The Richard Nable Collection
Click to enlarge pictures to full
Ba culture Ge , this is a magnificent piece. It appears to
be plated in tin
as many fine weapons were during the Warring States period. It measures a
massive 31 cm in length and weighs 786 grams. I plan to do more study on
this piece but for now wanted to share it with the museum.
A very unique dagger with a pattern etched blade. The piece
dates to the
Warring States period and is probably from the Wu or Yue culture. It is made
of bronze and measures 37 cm in length. The dark areas of the pattern are
plain bronze while the light areas are coated with tin. The exact process by
which this was done is still a mystery.
A positive iron mould for a short jian (two edged sword).
moulds were used toward the end of the Warring States period for
mass-producing bronze coins. The positive mould was used to mass produce
negative clay moulds. The clay moulds were then used for casting the bronze
coin (or weapon as in this case). This is the only example I can find of a
weapon being produced that way. The weapon is attributed to the minority
Hun tribes of inner Mongolia and can be seen in "Weapons In Ancient China"
by Yang Hong on page 140 (figure 204). This mould appears to be the exact
one used to cast the weapon referred to in the text.
A very rare Shang period Yue. It has an oval
socket similar to other types
found in Northern China. It measures roughly 20 cm across and weighs an
impressive 528 grams. This is the only example of such an axe that I have
been able to find anywhere and it is likely the rarest piece in my
A triangular shaped ge with a sculpted nei from
the Dian culture and dates
to the Warring States period but it could possibly be several centuries
older. It has a great patina with traces of the wood shaft still visible. It
measures 21.5 cm in length and weighs 204 grams.
Zhou dynasty ge subjected to a subtle, chemical cleaning to reveal the
decoration. The Red areas are cuprite that formed beneath the encrustation
that was removed.
Late warring states period crossbow
mechanism with beautiful silver inlay work both on the mechanism itself and
on the piece that would have fit over he end of the crossbow. This piece
measures 13.5 cm in length and about 13 cm in height. The end cap is 4.4 cm
in height, 5.4 cm in length and 3.2 cm in width. Even in my reference texts
I have not found more than one or two of these in such fine condition.
A Ge or dagger ax that is attributed to
the Chu culture of ancient China and dates to the Warring States period of
the Zhou dynasty. It has inscribed decoration on both sides of the nei and
has a four character inscription in ancient Chu script on the right side. It
measures just over 9.5 inches in length and weighs an impressive 313 grams.
The metal has been lightly cleaned to show the decoration and script.
Pieces like this are rarely found outside of museums.
An exquisite and very rare ge dating back
to the Shang Dynasty (circa 1700-1100 BC). The ge has a modeled,
3-dimensional decoration in the form of a tiger pouncing on a phoenix. A
nearly identical example if this museum quality weapon can be seen on page
71 of Cheng Dong's book, "Ancient Chinese Weapons - A Collection Of
Pictures" This fully intact, un restored piece weighs 245 grams and measures
roughly 15cm in length.
A nice sword for this site, is a rare
piece from the Warring States period with a decorated hilt, rings and
pommel. I also have the remnants of a scabbard for this piece that I am
currently treating for preservation.
Warring States period polearm foot (zhun)
extensively decorated with an inlaid silver geometric design that is unique
to the period. The piece measures 9 cm in length and weighs 118 grams.
Pieces of this quality are rarely seen outside of museums.
This is a decorated spearhead from the Ba
culture in the area of China that is now the Sichuan province. The Ba often
copied designs from earlier Shangdynasty pieces but then added their own
unique decoration. While many non-minority pieces had the decorations made
into the molds prior to casting, the Ba generally inscribed their
decorations after casting as isthe case with this piece. The decoration is
therefore depressed into the bronze rather than raised. The piece dates most
likely to around the early Zhou period. It measures 14.3 cm and weighs 57
These two similar spearheads (mao) are
from the Warring States period and are typical designs of the period. The
smaller one was excavated in Shanxiprovince. It is undecorated and measures
13 cm in length. It weighs 54 grams. The larger piece was excavated in Henan
Province and it has some raised geometric decorations visible underneath the
patina. It measures 14.7 cm in length and weighs in at an impressive 115
grams. Both have a raisedeyelet near the socket for lashing to a wooden
A very rare bimetallic bronze sword that
was unearthed in Anhui provence. It dates to the Warring States period and
is an impressive 63 cm long. It weighs in at 797 grams. These swords were
cast in several stages and this one has a softer core of higher copper
content for increased tensile strength and edges with a higher tin content
to hold a sharper edge.Swords like this one were generally crafted for very
important or high-ranking individuals.
