The well-known Waist sword of Bonan Ethnic Group

The iron forging industry is a kind of major traditional handicraft production of Bao’an nationality, and occupies a quite important position in the whole economic life of Bao’an nationality. In the places that Bao’an nationality lives in, almost every household has a blacksmith. Some of them cultivate land during half of one year and forge iron during the other half year, when farm work is busy, they are engaged in the farm work, when farm work is not busy, they are engaged in iron forging. Some of them specially live on iron forging, and make money by forging iron in the local area, or the Tibetan communities in Qinghai and the southern part of Gansu.

The iron products of Bao’an nationality are in a great variety, including almost all kinds of production utensils and articles for daily use. Among them, the production and sales volume of waist swords is the largest, approximately accounting for 80% to 90% of the total volume of iron products.

Bao’an waist swords are a kind of traditional handicraft of Bao’an nationality, and are rather famous in the northwestern regions. They are in a great variety, the comparatively more famous types are “Shiyangmian”, “Shuangluo”, “Yawuqi”, “Bianqiao”, “Manba”, “Xiluo”, “Boriji” and “Shuangdao”, etc. Their specifications are mostly in three types: 5 cun, 7 cun and 10 cun. The manufacturing technology is very complex, the process is from 30 or 40 steps to more than 80 steps. Generally, firstly repeatedly forge the chosen iron, then split it and add steel, and finally quench it and get it finished. The surfaces of sword are generally carved with the patterns of stars, plum blossoms, steam boat ball, the dancing phoenix and double dragons playing with pearls, extremely lifelike. For the sword handles, generally black or white ox horn with delicate luster, or various kinds of rigid plastics and celluloid are taken as raw materials, and they are inlaid with brass, red copper or galvanized iron wire as hoops or decoration, polished smooth and shining, exquisite beyond compare. For the sword scabbards, generally brass or tinplate is chosen as raw materials to forge the outer shell, filled with wood inside to protect the sword edge.

The Bao’an waist swords are manufactured with exquisite technology, the styles are unique and beautiful, and the sword edges are sharp, couple hardness with softness. They are not only deeply liked by the people of Bao’an nationality, but also are in a great demand in all places in northwestern China.