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Alleluia

Buying a sword in Beijing and taking it back home...

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Alleluia

This is probably a very strange sounding topic, but I am thinking of buying a Chinese sword as a birthday present to my boyfriend who loves old swords.

I'm currently in Beijing and am going back home to Finland in the end of August. I don't even dream of finding a real antique sword, let alone being able to afford one, but would just like to find a sword that at least looks old and authentic enough. I haven't really looked anywhere yet, so I don't know if there are that kind of objects readily available at antique markets. I was thinking about going to Panjiayuan "dirt market" on Sunday to have a look around, and I'm hoping I will find something. Any other good places to shop for these kind of souvenirs? I am not an expert in old stuff, let alone swords, so I will probably end up buying anything that looks good enough in my uneducated eyes.

Does anyone have any idea if I will have any difficulties in taking a sword away from the country, even if it isn't antique? I guess it won't be easy to hide, since they check your luggage with x-rays at the airport... Should I just put the thing in my suitcase and hope for the best? Do they generally care at all what tourists take out of the country?

Thanks for anyone who can help me at all!

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Quest

I doubt they will let you hide a sword in your luggage...

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Alleluia

Why, though, unless there's a tax I should pay for taking the object out of the country? You can take kitchen knives in your luggage too, as long as the luggage is checked in and thus goes in the hold of the plane. Not in the hand baggage of course!!! :D What I'm after basically is: do the authorities check the kinds of souvenirs you are taking out of the country, and is there any risk that I might have to pay something for taking an "old" sword with me, since I can't really hide the fact that I have one in my luggage?!?

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Tsunku

Some friends of mine had some real problems getting some Tibetan knives through customs, despite the fact that the knives were completely dull and you probably couldn't cut someone with them even if you tried. Customs took their knives, and the post office wouldn't allow them to be mailed either. Another friend got her's through with no problems. If you decide to try, put them in your checked luggage and hope for the best, it might get confiscated, but then again it might not.

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Alleluia

Thanks for your advise, Tsunku. If it's the customs who confiscate the knives, could the problem rather be related to certain Chinese laws not allowing the exportation of antiquities out of the country, than to airline security?!? I'd never try to take a sword or a knife in my hand baggage, since they don't even allow nailclippers any more. But according to the websites of different airlines, they have nothing against people having sharp objects in their checked luggage, so it's hard to believe that the sharpness or dullness is an issue here. :-? Unless of course Chinese airports have different regulations than other countries... Well, I haven't even found the sword yet, but if I do, maybe I'll just try and hope for the best.

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ananda

well, I think that the sword putted in the luggage could be safely exported outside china by airplane except that sword is quite an antiquity.

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Tsunku

The knives weren't antiques, not even close, they were these 20 RMB deals that you can buy in large quantities if you go around Zhongdian in Yunnan (and probably any other Tibetan area in other parts of China). The confiscation of the knives had to do directly with transporting "dangerous" weapons, even though dull knives packed away in checked luggage hardly constitute a threat. It was pretty ridiculous, but there ya go. It might have had something to do with my friend giving the customs agent (Chinese) an attitude too, maybe the agent just wanted to hassle him in return.

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Alleluia

Ouch! Sounds bad, but I think I'll try anyway. I'm a pretty little blond girl so maybe the customs officers will be nice with me! :lol: I went to Beijing's Panjiayuan market yesterday and had a look around, and there were loads of nice looking swords and smaller knives for sale, most of them definately not old but I don't mind, the prices weren't bad either. Didn't buy anything yet since I forgot to measure my suitcase and wasn't sure the sword I was looking at would fit in... :roll: It's funny though that you couldn't transport dull knives in checked luggage from China, because in other countries you can even take firearms and ammunition (for hunting) without any special arrangements.

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guest1234

Hi.

I study bagua in beijing but live in London England. I travel to Beijing about four times a year. I have brought a large number of weapons back, Including a Bagua Dadao ( 八卦大刀 ) which is over 5 feet long and a pair of Deer horn knifes .Also many swords. I have found that if they are packed in checked luggage there should be no problem. Large weapons I have put in a hockey bag taped up in paper and secured. I have told the people at the Air china desk what I have and explained my martial arts practice . When they have finnished laughing at the fat English man and his poor Chinese they help me and place the bag in oversize luggage check in. I have yet to have a problem.

Hope this helps

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Alleluia

Thanks for your advise, bagua; sounds like there's hope! I'm not sure that I will buy a sword this time after all, since I already found a really nice old majiang set for my boyfriend, but I'm still thinking of buying a sword next time I come here, so this information may yet be very helpful.

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asharpe

Last month I went on a trip to Hangzhou,Shanghai, and Chengdu. I bought a small sword for my son, and simply packed it in my checked-in baggage. No problems at all. They did, however, search my luggage after they saw what looked to them like a very strange gun on the x-ray; it was a small telescope that I had purchased. They didn't look twice at the sword.

