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This offering is a pair of bronze daggers from the ancient Ba culture. They date to the Warring States period (475-221 BC). The Ba people are thought to have inhabited the vast area which today encompasses southern Shaanxi, Hubei and eastern Sichuan provinces and Chongqing Municipality. Depending on sources, the Ba are thought to have existed as a unique culture from as early as the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC) to the end of the Warring States period (221 BC).
They were famous for their bravery and their reputation for being great warriors but the Ba people were also very mysterious. The Ba culture has remained an enigma, mainly because of a lack of related archaeology evidence and the fact that they left no written record of their culture. Their only form of writing is found in a panoply of unique designs. Some are stylized depictions of animals, such as the famous Ba tigers, while others were interesting geometric designs.
The History of the Eastern Han depicts the totems and origins of the Ba people and their first king Lin Jun. Many historians regard it as an important source for solving Ba mysteries. The book says, "After Lin Jun died, his soul turned into a white tiger. The later Ba generations watered it with human blood and offered human bodies as sacrifices for it." This gives written evidence that the ancient Ba people took the white tiger as their totem and thought it to be their ancestors. In the minds of the ancient Ba people, the white tiger was the same as their ancestors and that's why the custom of offering sacrificial humans to the tiger was handed down. The Tiger was worshipped as the god of fighting and killing and oversaw the weapons and wars of mankind. After the Han unification, the Ba Tiger continued to be a central cultural icon.
The first dagger is the largest measuring almost 30 cm while the second, smaller dagger is approximately 26.5 cm. The larger dagger has one of the Ba’s mysterious geometric designs molded or carved into both sides of the blade. There is a repair to the tip of this dagger. The smaller dagger has a depiction of the famous Ba tiger on both sides of the blade. It has a repair to the handle and a break to the tip that is not attached or repaired. This dagger was covered in epoxy resin (from a very crude repair) when I first purchased it. I have since removed (carefully) most of the epoxy and have done nothing else to the piece. Both daggers were purchased from the estate of the Late John Piscopo and his original tags (including the lot number from the estate auction) will accompany the purchase. Decorated Ba weapons of any type are extremely rare and most are in museums. Each photo shows both daggers. There are closeups of the decorations that show each side of both daggers. These would be a valued addition to any ancient bronze collection.