous tales of the Muramasas’ wielders becoming insane and being killed. The swords were thought to be cursed, and were forbidden by imperial decree.

    St. Peter’s Sword

    Sword in Archdiocesan Museum. – By Radomil – GFDL 1.2

    There are numerous legends about the sword used by Saint Peter when he sliced off the ear of the high priest while they were in the garden of Gethsemane. English folklore has it transported to England by Joseph of Arimathea alongside with the Holy Grail.

    However, in 968 another sword alleged to be the sword of St. Peter was carried to Poland by the Bishop of Jordan. The Bishop’s sword, considered by some to be an authentic historical object, stayed in Poland and was ultimately relocated to the Archdiocese Museum that is located in Poznan.

    The Wallace Sword


    The Wallace sword. – By Glenn J. Mason – CC BY 2.0

    Myths tell of how William Wallace, the lead character of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, used human flesh to make his sword’s covering, belt, and hilt. The skin was thought to have belonged to Hugh de Cressingham, who Wallace defeated in the combat at Stirling Bridge.

    One description of the fable says that Wallace used Cressingham’s skin for his sword’s sash. Additional interpretations state that Wallace and his kinsmen used Cressingham’s flesh for saddle girths.

    The Sword of Goujian


    Sword of Goujian, – By Siyuwj – CC BY-SA 4.0

    In 1965, an extraordinary sword was discovered in a moist tomb located in China, and despite being over 2,000 years old, there was not one touch of rust on it.

    The blade was so sharp that an archaeologist cut his finger tried its edge upon his finger. In addition to its resilience, the workmanship of the engravings was also incredibly comprehensive for a sword created so long ago. It was, for the period, it was completely unknown.

    This script on the sword reads “King of Yue” (越王) and “made this sword for [his] personal use” (自作用剑).

    It seems that the swordsmiths of the ancient kingdom of Yue were so skilled that they were able to incorporate rust-resistant chemicals into their blades.

    In addition, and in a stroke of wonderful good fortune, the scabbard of this precise blade was almost airtight, which stopped oxidation and permitted the famous sword to be discovered in such immaculate condition.

    The Seven-Branched Sword


    Chiljido. – By Chiljido – CC BY 2.0

    In 1945, a mysterious sword was located in Japan’s Isonokami shrine. The sword was of exceptionally rare make, with six protrusions sprouting out from its sides. The sword is extremely worn, and the inscriptions are hard to read, but it has been established that sword was a gift from a Korean king to a Japanese monarch.

    According to the Nihon Shoki, a legendary seven-branched sword gifted to a fabled shaman empress called Jingu. It is believed that this legendary sword is the same one found in the shrine.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #5
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    【Chinese Civilization 720HD】 The Sword of King of Yue / Episode 01

    Gene Ching
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Wonder since the sword is relatively short compared to similar historical pieces, if it was sized specifically for the owner or the if the length was determined by materials of the design. In frame 1:29 it looks like the sword is about the length from the collarbone to the tips of the fingers...

  7. #7
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    越王勾踐劍的五大謎團:為什麼千年不鏽?11個同心圓如何製作?菱形暗

    Gene Ching
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