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Old 30th March 2017, 05:53 AM   #1
Ian
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Default Burmese fighting dha

I bought this one from Mr Artzi Yarom (Oriental Arms) about eight years ago. What attracted me to it was the unusual shape of the tip for a Burmese sword--I have not seen another one like it on a Burmese dha, although there are Thai examples with similar "sheep's foot" tips.

After talking with other people about this sword, it appears that it was most likely a Burmese military dha from the late 18th C or first half of the 19th C. The sword is blade heavy in the hand and has a hardened edge--in Thai it would be called a daab dang slong hua to ("cleaver head sword") and was used with a dang (shield). Such swords used with shields by the Thai Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin armies were vanguard troops' swords who were up ahead clearing the enemy so that the following army would not be ambushed; they were slaughter swords for killing and the reason for the forward weight was for chopping and doing maximum damage with single handed blows, while parrying with the dang. It is likely that the Burmese had similar front line troops using similar weapons.

The presence of a simple V-grind to the blade and the absence of fullers are consistent with the Shan as possibly the source for the blade, while the hilt is a fairly standard Burmese arrangement that could be Shan or from another Burmese group.

The pics show this is clearly an old sword with a well forged blade that has a hardened edge and peaked spine over the distal 3/4 of the blade (including the tip). Everything is still tight and this 200-year old fighter could probably still go a few rounds.

OAL = 72 cm
Blade = 52 cm
Thickness at forte = 0.8 cm
Maximum width = 3 cm

Ian.

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Last edited by Ian : 30th March 2017 at 04:18 PM. Reason: Added dimensions
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Old 30th March 2017, 06:26 AM   #2
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Default Another one

I must amend my comment about this sword being the only one I have seen with this tip style. Here is a link to another one, albeit a little different and somewhat larger, on Gavin Nugent's site among his "Sold Items."

http://www.swordsantiqueweapons.com/s1078_full.html
"A good rare 19th century fighting sword from Burma.

This very heavy sword or Dha measures 82cms long overall.
The blade measures 60cms long with a 1.5cm thick spine.
The hilt is a timber core, likely being bamboo. To each end of the hilt are thick tapering iron end caps and a ray skin covered grip.
The gently curving blade is of an unusual form and very thick and heavy. The tip is of the type typically seen on the Mead and Nep knives of the regions. The spine has a central raised medial ridge running the entire length of the blade, right through to the very tip of the cutting edge.

A very good fighting sword of a very rare form."
Ian.

P.S. Here is a pic from that site showing the similar sword.

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Last edited by Ian : 30th March 2017 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Added picture and quote from original site
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Old 30th March 2017, 09:04 PM   #3
DhaDha
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Love the blades on these!
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Old 30th March 2017, 10:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DhaDha
Love the blades on these!
Thanks Dhadha. Yes, simple, well made, and highly functional.
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Old 1st April 2017, 02:32 PM   #5
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Hi Ian,
It's very interesting.
Can you tell me more about this one?
The tip is different, but the whole sword is very similar.
Best,
Kubur
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Old 1st April 2017, 03:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubur
Hi Ian,
It's very interesting.
Can you tell me more about this one?
The tip is different, but the whole sword is very similar.
Best,
Kubur
Hi Kubur:

The one you show has some important differences. First, it has a prominent and wide fuller running the length of the blade. That excludes the Shan as the makers of this blade because they don't use fullers on their swords or knives. Second, as you noted, the tip is concave and not convex like the two examples I showed above. And lastly, the hilt is a little different also, having longer brass ferrules, a shorter ray skin grip, and a small bulbous protrusion on the pommel. The scabbard has been wrapped with fairly flat bands of copper alloy (brass?) and at the throat the piece has scalloped edges suggesting a Chinese influence.

What you have is a much more common style of Burmese sword, which typically has a concave or flat tip. This one might be Burman in manufacture but more likely, I think, the blade originated in Yunnan. The HuSa, for example, make similar blades and have done for centuries. The Burmans often imported blades, so that may be the case here. Similar styles of swords are seen among the Kachin too, but they are usually straight rather than curved like this one.

The presence of large fullers on either side of the blade would reduce the blade's weight considerably, and make the sword lighter and less "blade heavy" in the hand. The two above are deliberately made "blade heavy" for a single-handed chopping action. I think the sword you show likely was made for a different style of fighting.

Your sword was probably made in the late 19th C or early 20th C.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 1st April 2017 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 1st April 2017, 06:21 PM   #7
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Thank you very much Ian
So precise, detailed and informative
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Old 3rd April 2017, 06:40 AM   #8
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Hello Ian. Thank you for sharing your sword and info. I am Curious Ian, how thick is the spine at the tip?

Last edited by Nathaniel : 4th April 2017 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 3rd April 2017, 08:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaniel
Hello Ian. Thank you for sharing your sword and info. How thick is the sword at the tip?
Hi Nathaniel:

The blade is just over 1/8 inch thick at the spine as it starts to bend towards the tip.

Ian.
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Old 5th April 2017, 05:19 AM   #10
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Thanks Ian, so just over 3 mm. I always think it's interesting to know the thickness at forte, middle and towards the tip before it goes to the final point. And also the point of balance.

Last edited by Nathaniel : 5th April 2017 at 02:35 PM.
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