A farmer in China has been innocently chopping his vegetables with what could turn out to be an ancient and valuable sword. Yi Shouxiang of Chongqing says he found a rusty blade while working in his fields five years ago and decided to sharpen it. He soon noticed the Chinese characters for "dragon" and "sword" were engraved in the metal, but apparently didn't think much more of them as he began using the blade as a knife in his kitchen, the South China Morning Post reports. The blade didn't look precisely like a real sword, as it was missing a pointy head and a handle. When officials from a local cultural heritage center turned up looking for antique farm equipment, however, they realized the 60-year-old had something far more special on his hands.
A close look at the blade revealed a third Chinese character, variously reported as meaning "green" or "black." Experts say the so-called "dragon sword," cast in red copper, dates to the Qing Dynasty, which stretched from 1644 to 1912. Locals believe it could be worth as much as $160,000, though officials say Yi may have hurt its value by sharpening it into a kitchen blade, and the polishing he did may have also hindered officials' ability to discover the sword's precise age, Shanghaiist reports; they're still attempting to evaluate its historical value. Ancient Origins notes the double-edged straight sword, or jian, like the one discovered, has been around in China for thousands of years and is still used today in Tai Chi or Taijiquan training. (Read about a similar find, this one from "the dawn of Chinese civilization.")