Place of Origin: China, Qing Dynasty
Date: 19th Century
Overall Length: 270mm
This fine and unusual Chinese eating trousse is made up of a straight jian-type knife, a pair of chopsticks and a toothpick/tongue scraper.
The knife’s hilt and scabbard are made from jichimu: which translates literally as ‘chicken-wing wood’ due to its fine tangential grain made up of purplish-brown lines that resemble feathers. It is an exceptionally rare and precious tropical hardwood in keeping with the overall high quality of this set.
The knife’s hilt is mounted top and bottom with repoussé silver fittings, having granulated backgrounds and raised flowers and foliage. The straight double-edged blade of diamond section shows a folded, layered construction. The chopsticks are made from bamboo, spliced with high quality white bone top-pieces and having the appearance of elephant ivory. The scabbard is mounted with a large silver repoussé throat-piece and chape, decorated with a complex arrangement of foliage surrounding a central pattern of eight whorls circling a disc with a central cross. The scabbard’s mouth is gilt-copper decorated with a key pattern, with an applied block to hold a suspension ring which retains the finely woven original blue suspension cord with a copper button. The suspension block has two Chinese characters, 喜卍, and appears to read wan (meaning ten thousand) which is often used synonymously with the word eternal. The rear of the scabbard shows a bone teardrop which, when removed, reveals the toothpick/scraper.
A similar knife in the Henri Moser collection is illustrated in Collection Henri Moser-Charlottenfels: Oriental Arms and Armour (1912), pl.XXXII, no.1070, and now part of the Bernisches Historisches Museum, Switzerland.
For further information about Chinese knives see item number 1.