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smiling bandit
10-02-2003, 08:34 AM
According to this book I'm readong, "1587, A Year of No Significance", a Liu T'ing, a Chinese army officer wielded a sword weighing 160 lbs or more.

I say this is total bull.

The source cited is Ming-shih 247.2806

From what I understand, most swords weighed a few pounds. Big ones weighed a little more.

China Guy
10-02-2003, 09:27 AM
Easily could be a problem with the translation. EG, the original was in ounces and the translation was in pounds.

Also could be using colorful language in the original that get's translated as literal. Romance of the Three kingdoms has a lot of this kind of stuff, don't take it too seriously.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 09:32 AM
A sword of 160 lbs?

Sounds like myth to me.

What type of sword was it exactly? Dao, Jiam? (does the source say?).

I'll give you averages here of functional swords (because there's no way in hell a 160 lb sword would be functional in any way shape or form except as a REALLY big and REALLY heavy paper weight ;) ).

European swords:

zwei-hander (two handed swords): ~ 7 lbs.
Longsword (langeschwert): ~ 2 to 3 lbs.
Rapier: ~2-3 lbs.

Eastern Blades:

Katana: ~ 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 lbs.
Odachi (Nodachi -a huge field sword): 4 to 6 lbs.

I'll double check my numbers (running from memory here) but I'm rather sure these are accurate.

smiling bandit
10-02-2003, 09:33 AM
Well, it bothers me when excellent books have monumentally stupid remarks like this in it. I would have though the author would have bothered to use some incredulity.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 09:35 AM
As China Guy points out, it may have bneen a translation error. Double chekc the source.

If it was 160 ounces rather than pounds that would equate to what, 10 lbs?

Sounds a little more plausible, but still rtaher unlikely. The extra weight would have made the wepaon more of a liability than an asset on the battlefield, unless he never actually used and just carried around for 'inspirational' purposes ;)

wet marble
10-02-2003, 09:51 AM
While 160 lbs does seem a bit excessive, some martial arts styles do use very heavy weapons. It is not uncommon to see weapons that weigh 30-40 lbs. Primarily, they are used to help one focus their chi.

http://site.netopia.com/bagua/weapons/view.nhtml?profile=weapons&UID=43

I bet the sword in that link has to weigh 20-30 lbs at least.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 10:02 AM
Perhaps they'll help you focus your chi, but they sure as heck are not going to help you on the field of battle.

Which is why I ask: what function did the sword serve? Was it purely for show, or did he intend to use it in combat?

Even large zweihander swords (sometimes 5 feet long) were light and well balanced weapons of war. Not just heavy pieces of steel.

Bongmaster
10-02-2003, 10:15 AM
Maybe it was ceremonial?

jovan
10-02-2003, 10:26 AM
The best way to be sure would be to go check the source. Anyone willing?

Anyway, while googling, I found this guy (http://stickyrice.itgo.com/hmongchina.html) who mentions:

Wu Pa Yia was selected to be the Hmong king. He was an educated man, and had great martial art skills. It is said that he carried a sword of 45.5 kg, which is about 100 lb. His sword is being kept in a museum in Jishou in Hunan province (p213).

This is close enough to the number to your value that I would discount it as an error. Bragging in the original source of the tidbit, yes, probably, but you run into people wielding massive weapons too often in Chinese litterature for this to be a mistake I think. (Although, he might have mistranslated the unit, simply replacing pound for the Chinese word.)

Now we need to send someone to Hunan to check that other guy's sword, I couldn't find pics online.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 10:45 AM
Damn, I'm having a hard time with 10 lbs for a sword (unless extremely well balanced, though the swords on the pictures I've seen -very falchion like- don't seem well balanced at all).

I just can't fathom a 100lb sword as being anything BUT a status symbol. In battle it would useless. I would bet good money no one using such a weapon would live through an engagement.

And forget duels. No chance there either.

Phage
10-02-2003, 11:14 AM
Hey, this guy pulled if off: http://guidesmedia.ign.com/guides/494/char/cloud.gif

Seriously, 160lbs is far too much for a sword. I can't see a Chinese man of that era weighing 160lbs himself, much less being able to heft it around with ease.

PatriotX
10-02-2003, 11:24 AM
Catties, in 'Outlaws of the Marsh', (a Chinese classic akin to Robin Hood), have a wide variance of corresponding weight, IIRC, from somewhere between 1/3lb to 1 1/3 lb. Depending upon translation the sword may've weighed as little as 40lbs. Once you account for exaggeration, the sword may well have weighed 20lbs.
Legendary General Kwan is said to've used a weapon, (named after him, a pole arm of sorts like a halberd), that weighed 80 catties. Now pole arms are a much different animal when it comes to weilding them, as they allow for more easily distrinuted 'body english' than a sword.

