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Author Topic:   A new dha
Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-19-2002 23:06     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of our Forumites, Charles S., recently sold me a gorgeous silver mounted dha and scabbard that I wanted to share with you, as well as pictures of my all time favorite silver dha that I have had for a few years.

The first one, courtesy of Chuck, is probably Burmese. The hilt has silver ferules top and bottom with wire wrapping in between. The end of the hilt is capped with a nice piece of turquoise. There is a silk string attached to the pommel, the purpose of which is unclear.

The throat of the scabbard has a heavy silver mount with two amethysts, one on each side. There are five silver bands, with the central one being wider and mounted on one side with an amethyst and on the other side has what appears to be onyx (perhaps a replacement). The chape has another heavy silver mount with a piece of pink coral set on each side.

The blade is finely forged and sharpened, widening progressively from hilt to tip, and the tip is round, almost like a dao.

A handsome sword and scabbard, definitely for someone of considerable wealth.

The second was discussed on the Forum a couple of years ago when it appeared on eBay. It is a large two-handed dha, probably Thai, with extensive silver on the hilt, as well as on the throat and chape of the scabbard. This sword has been used and sharpened quite extensively in its career.

The hilt has been wrapped in part with tooled leather that has a spiral corrugated appearance that I have not seen before. The leather hilt is segmented by two silver pieces into an upper and lower section, separate from the large silver ferule, that were probably intended for a two-handed grip.

Like the first hilt, there is a stone set into the end of the handle. This stone is opalescent but I am not sure whether it is an opal -- if so, it is a large one.

The blade is probably Thai from its shape, showing widening towards the tip. This has been very well forged, probably laminated, and still very sharp.

Again, a sword of distinction and for someone of wealth.

Both of these swords are at the high end of dha in quality and decoration. They are the only two dha/dharb that I have seen which have a large gemstone set into the end of the hilt.

I'm particularly putting these examples up for the enjoyment of a Forum member who is having more than his share of health problems. Hope you like them my friend.

Ian

[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 05-21-2002).]

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justin
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 19:38     Click Here to See the Profile for justin   Click Here to Email justin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even more beutiful dhas,Ian, are you sure you dont have every one that was made?I dont know if you are aware of this ,but other than the common white and black opals there are many different types,and some are considered almost worthless that can also be a milky white but without too much iridescence.I am sorry to hear of the misfortune of another forum member and my best wishes go out to him.Thanks for sharing these beautiful swords with us.-Justin

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john
Senior Member
posted 05-21-2002 21:07     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've never seen a dha and what an introduction. Exquisite and really handsome.
Thanks for sharing with the rest as well as for your friend. Wishing him high spirits.

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Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 09:46     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gorgeous dhas! I remember the second one from a few years ago -- the owner thought it was a Cossack until someone straightened him out.

The chape on the first one is very reminscent of Chinese dao furniture I think, with the asymetry in the profile, and the chasing. I drool.

BTW, I think "Chuckie" has a secret agent in Burma scouring the country for beautiful weapons.

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 14:03     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does a hand fit through the loop of string? Could it be a wrist-strap? The tip on that first dha looks a bit off to me; the way ti swoops back and meets the spine at a distinct angle, rather than radiusing in smoothly suggests it might be re-worked; any thoughts on that? The tip is highly reminiscent of those on some parang nabur (think of the bat-hilt ones or the Dayak ones).

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-22-2002 18:14     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for your comments.

Mark: The furniture on the first reminds me of what one finds on Chinese dao too. And yes, Chuck does find some interesting pieces from Indochina. I'd like to know his source!

The seller of the second one did indeed believe it was Russian, and based his opinion on the silver work rather than the blade as a whole.

Tom: The tip on the first one is probably original I think, mainly because it fits the sheath beyond where you see the piece of coral, almost to its end. Looking at the blade live, there does seem to be a smooth radius which is not well shown in the picture. I have seen other dha with curved ends, but not quite like this one.

My hand will fit through the silk loop, but it is quite short and I think it would impede the use of the sword if one used it to keep the sword on the wrist.

