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Author Topic:   Dha Styles
Andrew
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posted 07-26-2003 23:06     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim wrote something on an SFI thread that got me thinking a bit. There are three basic "styles" of dha that I've seen. (I know, I know. Hang with me on my over-simplification for the purpose of this thread. ). I think of them as "Kachin", "Shan", and "Montagnard".

First, we've got the "Kachin" style, with its strong Naga sword-dao influence. These are the types you often see with flat or concave tips and, occasionally, with Chinese writing or motifs. Northwest Burma, perhaps southern Yunan, China.

Next, the "Shan" style which, I think, covers a wide range of weapons from the braided-rattan wrapped "working dha", to the silver and Ivory decorated masterpieces. This style seems to appear almost across SEA, showing up with seemingly reliable origins in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. EDIT: Just so we're clear, I'm calling this style "Shan" for ease of reference. This basic style appears to be utilized by many different ethnic groups, including Burman, Mon, Shan, Tai, and Karen accross SEA.

Last, the "Montagnard" which have rather long handles, sometimes equal to the length of the blade, and a characteristic angled or "slashed" tip with a false front edge, with the spine of the sword longer than the cutting edge. The examples I've seen have come with Vietnam and Laos origins.

Anybody have any thoughts or comments? I especially welcome corrections!

EDIT: The expanded Typology:

KACHIN
SHAN
MONTAGNARD
KHMER
KAREN

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 09-14-2003).]

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Jim McDougall
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posted 07-27-2003 18:50     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim McDougall   Click Here to Email Jim McDougall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Andrew,
I'm glad you're posting this, as we've discussed the topic of the typological classification of dhas is vague at best.
Could you please post illustrations of these three forms so we can get a benchmark for discussion.
It seems that most illustrations of dha that appear in general books on edged weapons or of course catalogs etc always indiscriminately call them 'Burmese'. Since obviously these are quite separate countries in SE Asia using the dha, as well as variations between ceremonial type weapons of the metropolitan areas and the working class weapons of tribal groups, this will be quite a challenge.
Best regards, Jim

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Andrew
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posted 07-27-2003 20:40     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Jim. I wanted to send Lee some photos of dha from my own collection, but I'm having some trouble with the images. What I'll do is link photos from old threads and from Oriental Arms. I'll provide ownership information where possible. (If anyone would prefer I not use their swords as examples, please let me know by email).

Cheers,
Andrew

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ariel
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posted 07-27-2003 21:20     Click Here to See the Profile for ariel   Click Here to Email ariel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just e-mailed several pics to Lee for posting. Hope they may be helpful in the discussion.
The first on is a typical Kachin , the rest are Shan (according to Andrew's classification) Two have blade markings ; any idea what they mean? One is a funny sort: very crude blade with the handle made from elephant's rib( I took it to my zoologist friend from the local Natural History museum).I brought it and 3 more from Thailand. The 2 with markings were bought at local Gun & Knife shows for a song.
I like them quite a lot: light, sharp and superbly balanced; they must have been formidable weapons.

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Roro
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posted 07-28-2003 10:58     Click Here to See the Profile for Roro   Click Here to Email Roro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I often wondered if anyone had actually tried to classify the different dha. At first I thought there were too many versions and too much cross culturization, but then I figured if people can classify the many types of keris, then I'm sure someone could do it with dha. I know I have seen the types described, but never thought to catagorize them. Count me as extremly interested, especially in the roots (where and what tribes) of the configurations.

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Andrew
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posted 07-28-2003 12:35     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, later today, I'll post examples of each "style" as I've termed it. Please remember, guys, this is a very basic taxonomy Ian and I are developing here. There are clearly sub-categories within each of the three main categories I set forth. Jim very nicely articulated a differentiation between the "working" and finer Shan as "Tribal" and "Metropolitan". I've paraphrased, but I think that's where you were going, Jim? (By the way, I'm going to appropriate those terms ). Sort of a country-cousin/city-cousin thing.

I personally have seen both tribal and metropolitan Kachin and Shan dha. I've not seen what I would classify as metropolitan Montagnard dha.

