China, Ming Dynasty, 1368 to 1644 CE. A stunning cast iron mace. The handle has a scallop-edged rounded knob; above this is a lion's head from whose mouth emerges the rest of the weapon: on a long, undecorated, cylindrical shaft, the mace terminates in the detailed talon of an eagle, complete with cast feathers and claws. Unlike a real eagle, which has four claws, this one has five, giving it a chimera, part-human part-beast appearance. Comes with custom stand. Size: 23.45" L x 3.25" W (59.6 cm x 8.3 cm); height on stand: 18.75" (47.6 cm)
The Ming period was one of great social unrest as well as warfare - the surviving portions of the Great Wall date from this dynasty, and it maintained a massive standing army both to defend against foreign enemies and police internal society. The rise of warrior monks and accompanying martial arts had begun in the centuries before, but during the Ming period, they began to codify their rules. This led to the creation of the first list of the Eighteen Weapons of Wushu, the list of weapons used by martial artists in hand-to-hand combat. The novel "Water Margin", written during this time and one of China's most popular works of fiction, lists the weapons, which includes maces like this one.
Provenance: private New Jersey USA collection, acquired over twenty years ago
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