23. Chinese Beiyang Army Nine-Lion General’s Sword, circa 1920 (ID: cc1272)
23. Chinese Beiyang Army Nine-Lion General’s Sword, circa 1920
|( ID: cc1272 )|
Overall dimensions: 94 cm
Blade length: 76.2 cm
Weight: 3.7 lbs
Price on request
Most notably, the one that is visible to the public is in the institutional collection of the Beijing National Museum, where the sword of Cai E is preserved. Indicative of the level of those who were allowed to carry these swords, Cai E was a Chinese revolutionary leader and warlord who eventually became an influential warlord in Yunnan, and is best known for his role in challenging the imperial ambitions of Yuan Shikai. Few other Nine-Lion swords are known as they were made in limited numbers and most were destroyed as part of the Cultural Revolution where their historical association with China’s pre-Revolutionary period was ill-appreciated. Now, there is a re-appraisal of the warlords and generals who carried these swords and their importance in Chinese history, and swords of this type are associated with some of the most momentous historical events in pre-WWII China. The sword remains in good condition, with all of the fittings and lions present, and much of the original gilding remaining. The grip, likewise, retains almost all of the original covering and triple twisted wire, and the inlaid glass eyes for the lion-head pommel. The blade has a number of dark spots and some pitting but retains its original form and shape with a deep fuller on both sides running around three-quarters of the length of the blade. The scabbard has since been painted black over the chrome covering, and one of the lions is now missing the very end of the tail. The sword retains its original general grade golden yellow knot, an exceptionally rare accouterment in its own right.
Overall, an exceptionally rare sword from an important period of Chinese history dating to the period 1915-1920.
Private American collection since 1945
Zhengfu Gongbao (Government Gazette). 1 March 1920. No. 1453