The Jian, 'The Gentleman of Weapons'

Sword of Goujian

This Jian served the King of Yue, a Chinese province during the Spring and Autumn period. It was elaborately made of bronze, then decorated with the ornamentation necessary for a king's sword. Notice the pattern and the expensive turquoise inlays on the hilt. Chinese artisans were especially fond of turquoise.

Zhou Sword

Time takes its toll on all things. This Jian was not as well preserved as the Sword of Goujian, but was once as ornate. Double-edged swords were not very effective in the Chinese system of warfare. Mastering the Jian required a lot of time and training, which peasants did not have, but nobles did.



Surrounded by the heat and flickering light of the forge, the Chinese blacksmith worked long and hard to forge a Jian, or sword. That sword then hung at the waist of a Chinese noble, in court debating policy, and on the battlefield enacting policy. But it would see far less use there than the crude spears wielded by the Chinese peasants fighting on their lord's behalf.

The bronze Jian thus shows its cultural use as a status symbol. By its ornateness, it displays the wealth and power of its owner. How does this compare to the Kariophili?