vikingsword.com forums
  Ethnographic Edged Weapons
  Conversation with a Dha maker

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

UBBFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Conversation with a Dha maker
wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-04-2004 11:31     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found my notes and more importantly some time, so I'll throw this info out for the "smart" Dha guys to decipher. Again this info comes from a conversation with Lung Som (Boonsam Srisuk) on two different days 3 hours one day and about an hour the next. No order to this, just bullets of info.

Lung Som is 57 now and a 4th generation sword maker. He pretty much owns the entire village there in Aranyik but he still gets his hands dirty on a regular basis. As a young man he was given a royal commission and when he presented the sword to the king, the king gave him a mandate to keep traditional sword making alive in Thailand. He has made several swords for the royal family and has the pictures to prove it throughout his shop.

When asked how I could tell where an old dha was from, he replied that there has been so much intermingling of peoples that it is difficult for even him to tell sometimes, but generally if the spine is straight (or straighter) it is probably from Burma, slightly curved from Thailand, and a more pronounced curve from Laos. The more detail work (he said carving and tooling) it's more likely to come from Laos as that's where all the more intricate styles came from when the Laotion smiths and silversmiths moved into Thailand and settled in Chiang Mai and Lampang (north), Uttaradit (north central), across the border from Vientain (northeast),Ayutthaya (central) and Nakhon Si Thamarat (south). BTW his story closely parallels the book I picked up on the history of Thai silverware.

I asked him about handle length. His reply was that handle length was purely a personal preference, he's made many swords with like blades and different type handles. Here he paused and added after a little more thought, shorter handles along with shorter blades were used in pairs (the shorter blades so that they could be drawn from the scabbards slung across the back). I asked about krabi krabong here and he replied "exactly". Longer handles and blades were meant to be worn to the side. The really long handles were used as a shield of sorts. Here he actually got out an older blade with a long handle and demonstrated by showing me how to hold the sword at the guard and lay the handle back along my forearm to protect my elbow.

I had found this display at a sword dealer's in Ayutthaya and asked Lung Som about the blade types. (Note: these are made by Lung Som's crew and are pretty much the same blade except for the head types) All were used during the early Ayutthaya period.

He refered to them by head (tip) type.
From top to bottom
Hua Lu guy (issued by king to leadership)
Hua Lem or Hua Darb
Hua Bua
Hua Tat or Hua Chuey
Hua Tat Khong

some other nomeclature;
handle= daam
guard= grabang
scabbard= faak

I asked him if I could tell where a sword was made by the head type. His answer was, IMHO opinion, a little self serving. He said that ALL these styles of swords had been made in Ayutthaya at one time or another. That it depended on what village was going to war and/or what king was having the armory stocked. Some kings wanted all their soldiers to have a certain identifiable style while at other times they had to fill their armories with whatever the local smiths could quickly and effeciently produce.

Finally I showed him the two swords I had brought, both of which had the brass insert on the spine and several notches on either side of the insert. They also had the little "S" stamps on the blade. He immediately said they were 30-50 years old and from Lampang (north). He said the notches didn't mean anything that they just put them in as decoration and that both swords were made for the tourist trade. He mentioned that those little "S" are also a give-away as they were just stamped any old place and not even symetrical. This is when he showed mean how to take a file and find out if the swords were hardened - neither were.

About this time my wife walked off saying that her head was about to explode and she was NOT going translate the entire sword making history of Thailand. As my Thai is not up to discussing history I graciously thanked him and took my leave.

I posted this hoping it would help fill in some holes for y'all, for me it's mostly ALL holes. I also hope you realize that this was a three way translation and I've used my own words to put down what "I" believe was the jist of the conversation. I will be returning to the Kingdom Tuesday for a week, with a rather full schedule I can't promise anything, but if you have specific questions I'll try to get some answers.
Regards,
Dan

[This message has been edited by wilked (edited 07-11-2004).]

[This message has been edited by wilked (edited 07-13-2004).]

IP: Logged

tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 07-04-2004 12:13     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good feild report. Thanks.
It's easy to test the degree of hardness of an edge with a sharp file, however, it is harder to tell whether it is hardened by htis method, as it is not uncommon for old hardened steel edges to be rather soft by modern Western standards.

[This message has been edited by tom hyle (edited 07-04-2004).]

IP: Logged

RhysMichael
Senior Member
posted 07-04-2004 16:29     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great stuff to know Dan. Thanks so much I have added the tip types to the data I have stored.

