The Richard Nable Collection  

Click to enlarge pictures to full size.


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). Positive metal
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.

Early 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 grams.


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 pole.


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 brittle.

Click to enlarge pictures to full size.

 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 piece.

Handle, 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 period

Click to enlarge pictures to full size.

Painted bronze 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)


Shouldered, 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. 

 See Robert Bagley, " Ancient Sichuan - Treasures From a Lost Civilization"  p.243


Click to enlarge picture

This wonderful 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.


Warring States 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.


Pole mounted 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 full size.