Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
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.]