If my theory holds water, the hardest category to break down into smaller levels will be Shan. These swords appear accross a large geographic and cultural area, and come in a seemingly endless variety. However, for the most part they share some common elements that make them "dha".

1. Cylindrical handles: from the really long two-handers to single handers. I usually associate the really long handles of this type to hail from Thailand and Laos, and the shorter handles from Burma. Exceptions do exist.;

2. Curved, single edged blades (usually saber-tipped or spear-tipped, although many many exceptions have appeared, especially on this board);

3. No guard, or a vestigial tsuba-like guard (I've seen this only on swords from Thailand and Laos.)

Finally, Does anyone think there may be a last category for certain dha-like swords found in Cambodia and areas of Vietnam? (Please note, I'm not refering to "Cochin Sabers", or Vietnamese "Dai Dao", which do reflect some dha influence, but also Chinese and Japanese as well. I think of those as a separate type of sword.) I've only seen photos of a couple swords with Cambodian origins. They seem subtlely different from the types I've discussed above. Perhaps this is another style: "Kmer". Anyone have any Cambodian or Vietnamese dha?

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 07-29-2003).]

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Jim McDougall
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posted 07-28-2003 12:55     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim McDougall   Click Here to Email Jim McDougall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Andrew,
This is great! I'm glad you agree with the terms I used and that you are using them. Roro and Ariel thanks for coming in on this too, your input is valuable as you all have expertise in studying these.
Very good point about the complexity of the classification of keris, where diffusion is completely intense...if it can be done there then surely this can be done.
This project is one that I know Andrew and Ian have been working on, and I'm really looking forward to progress.
Excellent start so far! The games afoot!!!
All the best, Jim

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Jim McDougall
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posted 07-28-2003 13:07     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim McDougall   Click Here to Email Jim McDougall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Andrew,
Forgot to mention, the Montagnard term is of course a general term applied by the French during the French Indo-China days and during Vietnam. The term is for mountain tribes and applied overall to the multi-tribal mountain groups, who are in general non-sedentary and move about in small villages intermittantly.
These tribes are regarded with some disdain by the established 'metropolitan' groups of the lowlands, and there is a term they are called by them (I'll try to locate notes).
Therefore, there will be no example of a metropolitan form for the dhas of the mountain tribes, however a close parallel might be a ceremonial weapon for a chieftain or medicine man/shaman if applicable.
I'll try to find some of the tribal names of the so called Montagnard tribal groups...one prominant was the Hmong....but another is simply Mong. etc etc.
Time to get out the Geographics!!
All the best, Jim

P.S. I know you guys already are aware of this data, but wanted to include for some of the readers that like me, are still trying to catch up on dha lore

[This message has been edited by Jim McDougall (edited 07-28-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 07-28-2003 14:06     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Roro:
I often wondered if anyone had actually tried to classify the different dha. At first I thought there were too many versions and too much cross culturization, but then I figured if people can classify the many types of keris, then I'm sure someone could do it with dha. I know I have seen the types described, but never thought to catagorize them. Count me as extremly interested, especially in the roots (where and what tribes) of the configurations.

Roro:

Categorization along individual tribal lines is going to be very difficult. That's why we decided to start macro, utilizing information available to us as Western collectors of these swords, and work our way down. I feel certain that different tribes may each have thier own unique variation on a particular theme.

Unfortunately, research at that level will probably need to be conducted in SEA itself, or with the assistance of someone(s) with tribal connections. That may prove impossible in Burma (Myanmar), given what I've been told about the current regime.

Someday...

