A set of Chinese pole arms
Southern China – Qing Dynasty – 19th century
Materials: Steel, wood, brass
A magnificent set of Chinese pole arms including a ‘tiger fork’ (虎叉), ‘crescent moon spade’ and javelin.
Besides the fact that these pole arms found their origin in early Chinese history, they were not exclusively used in ancient times. They were often used by martial arts practitioners who practiced Kung Fu and mastered the handling of similar weaponry throughout the 19th century and still even today.
The ‘fork’ (叉):Often this type is referred to ‘tiger fork’ (hǔchā, 虎叉). The trident is used all over the world. As a weapon, a fishing tool or as spiritual symbol. In China, the trident is included as one of the ‘Eighteen weapons of Wushu’ and called ‘叉’ (fork). This particular trident or fork was designed to defend against tigers in village communities. The old examples were well made and consist of a diamond cross section central spike, accompanied by two crescent shaped spikes on both sides forged together. On the mid section of the shaft is a multi-faceted knob which is typically seen on Chinese and Vietnamese arms.
The ‘cresent moon spade’ (Yuechan 月铲) :
Originally designed to dismount cavalry men, but also perfectly designed to un-arm fugitives and bandits. The weapon is commonly known as ‘Yuechan‘ ,’crescent moon spade‘ or ‘monk spade‘ and comes in two forms; the crescent moon shape, which is riveted to the shaft and the movable crescent moon with sharp hooks on both ends. The latter is listed here.
In China’s religious culture, the ‘monk spade‘ was carried by monks as a peaceful tool to be used in ritual funerals and to hold off wild animals while traveling. The traditional ‘monk spade’ is depicted with a shovel formed spade on the lower end and the crescent moon on top. A comparable pole arm is seen in Japan and is locally named ‘Gekken‘ which is a commonly mistaken name for the Chinese spade.
The javelin (Qiang 槍):
The ‘Qiang’ is a large double edged spear with slightly tapered medial ridge. The tip ends promptly and is sharpened on both sides. The spearhead is designed with two crescent tips near the base to prevent loss of the target. The socket of the spear is rather long stretched and decorated with a multi facetted middle part. The Qiang was used by the military, but also within militia’s and among Kung Fu practitioners well into the 20th century.
A fine set of three pole arms which were made by the same blacksmith and probably have been stalled in a large rack together with some others. The poles are marked with a scratch mark II,III and IIIII. A set which belongs together and are therefor not sold separately as I believe they should not be scattered any further. The forging was very well executed and all examples show signs of laminated forging and true craftsmanship.
Condition: Very well, some minimal signs of use and in cleaned and treated condition.
The crescent moon spade:
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