IP: Logged

Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-04-2004 23:00     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dan, you are the man!

Thank you so much. This is extremely useful information and, as RhysMichael indicates, will be filed under "useful stuff" in my dha/darb research archives.

Now, if we can only convince you to take a trip to Myanmar....

I owe you an email response, and I'll get back to you soon: I'm on vacation this week.

Best,

Andrew

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2004 06:47     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Tom on that hardening tip. I tried it on recent made dha and one Lung Som said was 80-100 and I did get a higher pitch on the newer one. Must be a better grade of blow drier they are using these days. Memory Jog! I forgot to mention they have the bamboo bellows on site, two of them a large and small, however they dont use them anymore. I went to 4 smithies while I was there and they all used inverted blow-driers to stoke the coals.

Andrew, I tried to get into Burma a couple of years ago, near Kanchanaburi (Karen territory) the Thai border guards took one look at my official passport and told me NO GO! We're actually not supposed to be within 50 KM of the border without permission, but I was on leave and now I'm pretty sure none of my superiors will ever read this. Guess I'll have to wait till I retire.

Dan

IP: Logged

Ian
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2004 08:23     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dan:

Very useful information. Thanks for sharing this with us -- it takes us a little further along the road to understanding the Thai darb. His description of the contemporary Thai swords with the notched spines and S-shaped designs, and their specific site of manufacture, is very helpful. I will add that information to the lengthy discussion we had about these swords.

A few quick and simple questions for your friend. First, when he speaks of "Burmese," does he distinguish the Shan as separate from the Burmese, and what style of sword does he recognize as coming from the Shan?

Also, is he familiar with a specific style of sword attributed to the Karen people, or any of the other ethnic minorities in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia or Laos? He may already have answered this one by saying that the styles are all mixed up, but I'm more interested about styles in the past than the present.

Can he tell us at what point (during whose reign) the Thai sword passed from its straight leaf-shaped predecessor (as exemplified by the Sword of Victory in the Thai Crown Jewels -- I'm sure he would be familiar with that sword) to its more saber-like present form?

And finally, does he know of any books or pictures that would help us identify the origins of older swords (19th C or earlier)?

Thanks again, Dan, for a very interesting post and I hope you can get more information from this reliable source. Perhaps he knows of other sword makers in other parts of Thailand or neighboring countries who could help us also.

As far as getting into Burma, I explored this several years ago and was told quite emphatically that unless an official in Burma issued a specific invitation, it was almost impossible to gain access to the country. Now, that was back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and things may be a little looser now, but a Burmese student here in Minnesota told me the situation is probably much the same as before.

Having strong opinions about the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese Government probably did not help my attempts to get there either.

Ian.

[This message has been edited by Ian (edited 07-05-2004).]

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2004 21:43     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your one post has added more hard information to my notes than nearly two years of searching and reading about Thai & Burmese history and ethnography. It really demonstates how indispensable it is to go right to the source for information.

Thanks!

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2004 21:52     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some questions to add to Ian's (hopefully not too duplicative).

-Is there even such a thing as a "Shan" or a "Kachin" sword? By this I mean, who makes them? Do various tribes make their own swords but have an intermingling of styles, or are swords generally made by a particular group(s) and supplied to other tribes? If so, do swords get made-to-order according to the client's preference, or made according to the smith's preference and the "client" gets what he can get?

-Along a similar line, I understand that at least in the Burmese highlands various apparently distinct ethnic/cultural groups live in very close proximity. Is it more proper to speak of "regional" styles (e.g., northern Thai, eastern Burmese, central Laos, etc.) rather than ethnic styles (such as Kachin, Shan, Palaung or whatever)?

-Are blades made one place, then fitted or decorated according to local tastes?

-Is it true that most of the contemporary smiths in Thailand are of Chinese decent, or at least learned their craft from Chinese smiths? I have read an article that said that all the Ayutthayan smiths were slaughtered by the Burmese at one point, and replaced over time by Chinese smiths (Chinese Tai?).

I need to update my web site, methinks...

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2004 10:40     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All right I'll take all this for action. I'm trying to convince my boss that Thais don't work on the weekend (mostly true) and we should use that time for some cultural enrichment (like go to Aranyik and check on my swords) If I don't get it this time I'll get it when I return in October. I'll at least try and pick up the information pamphlet from the National museum and find the guy who wrote it. Much of what you ask would probably be better answered by a smith in northern Thailand (I don't know how much travelling Lung Som has done besides BKK) But I'll ask anyway, you can't have too many sources.
Lastly thank you Ian for reposting that thread on contemporary dha. I must've missed it when I did my searches. I'm extremely pleased to see that what I worried might be unsubstantiated "beer talk" actually supported very accurately your (or should I just include all the "Dha Guys") research and conclusions.
Ian, the wife should have mailed the preist knife posters today. One set left, Andrew? Marc? Haven't heard from you.

