Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   What makes a dha a dha (

Ian 8th January 2005 05:39 AM

Looking forward to seeing Dan ...
in Manila. I'm hoping he will have a passion for Filipino weapons too. Somehow Dan has a nose for the information that eludes so many of us for so long.


tom hyle 8th January 2005 01:30 PM

[QUOTE=wilked aka Khun Den et me ask you if this aspect is a substantial variance in construction; most of the SEA "swords" that I've seen have the base of the blade and the tang held in place with a form of pitch, even the ones from central Thailand, however most of the "dual-use blades" that I've seen have a brass or iron ferrule hammered down over the wood/rattan handle which holds the blade in place through friction and many have had shims hammered in to tighten them up. Is that a significant difference?

Yeah, it is. So significant I actually am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it, or believing it, actually. Are you sure? One does see distinct, what I'd call tribal or cultural differences between peasant culture and middle class and aristocratic culture, and this could be one. The ones I've seen, the ferule by and large must be applied before the blade is seated, not as part of that process (as the the ferule is narrower than the blade, though it's possible the last bit of it is driven on as you describe.). My initial guess would be that the pitch tends more to "give" and get field repairs with wedges on the using blades, giving the appearance that it was never there. I don't know; that's an odd situation there. One potential explanation would be the concept of "fit"; the pitch being used as gap-sealer on fancier pieces; similar to how in Europe abruptly thicker blade than tang is used as a feature to cover the tang hole in the guard, and is seen only on "over culture" (industrial, modern, aristocratic, whatever it likes to call itself) blades interested in the concept of "fit & finish", not on traditional blacksmith made blades.
As to the dual use thing; I don't think that's the division; AFAIK most of the larger "sword" dhas are dual use, with only the fanciest being assumed to be weapons only, and that more an assumption about the user (professional soldier or nobleman) than about the sword, really, which is designed and built in the same manner.
Truly, you find this division in construction between plain feild grade sword dhas and the shorter rural swords? How sure are you about this? Anyone else?

tom hyle 8th January 2005 01:33 PM

BTW, I've got an arit brought back from the Vietnam war, and the tang is in with a wad of black cloth, similar to what we see with oceanic SE Asian blades. The guy said he got it in Chu Lai; is that a town?

tom hyle 8th January 2005 02:29 PM

More thinking, Japanese work knives (including some that are really swords) tend to be in with tightness/friction only, whereas the fighting swords have pins. Maybe the thinking is that it's easier to reseat the blade on a work knife, as no one is trying to kill you while you do it, and thus less energy put into a positive connection?

wilked aka Khun Deng 8th January 2005 11:47 PM

I relooked the three working blades I have handy and all three are set by friction (all have iron ferrules). One is as you described however, the blade at the ricasso is slightly wider than the ferrule so the ferrule could not have been hammered down over it and the others don't show any sign that they were either. Makes me wonder just how they actually set the blade in the handle. Pounded the handle onto the blade? Another question that will have to wait as I have a plane to catch. Later all!

Thanks Tom

tom hyle 9th January 2005 11:49 PM

Thanks for the report. We could be looking at evidence that the narrow dhas were traditionally made by specialized cutlrs with slightly diffrnt practices and customs?

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