Swords

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Swords

Unread postby laojim » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:18 am

Just a thought. I have been watching a Korean drama about the kingdom of Puyo, which may be fictitious, which was having some difficulty with the Han. In this tale there is much talk of making swords of steel, which the Han produced but which the local iron workers could not duplicate. There is nothing much in the script about the time except that the Han are said to be off fighting the Yao people of the South. None of the kingdoms usually referenced as the three kingdoms of Korea are mentioned. There is, however, references to the three legged bird which was an emblem of one of those kingdoms.

The question is, does anyone know if the Han had developed swords of steel. I recall a few scenes from the television Three Kingdoms in which the Han cast swords and some references to making swords, such as the swords that the boys made just after their oaths in the peach grove. I do not recall any reference to steel swords in that period.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby Aaron.K » Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:33 am

The swords by this point in time would have indeed been "steel" based on their carbon content. The Han had (at the time of Liu Bang) initially still been using cast bronze swords, which were of excellent quality, much superior to that of the iron swords which were just starting to become developed. Iron was used because the swords could be made much longer than the bronze ones.

However by the Three Kingdoms period, and even the later Han, the swords were most certainly steel. They were created using the blast furnace, initially to make cast iron, but the process was further developed into making low carbon steel. Compared to steels of today, it's not all that spectacular of a metal, but at that point in time they were clearly made of a much more superior alloy than the swords of the past. They utilized clay for differential heat treatment, and most swords were created through forge welding and lamination (which was later introduced into Japan, and is the process that many people say makes katana so superior. That in itself is a load of bunk, but the crafting process at the time was highly advanced).

The rigid cross section of daos was also developed at this time, making daos much more sturdy and robust. The Han also introduced using ray skin for making grips (ray skin giving an exceptional grip to the sword even if your hands are sweaty. Much better than leather or cord wrapped handles would), and by the Three Kingdoms period there is some evidence that suggests that Wootz steel from India was being introduced as well. Wootz steel being exceptionally high quality of the time, although today it is still not as comparable to modern homogenous steels. It really is something special though. Wootz is also what is deemed in the west as "Damascus steel".

Here's some videos which might be interesting in regards to Wootz steel:

(Note, Richard Furrer has quite a lot of knowledge of sword smithing. It is one of my dreams to own a sword made by him).

Breaking Wootz Steel Part 1
Breaking Wootz Steel Part 2
Breaking Wootz Steel Part 3

And then finally:

Secrets of the Viking Sword (Which in itself might not make sense, but Richard Furrer makes a viking style blade using Wootz crucible steel. It's more to see how such a blade made with such a steel performs. Note that this is about an hour in length).
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Re: Swords

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:37 am

After Googling for a time (I was trying to figure out who the heck the Yao were), it sounds like you are watching Jumong from your description? He was active around like 40 BC or so, just to give you a time frame to work with based on Aaron K's response.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby laojim » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:34 am

Zyzyfer wrote:After Googling for a time (I was trying to figure out who the heck the Yao were), it sounds like you are watching Jumong from your description? He was active around like 40 BC or so, just to give you a time frame to work with based on Aaron K's response.


I am sorry to put you to the trouble. Yes, that is the program. I assume that it is largely fiction with a few historical touch points. I could not even find evidence of a kingdom called Puyo. The swords come into this complicated story because the Puyo craftsmen are trying to make a steel sword as strong as those of the Han, the secret of which the Han will not share. This is a common motif of Korean dramas, stealing technology from the Chinese or developing despite them. The sword making is moved to a nearby tribal area where it is successful...and so on....

I may have misremembered the name of the Yao, Yi, or some such. At one point it is stated in the story line that those southern people had been defeated and word has just come from Chang An the Liaodong army was on the way to fight against Puyo, a trip that surely would have take weeks, at least, even for the message to arrive. In the telling this happens with astonishing speed.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:28 am

Oh it wasn't a hassle, I was just mainly curious about the time period and all.

