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Sword of Nurhaci (Taizu of Qing)

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Final years of the Ming Dynasty (c. 1595)

Made of a compound of materials such as steel and copper. A total length of 80.5 cm. A blade of 58.3 cm long and 3.1 cm wide. A handle of 19 cm long with its head 8.3 cm wide, and its handle knob of 3.2 cm long and 9.9 cm wide.

It is a double-edged steel sword, with a bronze sword handle, and a sword head shaped like a begonia. It has been sharpened, with chiseled patterns such as celestial officials, deer, and cranes. It has a handle wrapped with an ox’s horn. The sword handle knob is also made of bronze, with its middle part sharpened and chiseled with jade rabbit and cloud patterns, while its both sides are in the shape of a dragon head. The scabbard is wrapped with a bronze sheet and seven bronze hoops, with both sides of the middle part wrapped by shark skins and inlaid with gilded bronze sheets shaped like hornless dragons and openwork flowers. The decorative patterns have meanings such as “promotion in official post and salary raise” and “auspice presented by the jade rabbit”. This sword was possibly bestowed to Nurhaci by the Ming imperial court when he was appointed the General of Dragons and Tigers in 1595 during the reign of Emperor Wanli. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, a leather belt was added to the sword, with inscriptions that read “an imperial sword used by Emperor Taizu, originally collected with reverence in Mukden” and other words written in Mandarin Chinese and Manchu.