[This message has been edited by wilked (edited 07-06-2004).]

IP: Logged

Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-06-2004 17:53     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll take one, Dan! (Mark, I'll have my exhibit vendor make a copy for you)

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2004 19:33     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
DOH! Check your e-mail, Dan.

BTW, don't feel pressured to get all these answers during your precious spare time in Thailand. For one thing we don't want to annoy the Mrs., and for another, we don't want to annoy your boss!

IP: Logged

Ian
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2004 22:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dan:

Thanks for all your time and effort. Like Mark, I don't want to create any domestic problems for you. Appreciate the poster in the mail.

We try to work as a team. The "dha guys" are an unspecified number of enthusiasts who try to unravel the mysteries of these swords, by peering through keyholes at fragments of the truth. Having someone, such as yourself, on the ground to help is a great boon. BTW, you qualify for membership too.

Regards,

Ian.

IP: Logged

Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-07-2004 11:37     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I second Ian's motion for Dan's membership. (Sounded like a motion to me.... )

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-07-2004 12:32     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Damn, Membership in the "Dha Guys" now the pressure is really on. Don't worry about the wife she is a champ and actually very thrilled with my interest in Thai history (when I'm not around bugging her for translation or buying swords). I'm in limbo as to my schdule till tomorrow, gotta tell you though, it is amazing that they ever won a battle after the last day's "Death by Powerpoint" briefings, These generals can talk an issue to death, I had to keep from endorsing Nike all day by refraining from yelling "Just Do It". The only thing that kept me going was the statue out front that was a former king mounted on an elephant surrounded by double dha weilding guards. Pictures to follow. Will try to get to museum tomorrow.
Dan

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-08-2004 10:25     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Didn't get the picture but maybe you'll forgive me as I made it to the museum. I talked my way into the museum after closing hours only to get caught by security and after a very short but impassioned plea was redirected to the Directors office (Mr Somchai Na Nakhonphanom). While waiting I glanced over the shoulder of one of the librarians to find her perusing pages concerning anciet Thai weapons. With this poor woman firmly in tow I entered the Directors office and proceded to break every rule of a good meeting, remembering 5 minutes into my diatribe that I hadn't even introduced myself yet. Only in Thailand would they have been gracious enough to listen to this foreigner caught wandering the museum after hours. But enough of the lead-up.

I now have a copy of the Ancient weapons chapter of the "Heritage of Thai Culture" book published in 1993. It contains descriptions and use of most Thai striking, fencing, and shooting weapons (their catagories) with descriptions (sadly few pictures) usage and in mainy cases derivative lineage. Dha of course is still lacking detail. I will make copies (bout 30 pages)and send them out to those that wish one when I return home 17 July. (email me).

Even better I have the contact information for the senior curator who put together their weapons display and was assitant editor of the book.

The pamphlet I saw the last time I was there was their exihibit register and the Director was reluctant to let me have a copy. He did however offer to due a report on the swords in his collection that will cite type and provenance (I forgot to ask if it would have pictures). He said he could have this ready for us by my return in August. He did ask that if you publish the museum get credit and that there be a free exchange of all knowledge with the museum so that they may benefit from your efforts also. Guys here's where I need to ask a favor, I've never started nor finished a meeting with less credibility, I think only my obvious enthusiasm and my stumbling Thai got me this far. If you could please send Mr Somchai (Thais go by first names) a letter or email of introduction stating our purposes and goals it would go a long way to convince him of the scholarly nature of this endevour and show him I just wasn't some loonie. I really wasn't prepared today (just trying to beat the clock and get some copies) and probably didn't articulate these things as well as I should. I think the reinforcement of your letters will also have a direct affect on the quality of material we get from Mr Somchai. He really is going out of his way for us and I kept him past closing time. Of course I gave him the forum information and asked him to join. I've passed on his personal contact info to some of you as he didn't give me permission to post it.

All in all, a pretty DAMN exciting day!!

Khun Dang (Thai alias)

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-08-2004 10:29     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Forgot, the copies are from the English version, and Mr Somchai's English is just fine.