IIRC aren't there claymores that weighed around 50lbs?

PatriotX
10-02-2003, 11:28 AM
Catty (http://charm.ru/library/faq006.htm)

micco
10-02-2003, 11:29 AM
Could this be propoganda? I don't know about Liu T'ing specifically, but isn't the literature full of generals who were twelve feet tall, had a visible aura, or floated several inches above the ground? In making a general somewhat larger than life, an extraordinary weapon would be a typical device.

Mister Rik
10-02-2003, 11:46 AM
http://site.netopia.com/bagua/weapo...=weapons&UID=43

I bet the sword in that link has to weigh 20-30 lbs at least.
That guy must have had incredibly strong wrists.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 12:50 PM
Originally posted by SimonX

IIRC aren't there claymores that weighed around 50lbs?


Nope. More like 5-9 lbs.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by Phase42
That guy must have had incredibly strong wrists.

Well your traditional Bangua sword weighs about 4 pounds.

This thing must weigh in excess of 10 pounds easy. Although we don't know what it's made out of nor the width of the blade.

I recall watching those old kungfu flicks were the good guys rattled their blades and they flopped around like paper.

wet marble
10-02-2003, 02:09 PM
I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the swords you see in Kung Fu movies are props. = P

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 02:28 PM
Originally posted by wet marble
I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the swords you see in Kung Fu movies are props. = P

I'm not so sure. I have seen similar blades in kung-fu/eastern martial arts schools.

DocCathode
10-02-2003, 03:59 PM
Originally posted by SimonX


IIRC aren't there claymores that weighed around 50lbs?

Yes.

These were designed to break through a shield wall. You and your similarly armed comrades charged, swung once, and then immediatley dropped the claymores and drew regular swords.

wet marble
10-02-2003, 04:12 PM
Originally posted by Kinthalis
I'm not so sure. I have seen similar blades in kung-fu/eastern martial arts schools.

My brother collects swords and I've never seen one that can flop around and bend the way they do in the kung fu movies. Sure, I've seen the cheapo blades in kung fu schools. Usually they are right next to the wooden blades or bamboo blades. Those are used for practice and training. It would be pretty dangerous to give a beginning kung fu student a real sword with a nice sharp edge, so they use the imitation ones instead.

PatriotX
10-02-2003, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by Kinthalis
I'm not so sure. I have seen similar blades in kung-fu/eastern martial arts schools.

The ones you see in MA schools are called Wu Shu weapons. They are intentionally extra thin. They are different than 'traditional' MA weapons.

PatriotX
10-02-2003, 05:25 PM
Originally posted by DocCathode
Yes.

These were designed to break through a shield wall. You and your similarly armed comrades charged, swung once, and then immediatley dropped the claymores and drew regular swords.

Extra points for knowing what a shield wall is.

Kinthalis
10-02-2003, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by DocCathode
Yes.

These were designed to break through a shield wall. You and your similarly armed comrades charged, swung once, and then immediatley dropped the claymores and drew regular swords.

No, Claymores WERE used to break up shield walls, but no, they did not weigh 50 lbs!

This is pure fantasy!

Can you give a cite for your claim?

DocCathode
10-02-2003, 05:51 PM
Still looking for a cite.

The Philadelphia Museum Of Art does have some swords that back up my claim, but I can't find them on a web site.

Soapbox Monkey
10-02-2003, 06:45 PM
I suppose a sword of that size could be wielded, but not very well. In the game Dynasty Warriors, based loosely on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, there is indeed a warrior who wields an extremely heavy sword. He basically drags it along the ground and then swings around, slowly building up momentum with which to strike with his weapon. I'm assume that would be the only way to successfully wield a 160 lb. sword.

owlofcreamcheese
10-02-2003, 10:49 PM
he may of owned one, that doesn't sound too rediculus. worthless in battle but an extremely dramatic feat of strength. sort of a party trick to show off your strength. sounds reasonable to me.

Valgard
10-03-2003, 12:00 AM
While I'm not a professor of ancient weaponry I'll take a strong stance and cry "Piffle!" on this one.

One of my friends collects medieval weaponry, his walls are hung with a collection of cutlery ranging from tiny stilettos to a greatsword nearly 6 feet long.

