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Old 20th October 2018, 06:20 PM   #1
kronckew
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Default Manipuri Chamtun

Acquired this one today, Cham Tun from the Meitei people of Manipuri, an older and sharp version of the ones in the linked vides below.

53 cm. LOA, steel with wood haft wrapped in brass wire, brass disk om the pommel.

Manipuri thang Ta Martial Art video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii9adOSloVc

'Nother: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-srjwsP8yd8

More: these look like mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfbLJ6icQ_E

They are occasionally mistaken as 'African'.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 07:05 PM   #2
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The ChamTun (spear-knnife) is home.

Excellent item. Grip including the bolster is 30 cm., hair under a foot. about an inch or 2.5 cm. dia. at the ends tapering down to about 3/4, 19mm in. for about 3 in., 7.5 cm. of the centre part.

Blade is 9in./23 cm. Fullered both sides, inscription only on one side. 1 1/4in. wide at the bolster, hair over 1.5 near the tip, 3mm thick at the spine. The spine decorations are very well done. Cleaned some grime off with a plastic scrubber. It's laminated steel! Linear pattern.

'Habaki' style Bolster is steel. Looks like a fancy khukuri bolster

It has not been wound with brass wire as i thought, there are 2 decorated brass sleeves, one 2 3/8",6 cm. long just behind the bolster, another 4 cm. long at the pommel end. A 5mm brass disk is spiked to the haft end as a pommel & secures the aforementioned cylinder.

A 3mm. brass rivet about 3cm. from the bolster secures the blade to the grip through the brass sleeve. Wood haft is a dark ebony-like hardwood Very sharp little beast.
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Old 28th October 2018, 10:44 AM   #3
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Default

Very nice Manipuri weapon,not much has been discussed about north east indian weapons from Manipur.Most discusions have been about their neighbouring state of Nagaland

Thanks for posting this Cham Tum
regards
Rajesh
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Old 28th October 2018, 11:01 AM   #4
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Yup, there is an slightly fancier ivory inlay gripped one with a loose ring set in the pommel I've seen here on the forum somewhere, and some more mundane ones (photo below). Tim Simmons posted one almost exactly like mine a while back, where they thought it was african.

Manipur is surrounded by Burma, Nagaland, as well as the other nearby indian states, and even Bhutan. I'd bet there was trade etc. that created cross influences.
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Old 28th October 2018, 11:05 AM   #5
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I suspect my 'Police truncheon' wotsit is also in this family.
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Old 31st October 2018, 02:02 AM   #6
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Default Three Interesting Things Noted

Hi All,

Thank you Kronckew for posting this weapon. I had never heard of it before but now I want one. I noticed immediately how similar to a panabas the chamtun looks. The second thing that got my attention was how the blades were used with two hands to deliver rapid, alternating cutting strokes. In all three videos, only during lulls in the action were the blades held in one hand. Once combat resumed, virtually all cuts were made with two hands. The last thing that I saw took a while to register fully. In the third video (the most stylized of the three), I was taken by the ritualized poses that the combatants struck during lulls in the action. Two days after seeing the video, I realized that the poses were like those that I had seen on dha story blades. This led me to wonder if dha were (or are) commonly used two handed to deliver rapid, alternating cuts a la chamtun. I also wonder the same thing about the panabas.

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Old 31st October 2018, 12:41 PM   #7
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I have friend who trained in the Thai sword fighting style in Thailand, he has told me before that the dha/daab was used mainly one handed, but would occasionally be used two handed for a finishing blow to a downed enemy so he couldn't recover and stab you in the back. Even the two sword styles are mostly for showing off and dancing. When they went into a real battle, they used a nice sensible shield in the left hand. Knowing how to use a sword in your off hand was useful too, in case your main hand/arm was injured.

They usually had fairly short tangs suited to a one handed style, so the extra force applied to the haft near the pommel was not reinforced by any extension of the tang like western or japanese hand and a half or two handed swords. It was there to balance the weapon. These Chamtun at least have a rivet or two to secure the short tang. Many dha/dabbs are just held in by cutler's cement/resin, and have done their job for centuries like that. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I suspect as they are close to Burma, they likely have had battles with each other and have adopted bits of each other's styles they found worthwhile.

Also, these videos are choreographed to be flashy and showy and more used to instill muscle memory like karate's kata. The stylized stuff goes out the iwndow in a real fight where to live means to be unpredictable.

Last edited by kronckew : 31st October 2018 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 1st November 2018, 01:20 AM   #8
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Default Excellent Points

Kronckew,

You make excellent points. I wondered what would happen with the alternate cutting if one of the combatants refused to cooperate and struck a second time on the same side. Talk about being unpredictable! As you point out, use of two hands on the sword precludes the use of a shield and I certainly would prefer to have a shield in one hand with a sword in the other. I hadn't thought about it but as you also point out, the dha hilt/tang construction was probably too light weight to withstand constant two handed cutting and parrying.

Sincerely,
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