The History and Cultural Significance of Chinese Jade

The jade works of China are probably China’s most famous form of artistic expression. Chinese jade is defined as any jade artefact created during the Neolithic period and onwards. Chinese jade has long been mined from four famous mines, perhaps the most famous of which is the Dushan mine in the Henan province. Dushan jade has been mined since the Shang dynasty and is now extremely rare. Dushan jade is known as Henan Nanyang Jade. The other most famous jades are Xinjiang Hetian jade, Shanxi Lantain Jade and Liaoning XiuYan Jade.[1] Despite the comparative fame of Dushan jade, Hetian jade is considered superior due to its density and wider variety of colours.[2]

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Distance with the longsword

Distance is a key topic in HEMA, and being able to manage distance is an essential skill for a fencer. However, there are a number of open questions regarding distance. What distance should we fight at? Should we fight from a long distance, or a short distance? If we advance towards the opponent, how do we judge when to attack them? Do we fight at the maximum distance we can, or do we try to get closer to the opponent?

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Sparring: not always the best training method to become better at sparring

This article marks the 150th post on Encased in Steel! We have been posting at least once a week since February 2011 without a break. If you appreciate our work, please share the blog with your friends and club mates, and help even more people to access and read our articles.

Keith and Ben facing off with sabres on the banks of Loch Lomond.

I have often come into contact with the idea that the best way to become good at sparring is to practice lots of sparring. This does have some kind of logic behind it: after all, the saying is: “practice makes perfect.” However, in my opinion, there are much better ways to become better at fighting than just sparring a lot. Certainly, plenty of sparring is important to the development of a martial artist, but training cleverly is better than training hard – as long as you work hard at training cleverly!

This article will seek to illustrate some of my thoughts about the issue.

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Cuir Bouille

Water hardened leather mask

Water hardened leather mask

This week’s article sets out to describe the research and development of the historical technique of forming leather through the application of water and heat, often referred to as Cuir Bouille. I was inspired to undertake this research due to mention in the Tournament Book of King Rene of Anjou (1460), of a helm being worn formed entirely of leather to participate in the tournaments of the day in Brabant, Flanders and Hanault.

“ Et quant à leurs armeures de teste, ont ung grant bacinet à camail sans visière, lequel ils atachent par le camail dessus la brigandine tout autour, à la poictrine, et sur les espaules à fortes agueilletes; et pardessus tout cela mettent ung grant heaulme fait d’une venue, lequel heaulme est voulentiers de cuir boully et pertuisé dessus, à la largeur d’ung tranchoires de bois, et la veue en est barrée de fer de trois dois en troys dois, lequel est seulement atachié devant à une chaesne qui tient à la poictrine de la brigandine, en façon que on le peult gester sur l’arczon de la selle pour soy refréchir, et le reprandre quant on veult. “

English Translation:

“And over all this they put a great helm made all in one piece of cuir bouilli and perforated below, the size of a wooden trencher, and the eyeslot is barred with iron in a grid three fingers square, which is attached in front by a chain to the breast of the brigandine, so that you may hang it from the saddle to refresh youself, and put it on again when you wish.”

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