Know your historical swords: The Goujian


The Goujian is an extremely fine example of the Jain-style, and is the most revered sword in China.

“Fifty year ago, a rare and unusual sword was found in a tomb in China. Despite being well over 2,000 years old, the sword, known as the Goujian, did not have a single trace of rust.  The blade drew blood when an archeologist tested his finger on its edge, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time.  Besides this strange quality, the craftsmanship was highly detailed for a sword made such a long time ago.  Regarded as a state treasure in China today, the sword is as legendary to the Chinese people as King Arthur’s Excalibur in the West.” (

I stumbled across this interesting article about a pretty incredible jian  sword, a double-edged straight sword, quite different from the later dao sword, a slashing weapon descended from the southeast Asian dha. 

As mentioned above, it is both an early and extraordinarily well-preserved jian. It is of cast bronze, with a tin-edge, along with traces of lead, iron, and sulfur compounds which are believed to contribute to the blade’s corrosion resistance.


It is also richly embellished and engraved. The article goes into detail deciphering the inscriptions.

“Researchers analyzed ancient bronze shards in the hope of finding a way to replicate the technology used to create the sword.  They found that the sword is resistant to oxidation as a result of sulphation on the surface of the sword. This, combined with an air-tight scabbard,  allowed the legendary sword to be found in such pristine condition.

Tests also show that the sword-smiths of the Wu and Yue regions in Southern China during the Spring and Autumn Period reached such a high level of metallurgy that they were able to incorporate rust-proof alloys into their blades, helping them survive the ages relatively unblemished.

It is a really interesting article (and site in general). Read the whole thing.


  1. AW1Ed says:

    Wow. Great find, Clay. Thanks for posting!

  2. I_Like_Pie says:

    Must have used froglube.

  3. Kevin76 says:

    Cool find, but I don’t get the reference to rust proof alloys. bronze and tin don’t rust iron and steel rusts. I’ve seen bronze tarnish and copper will turn green but not rust. Perhaps the reference to rust proof alloys actually means corrosion proof alloys?

    1. I agree, it was a little confused. I am guessing that it was confusion on the part of the author as to what exactly constitutes rust.

      Bronze will certainly oxidize to the point of complete disintegration.

      This blade has completely resisted oxidation and corrosion, which are the two correct terms (I believe), I used when describing the sword myself.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Know your historical swords: The Goujian

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email