Originally Posted by tom hyle
I think this falls mostly under "decoration", and is by no means cosntant, but there is the tiny guard and the flared, closed end-cap (rather than the plainer cilyndrical or cup shaped ferule). These two features are far from universal on the higher status dha, but I think are unseen on the rural style, which likewise is, in my experience, also otherwise plain.
Sometimes, Tom, your brain moves fast
. It's like watching a whirlwind.
One of the exceptions to your observation would be the "Montagnard" style dha. These, invariably, have small tsuba-like guards. Incongruous in many instances, given the often extremely long handles.
Otherwise, I think it's important to point out that the working dha of many hilltribes often have handles and scabbards quite elaborately decorated with silver, particularly those of the Kachin, Karen and Shan. Thus, the line blurrs further.