Andrew

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Andrew
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posted 07-28-2003 14:38     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim McDougall:

Andrew,
Forgot to mention, the Montagnard term is of course a general term applied by the French during the French Indo-China days and during Vietnam. The term is for mountain tribes and applied overall to the multi-tribal mountain groups, who are in general non-sedentary and move about in small villages intermittantly.
These tribes are regarded with some disdain by the established 'metropolitan' groups of the lowlands, and there is a term they are called by them (I'll try to locate notes).
Therefore, there will be no example of a metropolitan form for the dhas of the mountain tribes, however a close parallel might be a ceremonial weapon for a chieftain or medicine man/shaman if applicable.
I'll try to find some of the tribal names of the so called Montagnard tribal groups...one prominant was the Hmong....but another is simply Mong. etc etc.
Time to get out the Geographics!!
All the best, Jim

P.S. I know you guys already are aware of this data, but wanted to include for some of the readers that like me, are still trying to catch up on dha lore

[This message has been edited by Jim McDougall (edited 07-28-2003).]



Jim:

I'm a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of ethnic minority groups in SEA. I chose the French term "Montagnard" because it (probably intentionally on the part of the confused and Francocentric governers) covers nearly all the Hill Tribes in the area.

I've seen it reported that Vietnam, alone, has upwards of 100 ethnic minorities, many within the main groups of Kihn/Viet, Tay, Tai, Muang, Hoa, Khmer, Nung, Hmong, Dao, Giarai, Odo, Bana and San Chay. Burma and Thailand are apparantly similarly diverse. Burma, with main ethnic groups of Burman, Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Chinese, Mon and Indian, aparantly has many smaller sub-groups/tribes.

Need to get the ethnic groups categorized better for the next step.

Cheers,
Andrew

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 07-28-2003).]

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Ian
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posted 07-28-2003 22:14     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi guys:

I'm really sorry to be out of the loop a bit at the moment while traveling in the Philippines. Andrew and I have been talking about this taxonomy for quite a while and I think what Andrew has written above is key to sorting out the swords and knives of mainland southern/SE Asia. He has correctly pointed to the transitions seen from NW Burma through to Vietnam, and while there has been cross-breeding over the years, the generalizations developed above probably fit the swords of the region at least from the early 19th C to recent times.

As far as Cambodian swords are concerned, these have proven to be somewhat elusive, particularly given the recent history of the Khmer people and their country. I have 5-6 Cambodian swords and they resemble the Shan style described by Andrew but with some subtle distinguishing features. A small guard is sometimes present, the handles tend to be short, in the "Burmese" style. and the handle materials are a little different. The sheaths that I have seen are also a little different from the other groups in the region. Because I'm away from my collection for the next month, I won't be able to post pictures for a while. I did post pictures of a Cambodian dha in another thread a while back -- perhaps Andrew can find and link to it.

Ian

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Andrew
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posted 07-29-2003 00:16     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK. I'll take a stab at this. To really illustrate my thoughts properly, I'd want to post more examples and varients, especially for the Shan category.

quote:
First, we've got the "Kachin" style, with its strong Naga sword-dao influence. These are the types you often see with flat or concave tips and, occasionally, with Chinese writing or motifs. Northwest Burma, perhaps southern Yunan, China.

Kachin dha from Oriental Arms:


quote:
Next, the "Shan" style which, I think, covers a wide range of weapons from the braided-rattan wrapped "working dha", to the silver and Ivory decorated masterpieces. This style seems to appear almost across SEA, showing up with seemingly reliable origins in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. EDIT: Just so we're clear, I'm calling this style "Shan" for ease of reference. This basic style appears to be utilized by many different ethnic groups, including Burman, Mon, Shan, Tai, and Karen accross SEA.

Spear tip Tribal Shan dha from Oriental Arms:

Ian Greaves' Metro Shan:

quote:
Last, the "Montagnard" which have rather long handles, sometimes equal to the length of the blade, and a characteristic angled or "slashed" tip with a false front edge, with the spine of the sword longer than the cutting edge. The examples I've seen have come with Vietnam and Laos origins.

Laos Montagnard dha from Oriental Arms:

quote:
Originally posted by Ian on 05-04-2002
I recently picked up an old dog of a dha with a complete scabbard. The sword had clearly been much used, with many chips from the cutting edge, and the blade was seriously rusted and pitted. The hilt was covered mostly in a heavy coat of black paint or pitch. Quite a mess.
Well, here is how it cleaned up. The blade is heavily pitted in places, but its laminated construction is apparent and the edge remains very sharp despite the heavy wear it has received. The hilt was somewhat of a surprise, having what I think is a brass pommel with nice designs, and a handle that is wood covered for much of its length by a fine copper wire wrapping. There is some simple carving on the visible wooden section. The hilt is completed with a one-inch ferrule adjacent to the blade.