IP: Logged

RhysMichael
Senior Member
posted 07-08-2004 12:07     Click Here to See the Profile for RhysMichael   Click Here to Email RhysMichael     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again for all the great work. I cannot wait to see the copies. If you want a letter from me please let me know the address and I will send one. But that being said I am more of an observer in most of the work being done on dha. I would love to see him join the forum and contribute to our studies here. Boy, would that be a coup.

IP: Logged

Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-08-2004 16:15     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's fantastic news, Dan. Great work!

Gentlemen, I'll send the regular "dha guys" an email tonight with my thoughts on how we should introduce ourselves. I've got a friend who is a museum director who may be able to help us structure our letter for the best possible result.

Until later, best regards,
Andrew

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-08-2004 16:44     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is just fantastic! I'll be happy to write to Mr. Somchai and lend whatever credibility I can to your inquiries. Very exciting progress, indeed.

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-11-2004 13:57     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check for corrections I've made in terminology above.

Some questions answered more raised. As we search through the void of knowledge out there it is important to make sure your sources are accurate. I tested Lung Som yesterday with mixed results and found another dealer today that reinforces what The Dha Guys have already suspected. Let me first say that Lung Som is a very generous and giving man and does not want to disappoint (which may be why he overestimated his knowledge), however he is not a historian nor has he done extensive research or travel, his focus is on making NEW blades. With that said he does possess much institutional knowledge about his craft and has done historical research of some extent on the Ayutthaya period for the movie "Suriyothai" for which he made the weapons. Please filter what he says within these boundaries. I spent about 4 hours asking him your questions and getting his comments on the pictures I brought. I've only included the info that he seemed quick and confident about. Sorry you'll just have to trust my "bullshit" filters.

Some terms of reference before I begin.
Throughout the conversation Lung Som referred to Thailand and anything above the Uttadit/Phitsanoluk/Lampang/Chiangmai line as if they were different countries. This area used to be part of Burma.
He referred to Vientaine as if it was part of Thailand. It used to be a colony.
He referred to Supanburi often and as if its influence spannned well into southern Burma. That border has always been fluid and in contention.
This is important because when he says Supanburi he IS including parts of southern Burma (as we recognize it) and he calls that THAI. Same for the other areas. He considered Vientaine to be THAI.

A few quick and simple questions for your friend. First, when he speaks of "Burmese," does he distinguish the Shan as separate from the Burmese, and what style of sword does he recognize as coming from the Shan?

It became clear the further north the more sketchy his knowledge became, however a dealer, Onsart Jarupathansirikul, (who has been bringing weapons out of Burma for 20 years) said emphatically that Kachin and Shan are NOT the same and Kachin and Chin also have differences he identified these as Shan.





You may have noted that the second one has been id'ed previously by Lung Som as Thai. He also said that the working blades and ceremonial blades are different. The book he had reinforced this showing the "metro" look and identifying it as "ceremonial".

Can he tell us at what point (during whose reign) the Thai sword passed from its straight leaf-shaped predecessor (as exemplified by the Sword of Victory in the Thai Crown Jewels -- I'm sure he would be familiar with that sword) to its more saber-like present form?

Lung Som's answer was that it never changed. That sword style has only ever been used for kings and queens and is only a ceremonial piece since Rama I and Queen Surioyothai. I thought we had evidence of more extensive use prior to that so that may answer your question in a round about way.

And finally, does he know of any books or pictures that would help us identify the origins of older swords (19th C or earlier)?

He gave me photo copies he had from a book out of the Royal Library (they allowed him access to research the movie) it looks to be a catalogue of the royal family's weapons (as many of the weapons actually have names). I'll pass it along with the copies from the museum. Additionally try to find this one:
Burmese Crafts Past & Present
Sylvia Frazer-Lu
Oxford University Press

Is it more proper to speak of "regional" styles (e.g., northern Thai, eastern Burmese, central Laos, etc.) rather than ethnic styles (such as Kachin, Shan, Palaung or whatever)?

Lung Som would have been unable to answer this so I didn't ask, however the other dealer offered this up. He pulled out the book referenced above and showed me on the map of the peoples of the penisula the diferent areas (mapped by tribe) and he referred to the peoples not the regions when he said the weapons are not the same.

Are blades made one place, then fitted or decorated according to local tastes?
He said it was not unusual for parts to come from different areas and be assembled at one location. And yes decoration, scrollwork, silversmithing, etc is usually applied at the asssembly point. Note: They were to send my swords out to another town to have the koftgari done (apparently it's a lost art as they say there is no one left that can do it in Ayutthaya) This leads into another question Mark had reference the turtle symbol.

