Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
-   Ethnographic Weapons (
-   -   Two swords I have that I know nothing about. (South-East Asian/West-African) (

Kjertesvein 25th October 2017 08:49 AM

Two swords I have that I know nothing about. (South-East Asian/West-African)
8 Attachment(s)
Hello sword-aficionados. I have two swords laying around. I know next to nothing about South-East Asian/West-African bladed weapons.

First is a , south-east asian, which is what sparks the most of my attention. It was discovered in the ventilation while renovating my new apartment. The person who owned the apartment before me was an older, short geek who probably never left his own apartment, according to my father who worked with him in IT. The old man died, and now the sword passed on to me. Not much information, but the markings on the blade might give some hint to it's place of origin.

The Dah is a curved blade. It was very dirty and rusty, but I've cleaned it up a bit. The blade was sharp. It has several wave like engravings all along the blade, as well as a larger "chopped horse shoe" right above the handle. The lines along the sides of the blade creates the allusion of fullers, they're not deep. There's also a gilded surface on the back of the blade, right above the handle. The cross-section is triangular closes to the hilt, gradually leading up to a flat cross section at the top. The weapon is light and nimble in the hand.

Blade is 55 cm.
Sword is 84 cm.
I'll add exact weight tomorrow, but I suspect ~300-400 gram.

Second sword we bought 24 years ago in the Ivory Coast. The handle feels unwieldy to grip, it wasn't sharpen originally and the blade is flat like a sheet from tip to grip (lacks any dynamic cross section). It weighs ~1 kilo. Because of the things mentioned, I fear it's a tourist trap. Still, interesting design.

From what I've searched, swords I've seen from this part of the world tend to be straight, not curved. I'm leaning towards "meh" in terms of significance, but I have no idea to be honest. Due to the rich engravings, it could be, or perhaps based on, a (ceremonial) sword for all I know.

Never been cleaned or sharpened. It feels sluggish to wave around, and the grip is "unnatural" to hold firmly, due to the shape of the grip.

Blade is 61 cm.
Sword is 90 cm.

Blade is 21 cm.
Knife is 35 cm.


Jim McDougall 28th October 2017 12:41 PM

Hi Wille,,
Welcome to the forum!!!!
The first sword is as noted a dha, and while modern, very much a keenly representative ethnographic piece. It is remarkably similar to one I had which was a 'bringback' from Viet Nam in the early 60s..right down to the blade markings.
I do not have the notes at hand at the moment, but I did contact a noted Army officer who was in Viet Nam in 61-62, and recognized the form.
I then contacted a professor at UCLA who had written on Montagnard tribes in Viet Nam in particular the Hmong.

She approached elders of some of these tribes who recognized my dha which was as noted, strikingly similar to yours. They recognized it and some notes about the markings, which decidedly placed it to regions in Laos.
I do not recall the tribe noted, but will in a few weeks when I can get to notes.

These Montagnard tribes were valuable allies to our forces in Viet Nam, and many came to the US after the war.

The second item is I am afraid as you suspected, a souvenier item probably fro Saharan tribes, and quite modern, though made very much in the spirit of much older traditional weapons of the last century.

Sajen 28th October 2017 02:21 PM

Sorry Jim,

I think the dha/daab is Thai in origin, see for example here:


Ian 28th October 2017 05:33 PM

Hi Wille:

The SE Asian daab is indeed Thai, as Sajen has indicated. More specifically, northern Thai and there is a thread that dealt with these on the old UBB site of this Forum. It can be found here.

The markings are discussed in detail on that thread.


Ren Ren 28th October 2017 09:20 PM

1 Attachment(s)
The sword from collection of leutnant de Hoym de Marien (deceased January 1888 - Tonkin), explorer of Northern Vietnam and Laos.

Jim McDougall 29th October 2017 03:28 AM

Sajen and Ian,
Thank you so much for the correction. Its been quite a few years since the research and even seeing the weapon I had, but I know the markings were the same. While it seemed compelling having the opinions of an academic and with other corroboration, it certainly could have been misperceived or assumed data.
I know you guys know these weapons well, and have pretty vast exposure and experience, so I appreciate the input and will adjust my notes accordingly.
That's what this place is about, learning!!!

All times are GMT. The time now is 02:57 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.