The scabbard has not been touched from how it came. It appears to be bamboo. Some of the original paint/pitch can be seen around the throat of the scabbard and on the metal bands, and the rest of the scabbard has been stained black.

The blade is a heavy one, measuring 7/16 inch in thickness just in front of the hilt. The spine is "peaked" along its length. About six inches in front of the hilt, the blade curves upward, and this curve is followed through to the hilt, providing quite an uptilted hilt relative to the cutting edge.

The seller said that the provenance of this one was Cambodian. I have no reason to doubt him, but would appreciate hearing from our Indochina experts as to the characteristics that might identify this sword as Cambodian (or something else).

Overall length = 33 1/2 inches
Length of blade = 26 inches


Ian's Cambodian ("Khmer" ) dha:


[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 07-29-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 07-29-2003).]

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 07-29-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 07-29-2003 00:44     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim McDougall:

Andrew,
Forgot to mention, the Montagnard term is of course a general term applied by the French during the French Indo-China days and during Vietnam. The term is for mountain tribes and applied overall to the multi-tribal mountain groups, who are in general non-sedentary and move about in small villages intermittantly.
These tribes are regarded with some disdain by the established 'metropolitan' groups of the lowlands, and there is a term they are called by them (I'll try to locate notes).
Therefore, there will be no example of a metropolitan form for the dhas of the mountain tribes, however a close parallel might be a ceremonial weapon for a chieftain or medicine man/shaman if applicable.
I'll try to find some of the tribal names of the so called Montagnard tribal groups...one prominant was the Hmong....but another is simply Mong. etc etc.

Good thought Jim! This, then, could be the reason we don't see metropolitan Montagnard dha. Given that the hill tribe ethnic groups don't mix with the metropolitan Viet, et.al., maybe the "metro" equivalent in Vietnam would be cochin sabers. The ones you often see mounted with an elephant tusk pommel.

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zelbone
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posted 07-29-2003 01:12     Click Here to See the Profile for zelbone   Click Here to Email zelbone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks,Andrew, for posting pics with the various dha forms. Since I don't collect dhas I'm not too familiar with the various forms, but I do read all the dha threads here. Now I can relate to what all you dha collectors are talking about. Makes me want to go out and find me a nice dha! Cool pics, BTW!

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Roro
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posted 07-29-2003 08:51     Click Here to See the Profile for Roro   Click Here to Email Roro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Zelbone

You got me good on the barung on ebay yesterday. I thought I had it and then I see a familiar face swiped it when I was away. Oh well such is the game.

Andrew

I think the monicers for the different types are great. They are even names I recognize. I could even pick out exactly the styles you were initially describing. I think you may have a daunting task in linking tribes to styles. There are just too many variations and too many tribes to compare. I think the cross-culturalization will be so prolific that ID by tribe may be impossible. Still certain tribes are rather isolated and may have unique or at least specific designs that can not readily be found elsewhere.

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Mark Bowditch
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posted 07-29-2003 09:41     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like it. For one thing, it focusses on what I think is the source of this weapon style -- the "tribes," as opposed to the metropolitan centers. Given that the major "civilized" cultural influences on the area are China, India and Ceylon (essentially through religion and trade rather than conquest), a "metropolitan" source would reflect more Indian and Chinese styles (straight blades, or heavier more saber-like curved blades with proper guards), which they don't. Instead, we see overlays onto these tribal forms, such as the use of shagreen, and Hindu and Buddhist decorative motifs.

Where do you think the Thai styles fit in? They seem mainly Shan under this terminology, but also have some montagnard aspects as well. One of the Lao kingdoms, I forget which, was a Siamese vassel traditionally, so maybe this is where it comes in.