This first one is of a bronze, openwork
dagger that I believe is from the Dong Son culture in ancient china. This
particular piece dates to circa 200 BC and is in very good condition with no
breaks or repairs. The handle is hollow with an openwork design in the
bronze. It measures roughly 30.5 cm in length. The bronze appears to have a
high tin content which makes the alloy harder and sharper but also more
Click to enlarge pictures to full
A bronze dagger or short sword from the Dian culture. The weapon is
generally referred to as a jian, or two edged sword. This particular piece
has a short, heavy, triangular blade which makes for a very robust weapon.
As far as I can tell, the piece should date anywhere from the Spring and
Autumn Period (770-476 BC) to the Warring States Period (475-221BC). It
measures just under 26 cm in length and is nearly 7.5 cm wide at the widest
point. This piece is in remarkable condition for its age and even has
remnants of decoration on the handle. Portions of it has
likely been cleaned.
These two spearheads date to China's
Warring States period. Both are inexcellent condition. The one on the left is 13 cm long and the one on
the right is nearly 15 cm long. Both have loops near the base for lashing to
the pole and the piece on the right has some decoration that is obscured
bythe patina. The left piece was unearthed in the Shanxi Province and thepiece on the right was unearthed in Henan Province.
This piece is another bronze zhun or pole
arm foot. It dates to the early Warring States period in ancient China. The
piece has profuse, inlaid decorations across the majority of the surface
which are unique to theperiod. It is quite a fascinating, museum quality
pommel, rings and guard of a late Warring States sword. Swords of this type
likely belonged to high ranking or royal individuals. This particular sword
is just over 25 inches long and weighs approximately 1013 grams. The detail
and artistic work on this piece is very impressive.
A Ge (dagger
axe) that dates to the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) of
the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. This beautiful bronze weapon has an
open work design on the nei. I have been unable to locate any
reference material pertaining to the design but am still
looking. The nei measures 3.2 cm wide and 9.5 cm long. The yuan
is approximately 12.5 cm along a horizontal axis and shows
remains of the original bindings which would have mounted it to
its pole. Note the triangular tip and the slightly upturned
angle of the blade that are characteristic of ge from this
Click to enlarge pictures to full
pole arm foot. These are most often referred to as "zhun"The
zhun was commonly found on the distal end of a spear or axe pole
and their existence in tombs has helped to confirm the overall
length of ancient chinese pole weapons. Even centuries after
the pole has rotted away, the bronze spear head and zhun still
lay in their original positions showing us exactly how long the
spears were. This magnificent piece measures 14.3 cm in length
and is 4.1 cm at its widest point. The socket where the pole was
inserted is egg-shaped and measures roughly 3 cm along the
longest axis. There are remnants of the pole still inside the
socket which I will eventually send for c14 dating. Until that
test has been done, however, judging from the overall style and
the characteristic pre-Han geometric decoration I will place a
tentative date on this piece of late Warring States (475-221
BC). Because of the large size and elaborate decoration on this
piece, we can assume that it was part of a weapon belonging to a
very important person.
(see Yang Hong,
"Weapons in Ancient China" p205 fig 292 and also Max Loehr,
"Chinese Bronze Age Weapons" pp163-165 and catalogue #76 & 77)
socketed, round axe from Sichuan provence probably dating as far
back as the Western Zhou period (1100-771 BC). This type seems
to be particular to that general region and time period. While
axes of this type may range in length from 7 cm to 20 cm, this
particular axe is 15.8 cm. The socket is slightly ovoid with
internal dimensions of 3.7 cm by 3.2 cm. The width at the
"shoulders" is 6 cm. Though this type of axe is not
exceptionally rare, none so far have been found with their
handles intact so the precise use to which the axe was put
is still a mystery.
Bagley, " Ancient Sichuan - Treasures From a Lost Civilization"
Click to enlarge picture
little axe is referred to by Max Loehr in "Chinese Bronze Age
Weapons" (pp.5-6) as a type A III oval bladed axe which is most
likely from the Ordos region or maybe even as far north as upper
Mongolia. The axe likely dates to the latter part of the second
millennium B.C. (Shang Dynasty time period) but due to their
extreme rarity, axes of this type are difficult to date. This axe
has a dark patina with patches of Cuprite and malachite that are
plainly visible under magnification. There are traces of wood
fibers in the socket and there are also traces of fabric in the
corrosion where the piece was likely wrapped in cloth before
burial. The blade measures 6.2 cm X 7.5 cm. The shaft (which is
oval in shape) measures 10.3 cm in length and has a double wedge
and dot decoration on both sides. One side of the shaft has some
other type of pictogram or clan symbol on the lower part. The rear
of the axe has a hammer-like protuberance near the top that
measures 1.5 X 1.2 cm. and a small ring that appears to have been
cast with the rest of the piece near the bottom.