As someone pointed out earlier, one-handed and hand-and-a-half swords weigh in at around 2-5 pounds, depending on exact models (this is for European swords, however it's not like anyone else was using depleted uranium or something for blades). My friend's greatsword is just about 7 pounds. I've handled all these weapons and anyone who thinks that they're going to pick up a proper greatsword and swing it about like it's a foil is in for a bit of a shock - physics really gets in the way. Peter used to have fun taking some of these to the local game store and inviting folks to see what their barbarian warrior character was actually hefting.

IIRC, greatswords used a lot of chopping and thrusting moves; their added length is an advantage there, you can put a few inches of steel into somebody's gut before they get within swinging distance. It's easier to move a long weapon that way, rather than a full swing.

If you want to see some nice photos of modern replicas, along with actual weights, check out the Museum Replicas catalog online at museumreplicas.com. Towards the end of the swords section you'll see some Big Cutlery including a Scottish claymore and a greatsword that are probably what a lot of folks think of when they imagine those weapons. These are both in the 5-7 pound range.

For anyone who still thinks that people were running about battlefields with 50 pound swords, try this simple test: Go down to your local YMCA and step over to the bench press. Unload the bar, then grab it at one end with both hands, like it's a sword. An Olympic bar weighs 45 pounds. Try to lever it up. Now imagine swinging it all day, and trying to out-fight somebody armed with a 3 pound sword - you'd get cut to ribbons.

That's not to say that people didn't make some enormous weapons, but I'll bet that those were basically wall-hangers and ceremonial display items, not actual combat equipment.

Dogface
10-03-2003, 12:09 AM
We need to remember that the line between "history" and "legend" can get pretty faint in traditional sources.

dakravel
10-03-2003, 01:13 AM
Especially in terms of Chinese history. There's something 4000 years of it, and a lot of stuff is both legend and history, and so given the long time ago it happened, it can be hard to discern truth from reality. For example, Mulan, which is a folk story, and more recently a crappy Disney movie, is also actually true history. There was a girl named Hua Mu Lan who joined the army and did some stuff. I don't remember what she did, but the point is that in Chinese culture there are folk tales, and there are history, and in some cases those coincide, and it's hard to tell fact from artifice and hyperbole.

Urban Ranger
10-03-2003, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Kinthalis
No, Claymores WERE used to break up shield walls, but no, they did not weigh 50 lbs!

This is pure fantasy!

Can you give a cite for your claim?

You sure as heck can't breakthrough a shield wall with 7 lb weapons when tower shields are heavier.

UncleBill
10-03-2003, 07:17 AM
I can think of one very good reason to have such a large sword. 516 years later he is still being talked about. How many other Chinese officers from the 14th century have open GQ threads?

UncleBill
10-03-2003, 07:43 AM
Or 16th Century, even.


Must not post before coffee

Kinthalis
10-03-2003, 10:42 AM
Originally posted by Urban Ranger
You sure as heck can't breakthrough a shield wall with 7 lb weapons when tower shields are heavier.

I think you are underestimating what a 7lb zweihander sword can do in the hands of a skilled swordsman.

50 lb sword were simply not used in the battlefield, period.

smiling bandit
10-03-2003, 12:16 PM
I suppose a sword of that size could be wielded, but not very well. In the game Dynasty Warriors, based loosely on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, there is indeed a warrior who wields an extremely heavy sword. He basically drags it along the ground and then swings around, slowly building up momentum with which to strike with his weapon. I'm assume that would be the only way to successfully wield a 160 lb. sword.

But, you'd swing it so slowly it wouldn't hurt anyone. I mean, you're best bet would be to hand to your opponent!

I'm afraid I don't read Mandarin, so the Ming-shih itself is unavailable to me.

We need to remember that the line between "history" and "legend" can get pretty faint in traditional sources.

Well, posibley, but I *think* the Ming-shih was compiled by the literary-bureaucrat class. And these annals, if they are what I think they are, were compiled from sources that talked about the general directly, and only a few years before.

The guy who wrote the book i took it out of (1587, a year of no significance) is Chinese and took it from the Ming-shih. He published the book in English in England, and I doubt he would have mixed up ounces and pounds and not noticed. His writing is excellent. Regardless, the text makes clear that he though the translation was 160 lbs, not ounces or anything. He was astonished by the weight.

Finagle
10-03-2003, 01:06 PM
I suppose you might have a 160 lb sword for ceremonial or execution purposes. (You execute someone with a 160 lb sword and they stay dead.) But it would be as utterly useless on the battlefield as my Delta drill press (which also weighs about 160 lbs).