Finally a definitive answer. He knew of two makers that use a similiar symbol the turtle brand (location unknown) and the "Bitter Melon Seed" (lower mark) that was a joint effort of a Chiang Mai and Aranyik smith. This second company is still in business in Aranyik (unfortunately the friend I brought with to interpret didn't tell me she'd seen the place until we were well on our way home.
Other questions will have to wait as we were all were getting a little tired.
But on to the specific sword comments.

Khun Dang

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-11-2004 14:02     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Originally identified this as from Vientain specifically mentioning that the pattern of scrollwork on this one was Thai.
I showed him the close up of the mark which he identified(Bitter Melon Seed). He suspected it was made at the Chiang Mai location.

He said definately not Thai they don't have that head style nor do they use rope (weave)on their handles.


He said this is made in the style that royalty used in Chiang Mai before it became part of Thailand.


Obviously Burmese (burmese script) - I just saw another like this for sale in Jattachak market today blade very much the same to include the kaftgari on the spine but with the longer handle and lotus pommel and silver tooled scabbard. Of note was that it had been crudely stamped as being presented to an English official "Mr. ... from .... township for service and revenue collection". $750 - outta my price range. REAL nice sword!
more later
KDsan

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-11-2004 14:04     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

He believes Supanburi, Ayutthaya period. Mentioned Khun Paan and that he had a foundness for nice things also that it was an affluent era which produced many items of rich detail.

Says it is Burmese as the the head widens at the tip. Also the dealer I talked with had 3 swords with very similiar type handles, one with a similiar blade that he attributed to Shan State. I did notice that the blades he attributed to Shan had little to no curve in the spine as Lung Som had said. No idea on the puppy mark


Both Burmese. He said the Thais never made a blade shape like the top one and it has burmese script. Of note here is that he had made mention before we got to this one that it was a Burmese trait to pierce through on the carving and metalwork to allow the material underneath to show through. Again he mentioned the amount of bands on the scabbard in direct relation to rank. Now that he mentioned it again I remembered that all the scabbards I saw attributed to royalty were completely covered with a tooled silver or gold sheath. Does that means the more the wood is covered the higher the rank? From rattan to brass to silver to gold with intermediate ranks just having more or more eloborate bands?


Here's where he let me down. We know this was custom made in Laos in 1971. He attributed it to Supanburi, Ayutthaya period, Khun Paan reign.


Definately not Thai as the tang/blade junction isn't squared off he said. lung Tong chimed in that Thais don't use that type of rattan band on their scabbards.

Last two notes before I go to bed. He also insisted that the eight sectioned flower stamp that we see on many blades is DEFINATELY a Thai symbol. When I mentioned that we had found one sword with this symbol and Burmese numbers on the handle he reminded me that Ayutthya fell with pratically no fight - where did all the captured weapons go? - back to Burma with the victors. He said it was probably a captured sword. This makes sense as the museum papers give the breakdown of the Elephant Corps and specifically mentions that some units were outfitted with captured swords.

OK Ian, I need 4 upper levels credits to finish my degree can ya swing anything for a poor research assistant?

Khun Dang

IP: Logged

cylord21
Senior Member
posted 07-12-2004 01:48     Click Here to See the Profile for cylord21   Click Here to Email cylord21     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, dha guys, the story on the custom made 1971 dha is as follow according to all i was told by owner's wife. Previous owner was in Laos in the late 1960s working on the design and construction of a dam project requested by the goverment. During his stay he developed relations with goverment oficials and members of monarchy. At that time he had sword smith "Thit Thong Ratanakorn" from Luang Prabang, Laos, who was also related to monarchy, made the sword for him using style and characters based on ancient laotian monarchy swords he saw during his stay, he left Laos without the sword and was given to him three years later at the return of fellow engineer that was working on the same project. Therefore, if considered a true story, i believe that when Wilked's friend Lung Som attributed this sword to Supanburi, Ayutthaya period, Khun Paan reign, he was not dating the sword's age but dating its style.
Visiting Burma, now Republic of Myanmar, is possible, i went in September 1998 as part of a package trip to Asia. Permission is required, all luggage are very carefully inspected when getting into and out of the country, you have to declare what you bring and what you take out, documents are compared, cannot move around without a guide, ours was most friendly like most people we met, most items cannot be taken out of the country unless declared and have permission, severe jail penalty if caught. Universities were all close down indefinitely after students strike. Wonderful country and culture to see. We were a group of seven people, none of them interested in swords but me, so hunting for them was unfortunately not on their tight schedule, except for the ones on museums. Found working dhas on the way but only one quality dha with inlay caracters on blade and silver mounted wood scabard owned by man that gave us a dinner dancing show with girls and extensive use of the sword, dancing reminds characters that appears on blade stories, asked for but the sword was not for sale, good swords should be found but don't know if they are allowed to be taken out. The Burma visit included Yangon, Bago, Bagan, Mandalay, Heho, Shan State and Inle Lake.

