Though extremely popular in movies, pop culture and the martial arts, Chinese swords have always been slightly less popular than Japanese or European models among collectors. The Chinese designs that are available in the market are enjoyed by many, but there seems to be a popular belief that they are less suited for combat than sword from other cultures. The common perception of Chinese swords seems to be that they are thin, rather flimsy, and used with very flashy (but ineffective) moves.
This is a misconception that Chinese sword collector turned sword designer Garrett Chan has resolved to change.
From the man himself:
“As a sword collector, I saw the relative abundance of quality European and Japanese swords. I wondered why, despite the popularity of Chinese martial arts, there was such a misrepresentation of Chinese swords. Everything I saw was a fantasy design, so light and flimsy you could wear it as a belt, or so heavy that no sane person would want to use it…with variations in between. It’s been that way since Wushu (a contemporary performance oriented art) became a widespread phenomenon. The techniques in Wushu called for light swords that made sounds and moved noticeably. Since then thin bladed flexible swords have become the norm for Chinese martial arts. In fact it’s been that way for so long that some people believe that those are what Chinese swords actually are like! I can’t even begin to count how many people have been surprised by the fact that a jian can sever limbs with ease. I believe that now is the time to reverse that trend.”
Chan has, with this in mind, started the Jin-Shi Trading Co., a manufacturer of Chinese swords based on actual ancient designs.
Using antiques as a starting point in terms of weight, balance and geometry, Chan designs modern recreations with exacting standards. He not only uses antiques for his designs, but period-accurate writings as well (including a Ming Dynasty military manual). Some of the antiques that Jin-Shi low and mid range swords are based on are actually in Chan’s personal collection, so they are reproduced accurately down to the fittings! The higher end swords are based on other antiques that are in much larger (and more expensive) collections elsewhere in the world. He has decided, though, to have some modern interpretations of the fittings and style, allowing for contemporary influence in form without losing the historically accurate functionality
Ten Thousand Year Warranty:
“In Imperial China, we would be subject to cruel and unusual punishment if our swords failed on the battlefield. In the 21st century, we offer a lifetime guarantee on sword failure. Our guarantee is transferable and is valid as long as Jin Shi is around to honour it. We do not anticipate going out of business any time soon.”
Jin Shi focuses on Chinese Swords targeted to people who simply want a sword that functions, feels, and looks like a sword that would have been used back in the good old days – at a reasonable price. Something that a historical fighting man or woman could trust to do the job when necessary.
Product offerings include various swords that they feel are representative of the specific time period. Custom work is accepted on a per case basis.
Entry level and medium end swords will be primarily made from T10 Tool steel, with 56/57 HRC and a semi-mirror hand polish. The medium end swords will be the same, but with cast fittings, better mirror polish and high end woodwork. High end swords will be forge folded steel (1050, 1065) with a hardness of 56/57 HRC for cutting edge, low 40’s HRC for parrying surfaces. There will also be a host of other options, including mirror polish/waterstone polish option and more.
More details to follow as their website is updated.
The current issue with Jin Shi Swords is one thing – availability - as the company is on a temporary hiatus.
To sum up, from their website:
July 1, 2013 – Due to the continuing popularity of our swords and ever longer wait times, we are no longer accepting orders until further notice. You may however drop us an email to be put onto a waiting list to be notified when swords become available. Stay tuned for more news.
Otherwise, they are currently only rarely available on the secondary sword market – though few people who own one actually want to let it go…
I hope this information on JinShi Swords has been helpful. To return to the Sword Manufacturers Dossier from JinShi Swords, click here