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Grips are usually of fluted wood or covered in rayskin, with a minority being wrapped with cord.
Most jian of the last century or so are assembled with a threaded tang onto which the pommel or pommel-nut is screwed. During the Ming Dynasty these were usually passed through an openwork pommel, and in the Qing through a hole in the grip itself; modern swords usually attach the tassel to the end of the pommel.
Historically these were likely used as lanyards, allowing the wielder to retain the sword in combat.
There are some sword forms which utilize the tassel as an integral part of their swordsmanship style (sometimes offensively), while other schools dispense with sword tassels entirely.
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.