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thomas hauschild 29th July 2018 10:50 AM

Kachin dao questions
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I have got a kachin dao with scabbard. The scabbard seems to be a bit long. I have seen other pictures , all with „bigger“ scabbards but if would go into the woods I would prefer to have a scabbard as short as possible. What do you mean ? I do not think that it is a newer one. The wear on the wood of the scabbard inside looks that the dao was used with this scabbard for a long time. On the picture together with my other kachin dao.

Best Thomas

ariel 29th July 2018 11:26 AM

Interesting question that I have never asked myself.
I saw quite a lot of them and owned some, but to the best of my recollection they all had the same disproportionately long scabbards.
I see your point about shorter ones, but perhaps the original owners had something special in mind that eludes us.

Lee 29th July 2018 12:59 PM

Please note also similar proportions between dao and scabbard in the top photograph here. My own experience is the same as that reported by ariel.

Tim Simmons 29th July 2018 01:52 PM

Me too.

Sajen 29th July 2018 02:50 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Hello Thomas,

the oversized scabbards for Kachin daos are very normal and I am nearly sure that the scabbard from your one is made for the blade.

Here some examples from Oriental Arms and a picture taken from the book "Burma, Frontier Photographs 1918-1935" where you can see that this swords are very big/long for their former owners.


Ian 29th July 2018 03:53 PM


As you can see, several experienced people have noted that your example seems to be the norm with regard to the relative lengths of Kachin sword-dao and their open-faced sheaths. This has been my experience too.

This is seen also on the longer swords in open-faced scabbards used by the Lisau (ethnicaly related to the Kachin), who live mainly in Yunnan, and among some groups in Assam.

Incidentally, the same sword-dao is often attributed to the Naga--and the Naga do use these swords occasionally--but they were all made by the Kachin as far as I know and obtained by the Naga through trade, battle, or otherwise "appropriated." The example you show is typical of the traditional sword of the Kachin. However, during the mid- to late-19th C. the Kachin steadily switched to straight or curved swords made by the Shan, some of which were adorned with silver. Most of these Shan swords had the usual Burmese three-part hilt of a central piece made of wood/bone/ivory/etc. flanked by two metal ferrules of iron/brass/silver. Why this change occurred is unclear, but the transition was reported by a British administrator in Burma during the 1890s who noted that use the older sword-dao was limited largely to the northern areas of the Kachin territory at that time. [My books are presently 8000 miles away, but I will put that British informant's name and the reference here when I next find it.]


thomas hauschild 29th July 2018 06:56 PM

Thank you all for the information. The picture which shows how to wear it is quite interesting. The wood-side to the front. My first thoughts were, yes they are looking now greater than the blades are.

Thank you all

Best Thomas

Ian 3rd August 2018 08:46 AM

Hi Thomas,

Just to follow up on my post above. The comment that I referenced is as follows:
"The true Kachin sword is now rarely seen south of Myitkyina and Mogaung. The Shan article is in common use." O. Hanson. The Kachin: their customs and traditions. 1913, p. 47.

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