I have noticed that handles seem to come in two basic flavors, which I call "five part" and "three part." The Kachin dha posted is an example of five part construction, with a pommel or butt-cap of some kind, a ferrule, and at least one sub-division in the grip in between. Three part construction has an undivided grip (like the Shan examples posted). Often the ferrule and cap are very reduced in the three part handle, almost to a disk in the spear-tipped example Andrew posted for example. The five-part handle I associate strongly, perhaps exclusevily, with Andrew and Ian's Kachin style.

I recently aquired a fabulous old Thai dha, attributed to the 18th cen Ayutthaya period, which has a beautiful five part handle. My guess is that this style came into Thailand with the short-lived but fairly thorough Burmese invasion/occupation in the 18th century. I need to scan the photos, then I'll post them.

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RhysMichael
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posted 07-29-2003 10:45     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow !! As one interested in dha this is great. I do not have the knowledge to contribute much to the discussion but I will be following it closely. I have been trying to find and read all I can on dha for a couple of years now and it has been frustrating.

Using Andrews system if I am understanding it properly these would be kachin dha

I have some that are clearly Shan also. they seem to be the ones we see most. But where would you put this one ?


Also I once had a person try to sell me a very short gilt matched pair of dha they called Mandalay dha. I do not know it that is because he aquired them there or he was trying to say that was a style of dha.

[This message has been edited by RhysMichael (edited 07-29-2003).]

[This message has been edited by RhysMichael (edited 07-29-2003).]

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RhysMichael
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posted 07-29-2003 10:54     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BTW the second Kachin style dha posted appears to be differentially tempered. I need to send it to Phillip for a good polish to truely tell

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RhysMichael
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posted 07-29-2003 10:56     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Also here is a link I had bookmarked that talked about the mjor thai hilltribes

http://home.wanadoo.nl/erikhendriks/hilltribeseng.htm

[This message has been edited by RhysMichael (edited 07-29-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 07-29-2003 11:04     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Mark. I was hoping you'd chime in here.

You and I have discussed the "onion" or "lotus" pommels before. At one time, I attributed this style of pommel to Thai dha. You corrected me, and I do now think it appears on Kachin dha (particularly larger pommels), as well as on some Shan dha found in Thailand (usually smaller). The 5part/3part handle idea is interesting. As usual, you've given me food for thought. Thanks!

I do think most Thai dha, under this system, will be Shan. Certainly, there are wide variations within that category, and differentiating between, say, Shan Burmese and Shan Thai will be my next challenge. As we've discussed before, I'm comfortable making the generalization that Shan dha with shorter handles appear more on Burmese swords, longer handles on Thai and Laotian. However, I need to think about this a bit more. I have a framework in mind for the next level of categorization in both Kachin and Shan dha. It's just too incomplete to discuss it yet.

BTW, I have a sneaking suspicion I have the mate to your 18th century Ayutthaya dha. Have you got it in hand yet? I'd love to talk some more about these two.

Andrew

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Andrew
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posted 07-29-2003 11:23     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi RhysMichael. I've long admired your dha, thanks for sharing some photos again. That top one with the shagreen grip is, to me, definitely Kachin. I've got one very similar. Does your scabbard have a spiral-wrapped wire inlayed into the length of the wood?

The second, black mounted one has always intrigued me. I don't know if that one is Kachin, despite the tip style. Looks really old to me. Any real signs of age, or is it just the photo? Odd looking handle, alomost looks too small/narrow for the size of the blade.

In my opinion, the bottom sword is Metropolitan Shan, probably Thai or Laos, based on the length of the handle. How long is that thing, including the scabbard? I've got one strikingly similar that is quite long (48"). Is that a brass end cap on the scabbard?

Cheers,
Andrew

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Mark Bowditch
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posted 07-29-2003 14:37     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are a couple tid-bits.



The top one is an example of what I call the five part handle. It has a pommel section, a plain wood section (which might have been wrapped with rattan at one time), a small silver dividing ring, a rattan-wrapped wooden section, and a complex ferrule section which could be considered anything from one to three additional parts. Incidently, this is one of the "turtle dha" of which I posted some scans in another thread. The middle one has a three part handle. Both would be classified as "Kacin" under the Winston-Greaves system (sort of has a ring to it, doesn't it?). The bottom one is an odd-ball handle-wise, but I guess would be a Winston-Greaves "Shan."


