twin swords

Twin swords known as 'yin yan qi xing jian', translated as 'twin seven stars sword', with black lacquer painted wooden grips surmounted with brass pommels, one of which has silk tassel attached. Hilts are decorated with moulded lion masks on guards, engraved leafy scroll work on pommels, and incised linear designs on grips. Hilts are flat on one side and convex on the other, so that the two swords can easily fit into one scabbard. Blade is of steel, straight, double-edged with central ridge, tapering to a point. Both sides of the blade are inlaid with seven brass dots depicting the seven stars or qi xing.

Swords of this type with seven brass dots inlaid on the blade are also called 'qi xing jian', or 'seven stars sword'. Such swords have been made since the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644). In China the seven stars, known in the West as the Big Dipper, were referred to as the Northern Ladle. These seven stars were said to represent the Emperor's carriage rotating around the centre of the universe. The constellation was said to govern the Four Directions, and to divide Yin from Yang. It determined the Four Seasons, balanced the Five Elements, regulated the divisions of time and so on. See p.265, Zhou Wei (1957), 'Zhongguo bing qi shi gao', Beijing.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: