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Fyrius's avatar

How are Chinese swords traditionally displayed?

Asked by Fyrius (14506 points ) September 20th, 2012

Japanese swords are often decoratively displayed on those cool sword stands. Does there exist a similar thing for Chinese swords, specifically for jian? Is there a traditional way to display them?

(I have acquired the sword in the picture, and it would be nice to put it in a worthy place and not just leave it lying around on my windowsill. And putting a Chinese sword on a Japanese stand feels a bit like… I dunno, like wearing a sombrero to blend in on a vacation in Texas. Like getting a Chinese tattoo that says “noodle soup”. Like mixing up Spock and Yoda.)

(Putting it up on the wall is out too, my wall is rough and I don’t want to risk scratching it.)

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8 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

There are only a few choices;

Hang it on or from something. (Do you have wooden moldings?)

Rest it on something. Table, mantel.

Stick it into something. Your choice.

It is a truly beautiful object.

Jeruba's avatar

How about a glass-fronted display case?

Or you could mount a suit of Chinese armor on a stand and display the sword resting against it.

Fyrius's avatar

Hm…
I’ve also seen this sort of thing before, that’s more the sort of thing I have in mind. (Although that takes up more space than I have to spare, and the tip of my sword’s sheath is pointy and not broad like that.)
Some more googling also turned up this variety. Hum.

@Jeruba
Those sound very classy, but not really the sort of thing for someone with a limited budget and not all that much space. :P
I’d need something simple… and preferably cheap, haha.

Incidentally, this is a tai chi sword – I’m not sure, but I think the clothes that go with it are more likely to be silky robes rather than heavy armour. :)
The design is fairly modern, too, I believe, rather than historical / traditional.

…much-appreciated suggestions and my particular situation aside, though: what would be the traditional thing to do?

lifeflame's avatar

Usually displayed flat, much rarely standing. Propped up by small wooden things just to give it enough lift, much like chopsticker holders keep the sticks off the table. Usually subtle, because you want your focus to be on the sword (or the ornate scabbard). Or you could display it hanging.

Personally, I don’t think we tend to show off swords too much. It’s a weapon, so it’s not that harmonious to hang in a living room or study. I’d hang mine at the back of my door.

Fyrius's avatar

@lifeflame
I see! Thanks.
Do Chinese people still use swords and the like for home self defence?

lifeflame's avatar

Generally speaking, very few tai chi swords are actual blades with sharp edges, and even fewer people actually learn the sword as a weapon. (The form has evolved so much that it feels more as exercise and aesthetic than actual fighting.) Because the swords are not sharp, it’s probably more effective for me to whack a thief on the head with it as it is to slice them in a move that I’ve been taught.

Still, I think ideologically people still think of it as a weapon. I remember when I bought mine from the store (incidentally, almost an identical design as yours!), the shopkeeper seemed surprised that I didn’t want it wrapped, and that I wanted to carry it around brazenly on the metro. My sifu and colleagues also suggested it was better I cover it up. So I made a cloth cover for it, and that’s how I lug it around. Actually, sometimes I strap the sword to my back when I bike my way to tai chi class… the modern swordswoman…

Now that you have the sword, you should consider taking tai chi sword classes. It’s really fun!

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Fyrius's avatar

I might just do that. :) I’ve done Tai Chi for some years, and scratched the surface of the sword forms just a little bit. This could be a fun opportunity to get back into that.
Incidentally, the base of this blade is blunt, but towards the tip it gets sharp. I’m told that’s normal. Might be great for intimidating burglars, but I wouldn’t want to accidentally disembowel a bloke.

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