This one is the twin of RhysMichael's. Mine is very small-proportioned, which makes me think that it might be a child's sword. I have see child-sized tulwar, which made me think of it. Its the Mini-me of dha! Anyway, three-part construction, with a small pommel.

The third dha in RhyMichael's photo has a ferrule that I strongly associate in my mind with Kachin dha -- a facetted cone, with a pronounced ring at the top (like the handle of the top one in my photos). While the tip is upswept, it looks like it turns abruptly rather than sweeps up gradually. Maybe it is the light on a wrinkle in the cloth under it. Despite the diminished pommel, this one says "Kachin" to me.

Edited to constrain image size - laj

[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 08-17-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 07-29-2003 15:09     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like the sound of "Greaves-Winston" better.

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RhysMichael
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posted 07-29-2003 18:01     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Andrew, yes the top one has wire around the scabbard. It is smaller than most dha I have seen. And has symbols and letters etched in the spine, I actually recently traded the top one for a silver thai darb with the large onion pommel.

The second one the handle has dark very very tarnished metal at the top and bottom with the center being a dark wood. So it would fall into the 3 part handle category. I have been afraid to try the agressive cleaning it would take to see what metal is. The blade on it shows a forging pattern though I would not begin to know how to describe or name it. Holding it at or above the wooden center part it does not feel off balance and the narrower part behind fits a second hand reasonably well. Similar to a bastard sword there is not really enough to call it a true two handed sword.

The third is a very long sword it and a similar ivory handled one are the two longest I have. I have just packed the swords for a move on the 8th of next month so I cannot easily measure it but 44 to 48 inches sounds about right. After unpacking I will get better pictures. The flash wash on that one makes it look dark when it is not. To me the end cap looks to be a very low grade silver alloy. Under the breakdown here it would have the 5 part handle

I do not have any of the round or spear tipped dha so is any have any laying around ..... HINT HINT. Kidding aside the person I have bought 4 or 5 of my dha from is looking for one for me, so maybe soon.

I saw a german site the other day selling a carved ivory one similar to that fine looking one Mark has. The link was http://www.hermann-historica.com/auktion43/kat1/lot/781.htm made me wish I could read german. I would still like to get together with any in VA or the surrounding states and we all bring all of our dha. Let me know if anyone else is interested.


[This message has been edited by RhysMichael (edited 07-29-2003).]

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Mark Bowditch
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posted 07-29-2003 22:27     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I live in NoVA (Falls Church). I'd love to have a dha summit.

Here is a collage of the 'Ayutthayan' dha I mentioned, made from scans of the only photos that I have so far. I just got it last week. It has a curious tip, what Phil Tom calls a sheepsfoot. Sort of kampilan-esque. The pommel really shows the lotus blossom motif with littly stylization, so I am pretty convinced whoever identified it as such is right. No markings on the blade, which has a nice pattern and a hardened edge. The fittings are iron, gilded and silvered, and the grips are laquered string wrapping.

I had my dates all wrong before -- mid-18th century was when the Burmese occupation was completely ended by the reunification of Siam. It had begun in the late 16th century. This sword could still be from the 18th century period, though, showing the Burmese/Shan influence. If I can find pre 18th century evidence of the dha form in Burma, I think it would establish the more conclusively the diffusion of the style. So far all I have found are some vague depictions of curved weapons that might be either swords or clubs in the relief sculpture of Pagan (early Burmese capital). The search continues.

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Andrew
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posted 07-30-2003 09:11     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Beautiful sword, Mark. Mine is subtlely different, but still a near match for yours. I'm betting we got them from the same gentleman, who originally indicated to me he had a line on two.

The photos are blurry. What is the tip configuration on yours? Mine has what the seller termed a "sheep's foot", meaning the spine curved down to the cutting edge at a slight angle.

