Warring States Period Knife Money Auction

This month sees the holding of the August 2014 Hong Kong Auction at the Mira Hong Kong Hotel. Making an appearance during Session A of this exciting event are four pieces of Warring States Period (475 – 221 B.C.) knife money from the state of Qi.

These cast bronze knives, resembling the shape of an old-fashioned barber’s razor, are typified by the number of characters inscribed on them. Qi knives come in three, four, five, or six-character types, and are most commonly found in the Shandong area. They are usually about 15-16 cm in length, and weigh between 20 g and 50 g. Large specimens are all thought to be particularly rare.

The highlight of these lots, appearing alongside the other three three-character knives, is an extremely rare five-character knife bearing the inscription “Ji Mo Zhi Fa Hua” – or Jimo’s legal money”. The knife is in fantastic condition, having only a few small deposits and a mild patina, and the characters remain remarkably legible.

Jimo, still a city in Shandong province in modern China, used to be part of the state of Qi during the Warring States Period. It was the site of a very famous battle in 283 B.C. between the states of Yan and Qi. Legend has it that the Qi troops garrisoned in Jimo were outnumbered ten to one. Under siege and with a mere several thousand troops, the general in command of the city was able to defeat the much larger forces of Yan using a bizarre strategy – coincidentally using knives. Knowing he would never defeat the Yan forces in a pitched battle, the general gave the order that knives should be tied to the horns of a thousand oxen, and wood be strapped to their backs. In the dead of night, the cunning general then commanded the unfortunate beasts to be set alight, and driven towards the besieging Yan army who were still in their beds. The carnage which followed resulted in the burning of the camp and the trampling of many enemy soldiers. In the chaos which ensued, the smaller Qi force was able to defeat the besieging army of Yan.

Live bidding for these lots will begin on the 18th August 2014 at 10am Chinese Standard Time. See http://www.stacksbowers.com/BrowseAuctions/LotDetail.aspx?AuctionID=6023&Lot=40455&LotID=371952 for more information about bidding on these pieces of knife money.