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-   -   Bird shaped sword - A question to the Dah experts (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2324)

Oriental-Arms 2nd May 2006 09:35 AM

Bird shaped sword - A question to the Dah experts
 
Recently we stumbled on these two Dah (?) swords (Different places and times):



The wood scabbard is carved in the style of a bird body with the handle as the bird head:



And a close ups of the handles:



Blades 16 and 17 inches. Well forged, rather heavy and thick with a false back edge. One of the hilts is horn and one wood. Metal mounts are brass and iron. Total length 29 and 30 inches. One of the swords has an old illegible label of a store or a collection with good age on it.

Any ideas on origin and age??

Andrew 2nd May 2006 01:33 PM

Hi Artzi. Those are interesting things. I've not seen anything similar before.

Is there something in particular that makes you think "dha" when you handle these?

Oriental-Arms 2nd May 2006 02:32 PM

Hi Andrew

No good answer really. A little bit from the blade shape and a lot of intuition, but nothing to substantiate it

Rick 2nd May 2006 02:50 PM

Hi Artzi ,
Maybe a closer look at the carving on the scabbards can suggest the style of a particular culture .

Not a Dhafioso but when I first looked at them I was reminded a little of Pacific Northwest Native American work . :confused:

Most unusual .

fearn 2nd May 2006 06:08 PM

Hi All,

I'm not in the dhafia either, but Stone's Glossary has one of these blades pictured as a dha (fig. 257, p. 207, caption:"horn hilt and wood scabbard carved in the form of a conventional bird."). We haven't seen anything like this from the dhaphiles, but if Stone's correct (not 100% certain), this is another type of dha. It would have been nice if he'd provided some more source or size information...

F

Oriental-Arms 2nd May 2006 06:20 PM

Great Fearn and thanks. It is ages since I opened Stone to look for a blade. We should do it more frequently.

fearn 2nd May 2006 10:26 PM

You're quite welcome Artzi.

I guess the "good" news is that Stone's image doesn't look to be one of your blades, so at least three of this dha type have been made. Now, if someone would come forward with more information on them.

Since you've brought it forward, perhaps you'd like to name it? Personally, I think they look like cranes or herons (a heron dha?). For us Yanks, those birds look like loons, so they could be considered loony dhas, I suppose... :D

F

Andrew 3rd May 2006 12:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
Hi All,

I'm not in the dhafia either, but Stone's Glossary has one of these blades pictured as a dha (fig. 257, p. 207, caption:"horn hilt and wood scabbard carved in the form of a conventional bird."). We haven't seen anything like this from the dhaphiles, but if Stone's correct (not 100% certain), this is another type of dha. It would have been nice if he'd provided some more source or size information...

F



Great call, Fearn! :)

Andrew 3rd May 2006 12:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriental-Arms
Hi Andrew

No good answer really. A little bit from the blade shape and a lot of intuition, but nothing to substantiate it


No suprise that your intuition was dead-on. :)

I've never seen one of these before, and you come up with two! Outstanding.

Perhaps PUFF can shed some light on where this form originates.

PUFF 3rd May 2006 10:37 AM

Neither I 'm :(
From the first glance, I do not recognize these pieces as a Dha/Dahb.
Typical Dha seems to share upward hilt characteristic while these two pieces have downward one. This means the blades might be designed for a different martial art (or for tourist). IMHO: These two pieces are unlikely to be Dha/Dahb. Could it be islandic or african?

Andrew 3rd May 2006 01:23 PM

Hi Puff. In my experience, downward-turned hilts do appear on some dha hmyaung. Perhaps these are from Burma?

Ian 3rd May 2006 05:47 PM

Puzzling but I think Chinese
 
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Never seen these motifs on dha before and the overall "balance" of the pieces seems odd for dha. While the blades would fit with small dha, the streamlined carving of the birds, extending into the scabbard, seems wrong for mainland SE Asia. Apart from Buddhist symbols, deities and demons, we see little animal or bird representation on edged weapons in the region.

The interpretations on Artzi's pieces seem quite literal and look like cranes. This suggests more of a Chinese influence to me, where cranes have special significance in terms of long life and associated wisdom.

In Feng Shui a Chinese crane painting symbolizes long life that increases in wisdom. Along with the phoenix, the crane is the most important bird in Chinese legend and art.

Ian.


