Place of Origin: CHINA
Date: Qing Dynasty (18th - 19th Century)
This straight knife is mounted with a pale green jade handle and short silver collar. The knife has a long slender blade of high quality steel, tapering towards the end to form a hatchet point (one edge of the blade’s tip being straighter than the other).
The scabbard’s throat-piece comprises a collar of bone painted green and black as if intended to resemble a dark spinach jade, as well as a gilt copper-alloy band engraved with a central flower flanked by outspreading leaves – a decorative motif which is repeated on the chape. A block applied to the reverse side of the scabbard is engraved at the top with a rectangular spiral pattern and pierced to hold a suspension ring. Below the central part of the block sits a small lobed plaque with an engraved flower at its centre. The scabbard itself has been cleverly carved into an unusual geometric design of connected circles that each enclose a kite-shaped carving – a pattern which is intended, perhaps, to give the appearance of interlocking flowers, or of carefully worked leather.
It is difficult to identify the precise symbolism or origin of this pattern, but it does appear in other Chinese works from the Qing dynasty, such as a cuirass preserved in the British Museum (As1921, 1029.1), where the same symbol sits at the centre of the breastplate between two lotuses painted in orange and yellow, perhaps confirming the likelihood that the scabbard’s pattern is floral.