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Longquan Swords

China Today,January 18, 2018 Adjust font size:

Beyond a Weapon

Swords are one of the earliest cold weapons in Chinese history. In the seventh century they were gradually replaced by new weapons and arms in the battlefield, and then began to bear more cultural connotations.

In ancient China two objects were regarded as the emblem of power – seals and swords.

Due to strict hierarchy at that time, it was seen as a privilege to carry swords, which represented social status, rank, and taste. The rules for wearing swords were also clear and obeyed rigorously. In the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), for example, kings could start to carry swords at the age of 20, magistrates at 30, aristocrats at 40, while commoners could be armed with swords only on occasions of utmost necessity.

The sword has always been seen as a symbol of masculinity. In the Chinese martial art culture, swords are the physical manifestation of many notions of chivalry – pride, freedom, justice, strength, among many others. A chivalrous hero defended justice by a sword, not by a saber or a gun – through a sword the hero was able to remove any obstacles in the path to a new world. In this context, swords were thought of having souls, like faithful friends of their masters. Therefore, many scholars and poets also wore swords, and the most famous ones are Confucius (551-479 BC) and Li Bai (701-762), the Tang Dynasty poet.

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