Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Affidavit of Mark I. Bowditch
Re: Application for pre-CITES Import/Export Permit
I, Mark I. Bowditch, declare and affirm as follows:
1. I reside at ---------------------------------.
2. I submit this Affidavit in support of an application for a pre-CITES export/re-import permit for the exportation and re-importation of certain antique Southeast Asian swords in my personal collection, as described in the permit application form and shown in the appended Appendix of Photographs, the purpose of the exportation being a loan to the Macao Museum of Art for display as part of the exhibition “The History of Steel.” This is a non-commercial activity.
3. My educational qualifications are as follows. I received a B.Sc. in Botany, with an emphasis in ecology, from George Washington University in 1986, and an M.Sc. in Biology from George Washington University in 1988. I received a J.D. degree from the National Law Center, George Washington University, in 1993.
4. My expertise in the field pertinent to this application, in addition to the educational qualifications stated in paragraph 3, is as follows. I have been collecting and researching edged weapons from continental Southeast Asia, primarily Burma and Thailand, for over five years. I am considered one of three experts in this field, world-wide, and have prepared and published two articles on the subject, with a third in press. I am the creator and web-master of the most comprehensive web site treating the edged weapons of continental Southeast Asia, named the Dha Research Index (http://www.dharesearch.bowditch.us
5. In recognition of my expertise in this field I have been selected by the Macao Museum of Art as co-curator of the continental Southeast Asian section of their up-coming exhibition “The History of Steel” (see attached invitation letter from the Director of the Macao Museum of Art, Exhibit A hereto).
6. Based on my personal expertise and experience outlined above, and a careful examination of the articles listed hereafter, I am of the opinion that the age of the swords for which this export/import permit is sought (in the order in which they appear in the accompanying Appraisal Report of William P. Weschler, Jr.), which accompanies this permit application, is as follows.
Sword 1: Mid-to-late 19th century Burmese, this estimate being based on the nature and quality of the carving of the ivory handle, a style which, though still used in ivory carving from workshops in Yangoon (Rangoon), Burma, is one that is no longer employed in the making of sword handles and is rarely seen of this quality, due to the loss of royal patronage after the completion of the British annexation of Burma and abolishment of the Burmese monarchy in 1885.
Sword 2: Early 19th century Burmese, this estimate again being based on the nature and quality of the ivory carving of the handle, which is rarely used in Burma today, for the reason stated above. Also the even, dark patina of the blade visible beneath the deeper areas of corrosion is such that only develops after a century of more. Furthermore, the blade of this sword is heavy, tempered, and sharp, indicating that it is a functional weapon. The manufacture of functional swords in Burma effectively died as a result of the Arms Control Act that became effective after the British annexation of Burma in 1885.
Sword 3: Late 18th to early 19th century Thai, this estimate being based on the quality and manufacture of the blade, which is extremely high and has not been achieved outside of Japan (and recently in the United States), for at least a century and a half; this blade shows a high degree of sophistication in form and in execution, with a complex blade geometry and a differentially hardened edge made by the Japanese “refractory clay” technique, a technique that was introduced into Thailand circa the early 1600’s by Japanese mercenaries employed in the Royal bodyguard, who were evicted from the country in 1632, leading to the decline and eventual disappearance of this particular sword-making tradition in Thailand.
Sword 4: Late 18th century Burmese, this estimate being based on the use of iron fittings and elaborate “koftgari” silver and copper adornment on the fittings and blade, a technique that is no longer practiced to my knowledge in Burma, and furthermore on the unusually high quality of the decorations, as well as the deep, even patina on the blade even after a light polish. Furthermore, the blade of this sword is heavy, tempered, and sharp, indicating that it is a functional weapon. The manufacture of functional swords in Burma effectively died as a result of the Arms Control Act that became effective after the British annexation of Burma in 1885.
Sword 5: Late 18th century Burmese, this estimate being based on the unusually high quality of the koftgari blade decoration and carving of the antler handle, the elaborate decoration of the silver scabbard, which furthermore bears a deep, even patina that only develops on silver after many years, and a dark even age patina on the blade which only develops after a century or more. The sword also bears a dedicatory inscription dated 1798 in the Western calendar (as set forth in the document entitled “CITES Certification” by Daniel Wilke and Intranun Ittipong, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit B), indicating that this sword was a gift of Royal patronage. Swords of this quality, and furthermore having a scabbard entirely covered in silver, where only permitted to be born by nobles of very high status in Burma; in view of the fact that the Burmese monarchy was abolished by the British in 1885 and the institution of the Arms Control Act effectively ended the production of functional weapons in Burma, the dedicatory inscription is consistent with the historical context in which this blade must have been created.
7. My age estimate of these swords is consistent with the expert appraisal of William P. Weschler, Jr., of Adam A. Weschler & Son, Inc., a copy of which is attached to this permit application, who examined the swords in my presence and provided his expert opinion as to their age based on the age of the ivory and antler material used in the swords.
8. Though the sections of ivory used in Swords 1 through 4 are too small to identify the species of origin definitively, based on my knowledge of the fauna of continental Southeast Asia, and the practices of the craftsmen of Burma and Thailand in the relevant time-period, it is my opinion that the ivory material used in Swords 1 through 4 is tusk ivory of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). My opinion is also based on the lack of any record of importation or use of African, whale, walrus or dugong ivory in Southeast Asia due to the relative abundance of local Asian elephant ivory.
9. Though the sections of antler used in Sword 5 are too small to identify the species of origin definitively, based on my knowledge of the fauna of continental Southeast Asia, the practices of craftsmen in Burma, and extensive research into the particular species of Cervidae found in continental Southeast Asia and Burma in particular, it is my opinion that the antler material used in the handle of Sword 5 is derived from either the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), or the Thamin Deer (Cervus eldii thamin). This opinion is also based on the robustness of the antler material, which indicates that it came from a large deer, the Red Deer and Thamin Deer being the largest antlered deer found in Southeast Asia, as well as the most abundant during the relevant time-period.
10. It is also my opinion that the ivory material used in Swords 1-4, and the antler material used in Sword 5, is original to the pieces, and has not been repaired or modified with any additional animal material of any endangered species after December 28, 1973. This is based on my careful inspection of the swords, which shows that the handles have not been replaced and comprise either a solid piece of animal material firmly affixed to the blades and fittings and showing no signs of disturbance, or in the case of Sword 5, three pieces of antler of identical texture, patination, and style and quality of carving, firmly incorporated into the metal fittings of the handle, the connections between antler, fittings and blades being very firm and showing no signs of disturbance.
11. I have read and understood 50 C.F.R. §§ 14.22, 17.4, and 23 of the implementing regulations of CITES and the Endangered Species Act. Based on my personal experience and expertise, and the totality of evidence set forth above, it is my opinion that Swords 1-5 are more than 100 years old and have not been repaired or modified with any part of any endangered species on or after December 28, 1973, and are thus antiques under the definition set forth in 50 C.F.R. § 14.22.
12. I further declare and affirm that the foregoing statements and the attached exhibits are true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge, understanding and belief. I understand that this affidavit is being submitted for the purpose of inducing the Federal government to issue an export/re-import certificate for the five swords listed in paragraph 6, above, and illustrated in the attached photographs, which contain pieces made from animals protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (15 U.S.C. 1531-1534) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and further that any false statement made herein may subject me to the criminal penalties of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Date Mark I. Bowditch