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Old 17th February 2019, 04:43 PM   #1
CharlesS
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Default A Massive Dha/Daab With an Unique Blade

This all business dha/daab will win no awards for aesthetics, but it does have some interesting features. The blade is heavy and massive and 1/2in. thick at the forte. Whether held with two hands or one, it essentially becomes a cleaver for the one handling it! The hilt is hardwood with an iron bolster, pommel and reinforcing rings.

It is the blade that is of special interest. It has a somewhat unique shape for starters, but the forging of the blade looks rather complex. The upper portion is pattern welded, but as we look towards the center of the blade are we looking at a wide quench zone with a further hardened edge, or a wide inserted edge with a quenched edge??? I am not sure I have seen such wide distinctions in another blade.

Comments and opinions welcomed. I am particularly interested in nailing down the construction of the blade.

Dimensions:
Overall length 25.25in
Blade length: 14in.
Blade's widest point: 2.5in.
Thickest point of the spine, the forte: 1/2in.
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Old 17th February 2019, 06:16 PM   #2
ariel
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Fabulous!
The engineering is impeccable and very complex. My guess it was a differential hardening because I can seem to see traces of lamination even there. Would be interesting to polish and perhaps even etch the edge to be sure, but I would value its patination more than just knowledge. And the vestigial point would allow for stabbing action. So clever.... It must be very heavy and not “fast”, but it would shatter anything in its path. Massive steel ferrule and pommel assure structural integrity.


This bladesmith would win Forged in Fire in a heartbeat!

Charles, how the heck do you manage to find one incredible sword after another, and all of them with a twist? You must have the most intriguing collection I can imagine, something that Hales would be proud to show. My hat is off to you.
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Old 17th February 2019, 10:06 PM   #3
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Could this have been used for executions; or is the handle a bit short for that purpose?
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Old 18th February 2019, 03:54 AM   #4
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Great sword, just the way I like them; massive and meant for business.
It reminds me more of a Ram Dao than a Dha.
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Old 18th February 2019, 08:14 AM   #5
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My initial impression is that this chopper is Northern Thai or Lao in origin,based on the blade shape and the decoration along the spine of the blade. Drac has drawn an interesting analogy to a ram dao, and it should be noted that there has been considerable Hindu influence in Thailand, to the extent that the Thai have their own version of the Ramayama. I'm checking with some Thai sources on this one and will get back to you with any further information.

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Originally Posted by Rick
Could this have been used for executions; or is the handle a bit short for that purpose?
Rick, my understanding from a couple of sources is that executions were carried out with ordinary swords that were not especially heavy or otherwise modified for that purpose.

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Old 18th February 2019, 10:35 AM   #6
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In this thread
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=24506
it was an utility knife.

Last edited by Mercenary : 18th February 2019 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 18th February 2019, 01:05 PM   #7
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Perhaps the general forms may be somewhat similar, suggesting common geographic origin ( see Ian’s post), but the size, the sturdiness, the decoration and the complexity of forging of the Charles’ example is not a utility knife. This one is a WEAPON:-)
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Old 18th February 2019, 01:40 PM   #8
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Without being very familiar with the weapons/tools of the area but judging simply the dimmensions of the blade, I believe this is a tool, more exactly some kind of machete, and not a weapon. Of course, like most of the tools, it could be used as a weapon but because of its weight and fairly short reach would be extremely inefficient. Of course it can deliver devastating blows but that wouldn't make it an effective weapon since in a battle one does not confront an immobile, static, opponent but an adversary constantly moving back and forth.
The presence of decorations cannot be considered a irrefutable proof for being a weapon, as I have seen several machetes of the area, equally richly decorated (Thai Enep machetes).
My two cents...
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Old 18th February 2019, 04:45 PM   #9
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Looks a lot like a Burmese/Thai coconut harvester's knife. See Mercenary's post above.

Thais and Burmese are Buddhists and, like most of us, do not sacrifice animals. They/we DO kill people who invade or attack them/us tho. I'm sure anyone attacking a man who has one of these and knows how to use it can, like the old Nepali chopping wood with his khukuri who killed the tiger that tried to eat him, use one of these to defend himself against an unskilled opponent.
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Old 18th February 2019, 06:43 PM   #10
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Thanks for the input guys!

Ariel, thanks so much for high praise. It is true that I love to find a "twist" in a unique piece.

I can easily see this piece as a tool with only a secondary purpose as a weopn...if at all. That would explain the way it handles almost my necessity as a "cleaver". It would also explain the all business aspect of its construction. We know that some tools from the region are decorated as well. Just think about some of the betel nut cutters we have seen.

The only reason I might want to second guess the moniker of "tool" for this item is the time and effort put into the blade, just as Ariel suggested. I can imagine a much more simply constructed blade doing the job of a chopper or machete.

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Old 19th February 2019, 12:28 AM   #11
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The coconut chopper function of this one was confirmed by my sources as well. It is interesting to note the detail in the construction of this one and its decorations. These choppers do come in various sizes, although this is the sturdiest one I've seen. It is interesting to note that other chopping tools from the general area of mainland SE Asia can be quite elaborately made and decorated. The example of a Thai pra (attached) has another well made and decorated blade with a plain, business-like shaft.

Charles, you do indeed come up with some interesting examples! Keep them coming ...

Ian.
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Old 26th February 2019, 03:15 AM   #12
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Hello Charles,

Lovely Tai knife. 🐓 Nice iron mounts and massive blade. Rare to find the 1/2 thick blade, but you do see it with some Tai knives and swords. Definitely a functional piece, but extra care put into its construction, which show it was not just a poor farmer's tool, even though primarily used for utility functions. And I'm sure if needed it would make a devastating blow to the flesh and bone!

Regarding your main inquiry, nice pattern weld...certainly looks to me like a large quench zone with an insert edge. That is just my vote. You can clearly see the evidence of the quality of the blade with the round chip, not a "V" cut in the edge towards the tip.

Interesting the decorative pattern at the spine at the forte...I haven't seen that particular pattern before....typically you find horizontal lines =, X's, sometimes dots :, or inset copper or brass square or rectangles. Fun piece, never can say you've seen it all!

Last edited by Nathaniel : 26th February 2019 at 03:46 AM.
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Old 28th February 2019, 12:55 AM   #13
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Just reread and noticed I got my terms switched, I vote wide inset with a thin quenched edge.
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Old 28th February 2019, 05:30 AM   #14
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Another Thai Pra with a decorated blade, steel fittings and a simply decorated hardwood grip emulating the joins on bamboo or a rattan haft.

(the string is looped around the forte to let it hang properly on the wall, not far from my head as I type, as the balance is pretty much at the blade/bolster join.)
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Last edited by kronckew : 28th February 2019 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 2nd March 2019, 11:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaniel
Just reread and noticed I got my terms switched, I vote wide inset with a thin quenched edge.


I second that. It looks to me like a piece of higher carbon edge steel with a subtle straight grain inserted in a body of more burl patterned mild carbon steel, the whole then heat treated.

If the line would have been the demarcation of differential heat treatment ( "hamon") then the burl pattern would briefly be exaggerated on that line before fading in to a completely hardened area. The fact that it does not tells us that we're transitioning to a different piece of steel instead.

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Old 3rd March 2019, 07:30 PM   #16
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Thanks for the additional input guys! Good stuff!
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Old Today, 01:59 AM   #17
Nathaniel
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Hello all, I just came across this unreferenced photo on Mark's Dha Research Index and noticed that these was a knife similar to the one you have Charles. Does anyone know the reference for this photo?
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