Click to enlarge picture
A bronze "dadao"
or broad sword dating to the Shang dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) The
weapon is 28.5 cm in length and 3.5 cm in width with three
sockets or perforations along the dorsal edge and 16 ornamental
studs placed longitudinally along the blade. The weapon would
have been attached to a wooden pole via these perforations and
is one of the rarest types of Shang dynasty weapons. This
particular weapon has sections of bronze showing a nice golden
hue while other sections show a distinct green malachite patina.
There are wood fibers embedded in the corrosion in each of the
three sockets that are remnants of the original pole. (For a similar
reference see Hong, Yang : "Weapons in Ancient China" pp. 52-54
and color fig. 11)
Click to enlarge pictures to full size.
Very rare and
completely intact iron sword (jian) with a "cast on"
bronze guard dating at least to the Han dynasty and probably as
early as the Warring States period (475-221 BC). The
sword measures roughly 114 cm in length and has remnants of the
wooden scabbard embedded in the corrosion. It is very rare to
have any iron implements last over two thousand years because of
the inherent instability of the metal. This piece is exceptional
not only for that reason but because of its uncommon length.
Although a very few similar swords have been found that are
longer than this, (up to 1.4 m) most are considerably shorter
and the ones I have seen rarely exceed 83 cm. with only one
example measuring 104 cm.
See Yang Hong,
"Weapons in Ancient China" pp.173-177
Massive bronze sword found in Anhui
province ,dates to the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC). This
completely intact specimen has a lustrous green malachite patina and
measures 68.7 cm in length. The cross guard is 5 cm wide and the
pommel area is 2 cm wide. There is a distinct difference in the
metal along the edge of the sword as opposed to the metal in the
middle of the blade. Ancient Chinese bronzesmiths recognized that
the edge of the sword needed to be hard to retain its cutting power
while the bulk of the blade needed to be able to flex to prevent
breakage. Thus the sword is a composite casting with the metal on
the edge of the blade having higher tin content and a lighter color
than the metal in the center of the blade. For a nearly identical
specimen, see "Weapons in Ancient China" by Yang Hong p.112 fig 158.
period (475-221 BC) Ge or dagger axe. The ge was a pole mounted
weapon and would usually be mounted with other, similar pieces.
on the same pole. The small supplemental piece I am sure has a
name but so far I haven't found anyone who knows what it is
called or just exactly what position it would have been mounted
on the pole. This particular piece is unique because of the
serrated edges that resemble a bat wing. Both pieces also have a
chromium based plating which was developed at the height of
Chinese bronze manufacturing technology. The plating accounts
for the unusually minimal amount of corrosion. The Ge measures
15 cm along the longitudinal edge that would have been parallel
to the pole. The "nei" or butt of the Ge is 10.5 cm along the
longest axis and 2.4 cm wide. The "hu" or blade is roughly 19cm
in length and 3.2 cm at its widest point. For a similar example
see Max loehr, "Chinese Bronze Age Weapons" plate XXXII.
dagger axe that would commonly be called a ge. It does maintain
some characteristics of an earlier type of pole mounted weapon
called a k'uei such as the triangular blade with the nei (butt)
centered on the yuan (blade). none of my resource materials have
an exact match for this piece but very similar pieces may be
found in "Ancient Sichuan Treasures From a Lost Civilization" by
Robert Baglet p 242, "Ancient Chinese Weapons" by Cheng Dong et
al p 108 and "Chinese Bronze Age Weapons" by Max Loehr p 17.
Purchased as being from the Western Zhou Dynasty 1100-771 BC but
may date to as late at 400 bc. The piece measures 21.5 cm in
length and is 11.3 cm at the widest point. The hole in the blade
is surrounded by a pattern of some sort and there is an obvious
visible repair. I am still researching this piece.
A Terra Cotta soldier from the China's Han
dynasty. He measures nearly two feet tall, has no discernable
repairs and has remnants of the original paint over a large
percentage of his body. The arms of these soldiers would have
been fashioned out of wood or possibly silk and they were
dressed elaborately and equipped with scale size weapons.
Soldiers of these type replaced the practice of burying actual
soldiers with interred emperors.
A bronze mechanism from a
strong crossbow (Qiang Nu) that most likely dates to the Han
dynasty (206BC-220AD). Han dynasty crossbow mechanisms offered
improved strength and acuracy over those of the Warring Sates
period (475BC-221BC)as the trigger mechanism was pinned into a
bronze case rather than pinned directly into the wooden stock
(as had been the practice in the Warring States period.) This
particular piece probably dates to the early Han period due to
the shortness of the aiming sight, which is the piece protruding
upward from the main part of the mechanism. In the later Han
period, the aiming sight was generally longer and sometimes even
had an aiming scale incised into the bronze. This piece has no
aiming scale. The aiming sight measures 25mm. the overall length
of the piece is 13cmand it is roughly 12.5cm from top to bottom.
It has traces of gold gilding in places and on the trigger there
is an inscription which reads "In the fourth year, second month,
made by works superintendant Wu Han."
Click to enlarge pictures to