In fact, when I went to China in 1999, I also bought a large sword, and since we had bought rugs as well, I wrapped the sword in the rugs and checked them as baggage. Except for the additional money we had to pay for the oversize luggage, there wasn't a problem.

By the way, if you want to look at a few pictures I took in China, they are on my web page: http://www.andrewsharpe.com/china2004

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beijingbooty

I think that aside from the problems of customs etc, the MAIN issue you shoud be concerned with is finding a REAL genuine old sword.

The market is saturated with fakes and rubbish swords.

Unless you pay a huge amount from a reputable shop and get half a dozen authenticity certificates with it, then you undoubtedly will end up with a piece of scrap.

Same with buying any supposed antique in china. It is a minefield for the amateur collector. Please dont think if an item is sold as genuine that it actually is.

You can also buy all sorts of junk chinese swords on ebay. The market is saturated with them.

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NateM

Were people's customs problems mostly related to Chinese customs agents? Are there any more country-specific rules in place that should be adhered to? I have a friend working with me here in Tianjin who wants to bring a sword back to Britain with him. I'd imagine if anywhere has a serious problem with bringing back swords, it would be the U.S, with all the Sept-11 terrorism-paranoia and all.

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nephridium

Great posts everyone (especially bagua :D). What would be the places to look for around Beijing (or China in general) in order to find good (as in "non-rubbish") swords?

Interestingly, I read in a book about Samurai swords that many valuable and old Japanese katanas can be found in the USA (collected by American soldiers as war trophies after WWII), if one were to look hard enough.

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puja

As bagua already said, it's no problem getting weapons out of China once you have packed them in checked-luggage. Even if they look old and antique the chinese should know that most things you get here in china are fake. Last year we brought a pair of Hu Gou Jian (Tiger Hook Swords) that looked nicely old back home and no one complained. Problems could come up when you're importing waepons not allowed in your own country (like nunchucks to germany for example).

If you just want some nice looking probably even old looking swords you should try panjiayuan or liulichang.

If you want training-weapons for wushu you could go to beijing wushu univerity or some of the shops (don't ask me where they are) where they sell mostly normal (usually hk made) and the "superflexible" weapons. If you want something of a more decent quality you should find a wepaonsmith. A friend of mine who's living in BJ for quite some years now told me there's a good one not far from BJ. They even do individual assignments and I've seen some of the ordered double-handed swords, which are really nice, but then you have to have time, cause getting a indvidual order can take up to 2 month, I heard.

Cheers,

Puja

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taijisteve

Any new sword can be transported out of China in luggage. I recently went to China and departed with 45 new swords and one antique in my luggage. I have also shipped them from China fron time to time. If you can carry them you are better off paying the charges for over-weight baggage then shipping. The antiques allowed out of the country must not date back to or before (Approx) 1796. Items before that date are not allowed out without special permission. Beware of fake antiques. If you are not schooled in identifying antiques find someone who is to help you.

If you need any other info regarding this topic, let me know or visit my website at taijicenter.com

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davemc

I have a related question about taking "weapons" back home. This summer among some of the gifts I bought in Xinjiang are some knives for friends back home in the US. They are supposedly handmade (ok no comments on the geeky, gullible tourist) I was told that because of the Olympics I could not ship these items home and actually had them find a service just to have it sent here to Harbin (there went my negotiated discount). Now I have checked with the post, FedEx and others and they tell me I cannot ship them. I really wanted to ship these items back home before I did a little traveling before returning home myself. My questions are:

1) Does anyone know of a company I can use to send these 5 knives (about 12 inches long) home?

2) Barring shipping them home does anyone have experience of just putting these things in checked luggage and hoping for the best?

Thanks,

Dave

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imron

Are they sharpened or blunt? I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but in my experience with Australian customs, it's ok to take things like this back so long as you can show they are not sharp (and therefore aren't really supposed to be weapons) and as long as they are not on some forbidden weapons list (e.g. blunt switch blades wouldn't be ok).

You will probably need to declare them. For example when entering Australia one of the questions on the customs declaration form asks if you are carrying any drugs, firearms or weapons, which every time I have carried something like this back, I have ticked off. Then when going through customs, a customs officer will inspect them, check that they are not sharpened and then give them the ok. If customs finds them without you having declared them, then you're likely to receive a fine and/or have them confiscated.

Anyway, this is for Australian customs only, so I'm not sure how it will work in the US and what the laws are regarding bringing knives into the country.

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davemc

Hi Imron,

Thanks for responding. Actually they are sharp. FedEx guy in Nanjing (not here in Harbin) seemed to suggest if they were dull I could ship them but the office in Harbin told me I absolutely could not ship them. Maybe I can try to have them dulled....

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taijisteve

I have made three trips home (to the USA) carrying as many as 40 swords (At once) in a large sword bag. I have declared them as display pieces and never had any problems bringing them into the USA. ( I did have to pay for the additional weight) I am now living in China and will return to the US for 2 weeks this month with several swords.. visit my website at taijicenter.com It is somtimes blocked from China's internet

Steve

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