Bronze jian were often made in a somewhat similar manner: in this case an alloy with a high copper content would be used to make a resilient core and spine, while the edge would be made from a high-tin-content alloy for sharpness and welded onto the rest of the blade.The sword smiths of China are often credited with the forging technologies that traveled to Korea and Japan to allow sword smiths there to create such weapons as the katana.
Jian were originally made from bronze, then steel as metal technology advanced.
In Chinese folklore, it is known as "The Gentleman of Weapons" and is considered one of the four major weapons, along with the Gun (staff), Qiang (spear), and the Dao (sabre).
These swords are also sometimes referred to as taijijian or "t'ai chi swords", reflecting their current use as training weapons for taijiquan practitioners, though there were no historical jian types created specifically for taijiquan.
A minority of jian featured the disc-shaped guards associated with dao.
A handle behind the guard can accommodate the grip of both hands or one hand plus two or three fingers of the other hand.
Some antiques have rounded points, though these are likely the result of wear.
The middle section is the zhongren or middle edge, and is used for a variety of offensive and defensive actions: cleaving cuts, draw cuts, and deflections.
There are some, perhaps ceremonial, jian which are carved from a single solid piece of jade.
Traditional jian blades are usually of sanmei (three plate) construction, which involved sandwiching a core of hard steel between two plates of softer steel.
The movement of the tassel may have served to distract opponents, and some schools further claim that metal wires or thin silk cords were once worked into the tassels for impairing vision and causing bleeding when swept across the face.
The blade itself is customarily divided into three sections for leverage in different offensive and defensive techniques.
The Korean version of the jian is known as the geom or gum, and these swords often preserve features found in Ming-era jian, such as openwork pommels and sharply angled tips.