Mobility would be a big issue. Just getting the damned thing to the battlefield would leave you knackered. And even assuming that you had lackeys and/or wagons to haul the thing around, it would be a pretty clumsy opponent who couldn't outrun you long enough to leave you exhausted once you started fighting.

How big would a 160lb sword be? Let's assume it was made out of steel. According to one site on the internet, 1 lb of steel is 3.5 cu. inch. Assuming the sword is 6 feet long and uniform, you get unlikely possibilities for the width and thickness. Assume a half inch thickness, the blade is something like 16 inches wide. Not real sharp, then. More like hitting someone with an I-beam. If you a ssume something with an actual cutting edge, maybe 1/4 inch of thickness, and you end up with a 10 foot sword with a blade 1 1/2 feet wide. Really, this isn't a swordfight, it's a caber toss.


(Using the same density for a claymore weighing 7 lbs, I get a six foot blade, 1/8 thick, and 2.7 inches wide -- certainly in the ballpark.)

Valgard
10-03-2003, 02:03 PM
Originally posted by Kinthalis
I think you are underestimating what a 7lb zweihander sword can do in the hands of a skilled swordsman.

50 lb sword were simply not used in the battlefield, period.

Agreed. Also, "Breaking through a shield wall" doesn't literally mean hacking shields to pieces, it means breaking the formation and getting inside where you can do some damage. Same thing with breaking through a pike wall, it isn't necessary to actually chop pikeheads off poles, it's just necessary to get past the wall of sharp points - once inside and at close quarters, the pikes are worthless and swords become much more effective. Destroys the defensive value of the formation and more attackers pour into the gap.

xejkh
10-04-2003, 11:35 AM
It's probably the units used, though in this case Mr. Liu would still be a very strong man.

Though the same units were used, their definitions actually changed over the dynasties. When they record so-and-so's height as 8 foot, it doesn't necessarily mean that they played for some ancient Chinese equivalent of the NBA.

From a dictionary I have (don't ask me how accurate are these numbers):

Length:
chi3 ("foot"): 22.5 cm (by c. AD 0), 23.04 cm (c. AD 200), 24.12 (c 300), 24.45 (c 400), 29.51 (c 600), 31.1 (c 900), 30.72 (c 1300), 31.1 (c 1600), 32 (c 1900), 33.3 (informal unit used in China)

The Chinese length system was metric, so 10 cun4 ("inches") made a chi, 10 chi made a zhang4 and so on.

Another unit is the li3 ("mile"). It was 405m, 414.42m, 434.16m, 440.1m, 531.18m, 559.8m, 552.96m, 559.8m, 576m, and now it is 500m (the units correspond to the time periods given above.).

Mass
jin1 ("pound"): 256g, 222.73g, 222.73g, 222.73g, 668.19g, 596.82g, 596.82g, 596.82g, 596.82g, 500g.

1 jin = 16 liang3.

Tamerlane
10-04-2003, 01:19 PM
smiling bandit: Are you enjoying the book otherwise? I have a used copy on my shelf, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

- Tamerlane

drhess
10-17-2003, 12:17 PM
Originally posted by wet marble
While 160 lbs does seem a bit excessive, some martial arts styles do use very heavy weapons. It is not uncommon to see weapons that weigh 30-40 lbs. Primarily, they are used to help one focus their chi.

http://site.netopia.com/bagua/weapons/view.nhtml?profile=weapons&UID=43

I bet the sword in that link has to weigh 20-30 lbs at least.

That's likely under 10lbs. Maybe even just 6-8 lbs. First of all, the guy is little. Second, the sword is common in Bagua and usually weighs 5 lbs.

Kinthalis
10-17-2003, 12:34 PM
Wow, talk about ressurrections.

Another quick point:


Someone mentioned the posibility of a very heavy sword perhaps being used to executions... why?

Specially when a lighter sword (in the hands of a skilled swordsman) can do the job just as easy. I'd even wager that using a heavier sword would only make the execution more messy and less likely to kill the target in the first blow (as I can't imagine someone having great control over a 100 lb chunk of steel!).

owlofcreamcheese
10-17-2003, 03:27 PM
it still doesn't sound wacky to me. if they say he owned one he probobly did. there are plenty of people that can lift that much, just carrying it around when trying to show off, or even hanging it on his wall isn't so crazy. its pretty standard that generals and such have weapons that are showy and not used, thats why there are swords with gold and gems and stuff used in them. its not for a weapon, but so what... if I'm a general I won't be out fighting people personally, my job is to tell people what to do and be inspireing. if I can make myself look powerful by carrying around a useless giant sword, then I would even if all I can do is lift it and hold it, or hang it somewhere.

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