from the Metropolitan Museum
f you enjoy Asian history and especially if you study it as part of the background to Chinese martial arts, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, is a place not to be missed. I've been there twice and the second was as if I'd hardly been the first time. There is so much to see and understand. I concentrated on antique weapons, especially those used by ancient Chinese warriors. I focussed on the Chinese ancient armor, with a view to making my reproduction gambesons even more authentic looking. There were some Chinese swords I'd never seen before - zhibeidao, the predecessors of the dao from the Ming and Qing dynasties martial artists are more familiar with.
As far as I know, I'm not infinging copyright to show you my Asian history pictures in the form of a slideshow. The public is allowed to take pictures in the Met, as long as we don't use flash. Some of you may wish to comment on one of the pictures via the article submission form on the Martial History page.
This is a close up of the sleeve from one of the permanent display pieces in the Asian Arms and Armour hall. Two Qing warriors are displayed, in full dingjia parade armour. One rides a horse with matching armour. The small studs were holding concave steel plates in place between two layers of cloth. These are high ranking officers. Ordinary soldiers wore much plainer armor.
This is an interesting piece of Asian history. It's a vise used by an armourer in the making of weapons. You can see from the wear on the top of the steel that this one has been well used.
Sometimes our best understanding of the weaponry we use for martial arts comes from the art of the period. This jian detail comes from a hand scroll by Zheng Zhong (act. ca. 1612-48). By studying many such examples some consistency of detail begins to emerge and our understanding grows. This is why serious martial artists have to visit lots of museums and do lots of research. If we want to speak with authority on the foundations of our art and know what our weapons should be like, we have to do the background study.