Dragon King Jian Longsword
Rooted deeply in Chinese culture going back to the Neolithic age and first finding expression during the Shang and Zhou dynasties as a monster mask on bronze ritual vessels, the legend of the taotie still manifests in modern cutlery on eating utensils and plates. The Taotie (gluttonous monster) consumes permissively and according to myth eventually human flesh. Punished by the gods for his overindulgence, as a warning to others the gods took away his body and jaw so all he can do was eat constantly, leaving nothing but a head and gaping mouth.
The artisans of Dragon King conceived this new take on this ancient warning in the form of the Taotie Jian. The classic zoomorphic head motif is featured embossed on the pommel and the guard. The 37 3/4" blade's 7" ricasso (3/8" thick at base!) reinforces the overall strength for powerful thrusts and blocks. The 12 1/2" wood core handle is pristinely thin cord wrapped which allows for an easy grip for a 51 1/2" long sword. A black lacquered scabbard with matching accents secures this beast.
Beyond the Specs
At an initial glance, the Taotie Jian might seem very plain. From a distance you see earth tones of brown, black and gray. Usually with swords it is the larger features like the blade or the hamon or the guard or even the handle wrap that stands out when looking at the piece. These are what we call the “fireplace mantle talking points” that the owners point out. Up close the Taotie Jian is quite striking and detailed in the theme. With the Taotie Jian it is the small and subtle details that make this sword quite the collectible.
If you have read the product copy, you know that the Taotie is one of the 4 evil creatures of the world from Chinese folklore. The vile son of the Yellow Emperor who is punished for his greedy and gluttonous and insatiable ways, his jaw was removed by the gods, so he is always consuming, never satisfied. Depictions of the taotie are often found in the bottom of bowls in China as warning of overindulgence or gluttony. The subtlety of the theme is the overall point of the piece, because with all vices they grow until they ultimately consume you if not curtailed by self-control.
The Taotie Jian reflects the subtle consumption that grows and grows. The pommel of the handle features a depiction of the taotie. Over the course of consuming the long handle you come to the large guard where the taotie is more elaborate and more ornate. Beyond the guard extends the ¾” thick blade that tapers down to a point. As stated, at a distance you cannot see it. After studying the piece of up close and putting some thought into the theme, it is quite the clever piece. We wouldn’t expect anything less from Dragon King founder Frenchie Jin.
- Patrick "The Sword Guy"