Ian.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 05-23-2002 00:08     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
VERY BEAUTIFUL AND FUNCTIONAL SWORDS. THE FIRST ONE STRIKES ME AS TIBET-CHINA INFLUENCE THEY PUT TURQUOISE AND RED CORAL AND OTHER STONES ON THEIR WEAPONS FREQUENTLY. MOST BURMESE AND THAI DHA THAT I HAVE SEEN DON'T HAVE STONES. THE SECOND ONE IS MY FAVORITE IT LOOKS VERY BUSINESS LIKE YET ELEGANT. YOU COULD TAKE IT TO A JEWLER TO SEE IF IT IS A OPAL IN THE POMMEL AND ASK IF IT WOULD BE WORTH RESTORING A POLISH ON IT IF NEEDED. ANY JEWLER WHO HAS WORKED WITH OPAL COULD EASILY DO IT WITHOUT REMOVING IT FROM THE SWORD. NOT JUST ANYONE SHOULD ATTEMPT IT HOWEVER AS OPAL IS NOT A FORGIVING STONE AND WILL FRACTURE IF OVER HEATED AND IT IS EASY TO CUT THRU A LAYER OF FIRE (SOFT STONE, THIN LAYERS) BUT IF IT IS A NICE STONE IT WOULD BE WORTH DOING A HEAVY PATINA OR WEAR IS NOT TO BE DESIRED IN FINE OPAL

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Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 05-23-2002 09:35     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian:

There is something I find curious about the second dha (and of dhas in general), and that is that the "quality" of the blade does not seem to match the opulance of the fittings. From the photos its looks like this blade is of rather simple architecture -- pretty basic in other words -- while the fittings are glorious. My first impression looking at the sword was that the blade looked very business-like, and possible well-used, while the fittings indicated a more dressy or ceremonial function.

Do you think this is an old blade (maybe heirloom?) that was fitted later with upgraded furniture? Or is it just that the Burmese put all the work in the fittings rather than the blade? Pradoxically, I have also seen beautifully decorated and forged blades in relatively plain mounts.

Boy I love dhas! They may not be as patently diverse as keris, but there is a never-ending variety.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-23-2002 11:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mark:

You touch on a question that has puzzled me also. The blades are usually business-like -- well forged, sharp, and often fairly "simple" in construction -- but the hilts and scabbards are often ornate, with brass and silver mounts that can be very soft and easily damaged.

There are more ornate blades, of course, often with inlaid silver, and these appear to be mainly decorative. I will post some pictures this weekend of a good quality dha with such a blade.

I have no doubt that both the blades above are fully functional and would make deadly combat weapons. Whether they are heirloom blades mounted for show, or combat weapons of Burmese or Thai gentry, I cannot say. My guess is the latter. In each case the blades could be much older than the hilts and scabbards. The furniture may be 19th C on the lower one, and about the same or somewhat later on the upper one.

I am strongly attracted to the form of dha/dharb/dao, and now have more than 30, mostly of more humble origins than the two above.

Ian.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-27-2002 03:36     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are pictures of another very nice dha that has a spectacular blade and a rather ordinary hilt. The blade is inlaid with silver scrolls, an inscription, and elaborate chiseling. The hilt is shark or ray skin, flanked by ferrules of banded silver and copper.

This one could be Thai or Burmese, but I think more likely Thai from the shape of the blade.

The scabbard is a very recent replacement.

Ian.

[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 05-27-2002).]

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Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 10:04     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 17:13     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian,

The writing here is Burmese, so I'd vote for Burma over Siam.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 17:19     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ruel:

Thank you! I have been looking for someone who could distinguish between Thai and Burmese script. Can you translate the meaning of the inscription?

Ian.

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DAHenkel
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 19:53     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian, best one yet! Really nice piece and nothing ordinary about it. I love the silver bands over copper on the hilt. First rate.

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DAHenkel
Senior Member
posted 05-28-2002 20:01     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ian, best one yet! Really nice piece and nothing ordinary about it. I love the silver bands over copper on the hilt. First rate.

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ruel
Senior Member
posted 05-30-2002 16:06     Click Here to See the Profile for ruel   Click Here to Email ruel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Ian,

Sorry, I can't read Burmese. The script, though, is readily distinguisable from Siamese Thai, and IMO much more elegant. Burmese letters have that attractive circular appearance which was supposedly developed because the more linear Indian scripts from which it derived would split the dried palm leaf manuscripts when inscribed with a pointed stylus.

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