Bian Jian (鞭箭)

Bian Jian (鞭箭, lit. 'Whip arrow') refers to a weapon that uses whipping motion to propel arrows. The term can be applied to several different weapons, detailed below. It should not be confused with another Bian Jian (邊箭).

Bian Jian (highlighted), from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Song Dynasty Bian Jian is a very unique spear-thrower that is best described as a very long staff sling that throws a spear-sized dart. Unlike atlatl or other spear-throwers, a Bian Jian requires two operators.

Ming Chinese Spear-thrower Sling
How a Bian Jian is presumably used. The rope should be shorter though. This image is cropped, edited and pieced together from the training manuals of 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)'.
Sinologist Joseph Needham and his collaborators once tried to determine the method of launching a Bian Jian, but with inconclusive result. The picture above is my own take on the launch method, based on the instructions found in Wu Jing Zong Yao (《武經總要》).

Huo Yao Bian Jian (火藥鞭箭, lit. 'Gunpowder whip arrow')
Early Chinese Rocket
Drawing of a Huo Yao Bian Jian (highlighted), from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Sometimes shortened to Huo Yao Jian (火藥箭, lit. 'Gunpowder arrow'), Huo Yao Bian Jian is probably an early form of rocket, as it lacks the hook found on normal Bian Jian that is required for it to be launched from a staff sling. It is similar to Ming Dynasty Da Tong Huo Jian (大筩火箭).

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