My compliments to the work time and efford done.

[This message has been edited by cylord21 (edited 07-13-2004).]

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-12-2004 12:12     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a point of clarification: Lung Som said that the spear-point dha with the mesh handle was definitely *not* Thai? Would this tip not be considered "hua bua," then? Rick Stroud's dha has a similar tip, though less acute, and Lung Som ID'd it as Thai.

Just trying to get the parameters of the tip definitions.

I have to say again THANK YOU Dan; you have provided so much hard information and snagged great source material. I feel there is a glimmer or two of light in the dark room now. Just having some of our suspicions confirmed or refuted has been tremendously helpful.

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2004 09:50     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cylord, Ratanakorn is a Thai name - something to think about and Luang Prabang and Luang Namtha sure sound like Thai derivative names and different than most other city names in Laos.

Mark, hua bua differs from the spear point tip in that the spearpoint tapers to a point. The hua bua is almost a rounded tip with a small upswept tit. The upswept tip was also noted on many of the preist knife blades also.
Dang look at that I'm starting to sound like I actually know what I'm talking about - NOT!
Khun Dang out!

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2004 10:32     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Got it. So that little upsweep is the distinguishing feature. It is interesting that both hua bua and hua lu guy have that little upsweep (BTW, I assume "hua" means "tip" or "head" or "point" or something similar). This is obviously a significant feature to Thai swordsmiths, since it so defininatively distinguishes a Thai blade from an otherwise identical Burmese blade.

Luang Prabang and Luang Namtha I think would be considered "Tai" names, since those Laotian city/kingdoms were established by ethnic Tai, the same group that became the "Shan" in Burma and the "Thai" in Thailand. One source that I have read stated that the Lao states were established by Thailand (Siam) in the mid-18th century as buffer states between Siam and Viet Nam.

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2004 10:44     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You got it hua means head. I updated the info on head types (Lung Som corrected me). I didn't notice that Hua lu guy had an upswept tip, have you seen some that did?

Thanks for the history lesson. That explains it. Couldn't get me to study history when I was younger and now I seem to do nothing but that (and a few rounds of golf).

IP: Logged

Mark Bowditch
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2004 13:39     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Bowditch   Click Here to Email Mark Bowditch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The hua lu guy example in your photo has a very slight pointy protrusion (best seen by looking at the shadow it casts in the 2nd photo, actually). We have seen this in a couple other "sheep's head" examples, such as Andrew's Ayutthaya dha, and to an ever-so-slight degree in my example of the same type. There was a thread about that tip feature -- if I can find it I'll add the link.

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-14-2004 12:25     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AHH I SEE! Said the blind man. This is why I'm just the research assistant.

IP: Logged

Andrew
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-14-2004 15:10     Click Here to See the Profile for Andrew   Click Here to Email Andrew     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dan, I've incorporated some of the information (tip shapes, etc.) you've provided on this thread into my portion of the much-neglected article Ian, Mark and I are authoring. You'll get full credit.

Any chance you could get us a photograph of Lung Som?

IP: Logged

wilked
Senior Member
posted 07-15-2004 12:00     Click Here to See the Profile for wilked   Click Here to Email wilked     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was saving it for the thread I was gonna put together on my new sword pair when they are finished, "from concept to presentation" but since you asked (and it will get face in forum again ) Here you go.

Lung Tong on the left (70 years old and primary silversmith and carver) steely-eyed killer center and Lung Som right. BTW "Lung" is just an honorific (means literally Uncle) used to respectfully address anyone who is old enough to be your Dad (or a priest).
I'll get cleaner shots when I pick up the blades.
Dan

[This message has been edited by wilked (edited 07-15-2004).]

IP: Logged

All times are ET (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | Ethnographic Edged Weapons Resource Site | Privacy Statement

Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of a nonexclusive license for display here.

Powered by Infopop www.infopop.com © 2000
Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47d