Picture of Chinese Cranes



fearn 4th May 2006 01:12 AM

Hi Ian,

I did suggest a crane motif, but just to play devil's advocate, the sword with the brass ferrule (bottom in first photo, top in second) has short legs and a long tail, suggesting that (perhaps) it's a stylized peacock or maybe hornbill. That would indicate a south Asian origin. The crane/heron is suggested mostly by the long bill, and for all we know, these are supposed to be woodpeckers or kingfishers. I know, they don't have the crests, but it's hard to tell.

Personally, with that brass ferrule, I tend to think they are from SE Asia, and I suspect that they're more for show than for fighting or work.

Fearn

athena 4th May 2006 03:10 AM

Well, these two don't look like Chinese.

I have a large variation of Chinese arms, but haven't seen such design. Other people, like Japanese also love crane deeply, they may be from other countries. :)

Justin 4th May 2006 11:17 PM

From the pics it looks like the birds have long tails,is that the case? I think if they do they are probably something more unusual ,I dont know of a bird off hand that really resembles the ones on the swords.

Very interesting swords,I hope we can determine where they are from,they do look somewhat dha-like but they also have a lot of features that could be from anywhere.

fearn 5th May 2006 04:53 AM

On the side topic of dhas with odd handles, I've seen a dha with a staghorn handle on the web. Does any member have one of these staghorn dhas, or at least pics? The reason I'm asking is that, as I recall, the blade and mounting of the one I saw were similar to the hardware on these bird blades, and it might be useful for a comparison, especially if the staghorn dha had a provenance. Now, if I could only remember where I saw them....

F

Mark 5th May 2006 03:02 PM

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I immediately thought of the picture in Stone, too. It is such an odd-ball among the other ones he pictures. One thought I had was to contact the Met and ask what they have on that particular sword. As I understand it, most (or all) of Stone's personal collection is there, so that dha might be as well. Of course, Stone was not always right in his attributions.

The blades look like long versions of a type of SEA utility knife (like the one Avner had at Timonium). They were discussed in another thread that I will find in a minute.

*Found it: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2067; the knives are called "meed hnep." Looking at the pair again, it looks to me that the top one in the first picture definitely has a long tail, while the lower one appears to have a short tail. Also, the top has a distinctly curved beak, while the lower is more-or-less straight. So, they might represent different birds - the top a peacock and the bottom a crane. Finally, this would not be the first dha I have seen with a downwardly curved blade and handle:

This one is Burmese, supporting the peacock theory, and there are is one, also in an Oldman catalogue, classified as Burmese, a picture of which I am adding below.*

As for peacock versus heron, the shape of the heads looks more crane-like, with the long beak and bulbous forhead, but I checke out some pictures of peacocks on the net, and its not too much of a stretch. The bodies carved into the scabbard, however, could easily be those of peacock.
http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/photo...ges/peacock.htm
http://www.gamebird.com/peacock.html (scroll down to the second picture on the right side).

The thing about the peacock is that it is the national symbol of Burma, and of the old monarchy, so there would be more significance to a peacock than to a crane, at least in Burmese culture. I am not aware of either being of any particular significance in either Siamese or Lao culture.

Mark 5th May 2006 03:19 PM

By the way, what can you tell us about the blades? Are they tempered, or laminated, or edge hardened? I can't see too much from the photos, but there looks like a hint of either inserted-edge or sandwich construction, or edge tempering, on both.

VANDOO 5th February 2008 03:59 PM

LOOKING AT THIS TREAD AGAIN REMINDED ME OF A SIMULAR TYPE OF SWORD. THE JAPANESE HAVE SWORDS SAID TO BE CARRIED BY DOCTORS THESE WERE CARVED IN THE FORM OF VARIOUS TYPES OF ANIMALS THE HANDLE WAS ALWAYS THE HEAD AND THE SCABBARD THE BODY. THEY WERE USUALLY THE SIZE OF THE SHORTER JAPANESE SWORD OR PERHAPS A BIT SHORTER. I HAVE SEEN DRAGONS AND FISH REPRESENTED AND PERHAPS BIRDS SO THIS SWORD COULD BE ONE CARRIED BY SOME SPECIFIC PROFESSION ,DOCTORS FOR INSTANCE IN BURMA OR ONE OF THE OTHER COUNTRYS. THE SWORD WOULD IDENTIFY THE PERSONS PROFESSION AND COULD BE LEGALLY CARRIED EVEN THOUGH HE WAS NOT SAMURAI AS IT WAS IN JAPAN.

Jens Nordlunde 5th February 2008 04:06 PM

Maybe the MET can help, as most, if not all, of the Stone collection went into this museum.


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