I don't have a scanner, so when my example arrives, I'll post photos.

I think you're right that these show Shan influence. The long handles are consistant with thoughts about Thai swords having longer handles.

Both Mark and Ian commented to me not too long ago when I was thinking about the dearth of really old dha that it may be a form which did not begin to appear until the 18th/19th century. Certainly, these are the oldest I've seen.

Congratulations, Mark!

Andrew

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Mark Bowditch
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posted 07-30-2003 10:44     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You have described the tip exactly, Andrew. The blade has seen a lot of use, and the edge shows a slight concavity toward the tip from sharpening. I don't know how it stacks up against others', but it is certainly the oldest dha in my collection by a good 100 years.

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Andrew
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posted 08-02-2003 21:37     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would love to hear Philip Tom's take on the four categories, as we had some discussions about this, and Philip made some really excellent and helpful points. Philip?

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 08-03-2003).]

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RhysMichael
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posted 08-16-2003 20:10     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was re-reading this great thread when a thought came to mind. Is anyone writing this information into one of the reference pages for this site ? I would be willing to help pull it together if no one else is working on it and if some of those more who know of dha than I am are willing to review and edit it. If you feel this is a good idea let me know. Also I would need the real names of the major contributors to give proper credit (this page would not be done in my name as I just read it )and permission from those posting pictures to use thier pictures. Andrew since you started the thread and were the major contributor if you do not feel it a good idea its a no go. And, if you and Ian are already working on somthing more in-depth it would certainly be better to wait for that. I just want the information to be readily available.

The down side is if we get more interested in dha then we have more competition to get them. So maybe we should keep this dha thing to ourselves ...just kidding

[This message has been edited by RhysMichael (edited 08-16-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 08-17-2003 01:21     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi RhysMichael. Ian and I are, indeed, working on something. I'd love to talk with you some, and see some photos of your collection. I'll email you. Thank you for the kind offer!

On a side note (speaking of competition), nice grab on that crystal-pommeled dha! I was away, and missed the end of the auction. That's a very cool and unusual piece.

Andrew

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RhysMichael
Senior Member
posted 08-17-2003 09:50     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Andrew I cannot wait to see it and any pictures of my dha feel free to use. I will e-mail you some of ones not posted here after the move is done. I got lucky on the dha on e-bay I thought it would go a good bit higher. I have bought 5 dha from the person selling this. His descriptions are always dead on accurate. So I cannot wait to get this one

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cylord21
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posted 08-17-2003 11:31     Click Here to See the Profile for cylord21   Click Here to Email cylord21     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most interesting thread developed while away and a sound dha style classification for swords that i will use from now on until further development of your work, but what about dha daggers, are you working on that too ?. I can send pictures of my small dha collection (swords & daggers)as contribution to your work on the subject on which i am interested in. Will post pics of a custom made ordered by previous owner of a 1971 silver mounted dha with elephant ivory hilt done by Thit Thong Ratanakorn, Luang Prabang, Laos. Sword design and the outstanding deep chiseled silver work style and caracters are based on “ancient Laotian Monarchy”, where does this one fits in the dha style ?.


[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 08-26-2003).]

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Andrew
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posted 08-17-2003 15:20     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RhysMichael:

Great sword! Really look forward to talking with you some more about it.


Cylord21:

Thank for the kind words. I'd love to talk more and see some photos of your dha. We are looking at the shorter dha. I don't really differentiate between size when looking at these. Most of the short, knife size dha I have demonstrate the same characteristics of the longer examples, just scaled down.

Cheers,
Andrew

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Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-17-2003 15:34     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd like to invite anyone who's interested to contact me to discuss an exchange of photos and measurements. I know Ian and I have spoken to Mark about this before, and RhysMichael and Cylord have made generous offers here. What we propose to do is compile a photographic record of as many different dha examples as possible.

I can be contacted at awinston@aol.com .

Andrew

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 08-17-2003).]

