A Silver Phoenix Guom
Vietnam, Nguyễn Dynasty – 19th century
Materials: Silver, Steel, Buffalo Horn (Bubalis arnee Bubalis), Wood, Mother of Pearl
With the colonizing of Vietnam by the French in 1802, the European influence on Vietnamese weapons began. The typical D-shaped guards and lion head pommels were gradually introduced in the beginning of the 19th century. The official governmental status of emperor was purely ceremonial and so was its court. A type of sword which is commonly seen during this period is the ‘Guom’ (劍), which was inspired by the colonial cavalry swords, but fitted in the most precious materials. These swords were carried by officers and guards of the nobility during daily routines, ceremonies and parades.
High rank officers carried special parade sabers which were finely decorated with mother of pearl inlays and silver fittings. The hilts were often made of ivory, molar tooth, brass or horn and pommels were made of casted silver or silvered bronze.
Some blades were purely ceremonial, which could even be made of brass, but in some occasions functional sabre blades with tempered steel were used. In even more rare occasions, French imported blades could be mounted on traditional hilts.
Of unique form with a fine combination of excellent quality fittings and mother of pearl inlay. An actual functional blade and fine hilt.The silver guard which is depicting a mythical ‘Phoenix‘ is very well made with detailed beak, wings and tail. The hollow silver body has wings functioning as hand guard while the tail ends up in the pommel functioning as knucklebow.
Strong and functional, European in style with a single fuller on both sides. Slightly curved towards the tip. Decorated with typical Vietnamese floral decoration on the forte and on the tip of the blade. The forte has a silver ferrule which is commonly known in Chinese as ‘Toungku‘, which was originally shaped as a dragons mouth, but was more stylistically shaped in later periods.
Consisting of two pieces of hardwood with a very fine quality mother of pearl inlay combined with high quality silver fittings. The silver fittings are embossed by hand and depicts a cockerel, cranes and a parrot surrounded with floral motives and foliage. The shell inlay is very well done, with quality carved pieces depicting floral vines accompanied by squirrels. The first two fittings have small suspension rings attached.
Condition: Excellent, Very fine quality and some minimal ware on the blade consumable to its age. All pieces intact and in excellent order. The Phoenix tail has two minor cracks. A piece which is probably unique since there hasn’t been found a comparable example, nor in books, nor in known collections discovered by me today.
Blade length: 76.5cm
Blade spine thickness: 5mm
Total length: 95cm
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