Buyeo Kingdom

Calling it a kingdom is a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a proto-kingdom. I don't want to spoil the drama for you - the link will do that plenty - so that's all I'll say, really.

There is very little chance of a great many events in the drama having a proper historical basis. The Samguksagi which is basically Korea's Sanguozhi is riddled with discrepancies, especially that early on, but I reckon it makes for good TV regardless.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby laojim » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:17 am

Zyzyfer wrote:Oh it wasn't a hassle, I was just mainly curious about the time period and all.

Buyeo Kingdom

Calling it a kingdom is a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a proto-kingdom. I don't want to spoil the drama for you - the link will do that plenty - so that's all I'll say, really.

There is very little chance of a great many events in the drama having a proper historical basis. The Samguksagi which is basically Korea's Sanguozhi is riddled with discrepancies, especially that early on, but I reckon it makes for good TV regardless.


Without going back to episode 1 I can't recall the exact wording but it is stated that this is all part of prehistory or something of the sort. I don't think it is Buyeo as that was apparently thought of as a land of barbarians, and are usually depicted as such. Puyo, on the other hand, is depicted as a well organized monarchical state surrounded by small tribal states and having one border on a Han Commandary.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:36 am

Heh.

Like I said, I don't want to spoil the drama for you. But I read the various Wikipedia entries and I am 98% certain (one must always leave some room for doubt) that it's the same Buyeo. Only click on the spoiler if you already know how the drama will end...but I can tell you are pretty early on in the series given the story arc.

Jumong eventually goes on to found the kingdom of Goguryeo. If you view this link and scroll down to Goguryeo's foundation myth, it states that Jumong was either related to a prince or actually a prince of Buyeo. I doubt a Korean production would make a story about part of the founding myth of Korea based on a bunch of barbarians. :lol:


Also, I am just guessing, but the Pu (푸) in Puyo (푸요) does not really strike me as a syllable that occurs naturally in the Korean language. In all of my experience with hearing Korean, it is a sound that comes up only with loan words from other languages. Bu (부) Yeo (여) however, rolls right off the tongue.

The problem is that Korean has a couple of different Romanization systems in play, just like Chinese. Puyo looks about right for the old system, which all the historians tend to favor, but Buyeo is how it would be Romanized according to the current government policy. Just like the old spelling for Korea's second-biggest city was once Pusan (Poo Mountain yay), but now is Busan. And die-hards who spell it Pusan insist on it being correct, PIFF (Pusan Int'l Film Festival) will never become BIFF, etc.

I have babbled on entirely too much!
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Re: Swords

Unread postby laojim » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:27 am

I think I can guess the outcome but it's interesting to see how they get there. I see that there was a king Daeso or Taeso who ruled Dongbuyeo around about year 0. Elsewhere it says that our hero, the brother of Taeso, known here as Jumong, was the founder of Goguryo, which explains the story line about the three legged crow appearing to the Sorceress.

It is all reminiscent of what used to be known as the Aryan banishment and return story, about which reams of paper have been printed in the nineteenth century. It was a story formula in folklore studies in which a hero is, in one way or another banished but who later returns after doing heroic deeds and rising in power. An outline summary can be found at http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogs ... rmula.html It is out of favor these days, perhaps just because there has been so much nonsense written about the Aryans, assuming they existed at all, but the name has stuck. Jumong fits many, but not all of the points made in the summary on that web site.
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Re: Swords

Unread postby Gilbert » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:57 am

The only real choice for any kind of Chinese blades for years has been the Hanwei Forge, and while they certainly do offer some great swords, many serious Chinese blade collectors feel that there is 'something missing' from their offerings..

One of these collectors was Canadian Garrett Chan, but instead of just complaining, he decided to do something about it. Working closely with a Chinese forge, Garrett created his own company - Jin Shi Trading - and in the last few years has gained a very loyal following in the Chinese Sword community for exemplary customer service and exceptional products.
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