Southern Chinese

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A small copper sword guard with Daoist symbols on both sides.

On one side are representations of the 'Eight Trigrams' of the I-ching, known in China as 'bagua'. This is one of the oldest classical texts, believed to have been written in the Western Zhou of the 8th to 10th century B.C. The trigrams symbolize eight changing states in the world through Yin and Yang.

On the other side are very artistic representations of two Roosters (fenghuang). One of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, the Rooster (or Phoenix) is a Chinese symbol of honesty, as well as physical and moral fortitude. From the Jiaqing era (1522–66) of the Qing dynasty onwards, a pair of phoenixes was differentiated by the tail feathers of the two birds, typically together forming a closed circle pattern—the male identified by five long serrated tail feathers or "filaments" (five being an odd, masculine, or yang number) and the female by what sometimes appears to be one but is in fact usually two (an even number) curling or tendrilled tail feathers (even number being feminine, or yin number).

4.60cm x 5.00cm x 0.30cm


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A Collaboration of Robert E. Haynes and Elliott D. Long

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