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Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 08-18-2003 09:16     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Andrew/Ian:

I don't know what form your work will take, but I have begun building a website I coyly call The Dha Research Index. It is simply an assemblage of information on my own dha (hopefully to be expanded and supplemented with others') that follows a standardized format. Each sword gets its own page, with at least one photo of the full sword next to its scabbard, and additional photos to show interesting details, and a side-bar list of the sword's vital statistics (length overall, length of the blade, length of the tang, width of blade, tip shape, handle type, Winston-Greaves classification, weight, and so forth).

My thought was to have as comprehensive a collection of basic information for researchers for reference purposes, so that we are all working with as large a sample size as possible. I will not descriminate based on quality or age, since I think there is something to learn even from low-quality or damaged, or even "tourist" swords.

I hope to have something up next week-end.

[This message has been edited by Mark Bowditch (edited 08-18-2003).]

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Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-18-2003 15:36     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mark:

Ian's out of the country, and has limited web access. When he reads this, I'm sure he'll jump in.

Your site sounds perfect! We've been discussing what is, really, two different projects. The first is exactly the type of catalog you're working on. The second is a writing or writings about dha. This thread contains one of the basic premises of that work, and Ian's thread on Contemporary Thai Darb is another.

I'd be very pleased to contribute to your site; let's definitely not duplicate our efforts. I've just completed photography and measurements of my collection. I'll send you an email.

Andrew

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 08-18-2003).]

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Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-24-2003 00:51     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm going to throw a monkey wrench in here, and add a 5th type: Karen.

I've been doing some reading on the major tribal/ethnic groups of Burma and Thailand lately. Also, I've had some dha positively identified as being produced by Karen tribesmen. Too many for me to ignore it any longer.

This new category reconciles, for me at least, some confusion over swords which, previously, seemed to fit into both the Kachin and Shan categories.

These are, in my experience, often seen with heavily scrolled silverworked scabberds, often with flat, flaring "caps" on the end. Handles come in a wide variety, including some with lotus buds, and ivory. Blade shapes seem to run the spectrum, from flat to saber. Here is a knife sized example I purchased from Hal at Therion Arms last year:

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 11-17-2003).]

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-26-2003 07:02     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Photos have been added to cylord21's post of 8/17; just bringing this to the top.

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Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 08-26-2003 11:07     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cylord21:
Most interesting thread developed while away and a sound dha style classification for swords that i will use from now on until further development of your work, but what about dha daggers, are you working on that too ?. I can send pictures of my small dha collection (swords & daggers)as contribution to your work on the subject on which i am interested in. Will post pics of a custom made ordered by previous owner of a 1971 silver mounted dha with elephant ivory hilt done by Thit Thong Ratanakorn, Luang Prabang, Laos. Sword design and the outstanding deep chiseled silver work style and caracters are based on “ancient Laotian Monarchy”, where does this one fits in the dha style ?.

What a nice sword! One very much like this appeared on eBay not too long ago, but did not reach reserve. That tusk on the handle really evokes the "Kochin Sabers" of Vietnam. The animistic silverwork is something I've seen repeated on many Laotian dha.

How's the blade quality, Cylord? Does it show any laminate construction or differential tempering?

I think we're looking at a "Metro Shan" dha here. What do you guys think?

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Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 08-27-2003 09:46     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is a beautiful sword, but a little difficult to classify. It was custom made in 1971?

What stands out to me (aside from the use of elephant tusk, much like the example in the article by Scott Rodell on this site) is the base of the grip with the flare and small guard, which seems to be characteristic of Thai blades. This could be explained by the Laotian connection, the Lao and Thai being closely related (or even the same) tribes.

The scabbard on the other hand has a Burmese look, with the flare at the tip and the chased silver cover (compare with this reproduction/touristy burmese dha, which admitted only has a slight flare at the tip).

Leaving aside the scabbard, I would classify it as Thai due to the length of the grip and the form of the guard, which puts it in the Shan category. However, since there seem to be a couple features that are typically "Thai," I wonder if yet another class (or sub-class) is needed? This is what drives me nuts, but also what I love, about dha -- the bewildering variety.

[This message has been edited by Mark Bowditch (edited 08-27-2003).]

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