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Old 6th September 2020, 09:33 PM   #1
JeffS
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Default Burmese dha use question

Hello. I'm revisiting this dha I bought from Artzi in 2008. This was the description on the sell page:

"This good Dah sword is coming from Burma, very early 20 C. Very fine blade 21 inches long with nicely shaped tip, inlaid with silver koftgari decoration. Wood handle with checkered grip and big brass / copper mounts. Wood scabbard bound with brass band. Total length 30 inches. Very good condition. This Dah sword comes with its original red baldric cord."

I've been trying to find early 20th century photos of Burmese people with dha so I can get an ethnographic sense of the original owner. From what I have picked up on this forum the style of the this sword, due to the koftgari, time period, and non-ethnic specific style, would likely be carried by a business man or government official rather for martial or day-to-day use. Early Burmese photos are thin on the ground and the few I've found searching the web with dha have been royalty, thaing related or of traditional Kachin. So the question is, how/when/why was this general class of Burmese dha carried? Where they costume for formal events, self defense, duels of honor, hang on the wall??

Also, while the koftgari, wide central fuller, and three part hilt are obviously common features I have not seen this blade tip shape anywhere else. I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on the significance of the style regarding use or cultural influence.
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Old 7th September 2020, 01:22 AM   #2
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Perhaps the tip has been reshaped. The fuller seems to run into the edge bevel.
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Old 7th September 2020, 04:04 AM   #3
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http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/
Try this link. Everything (almost) you will ever need to know about Dha. There was a direct link (I think) from the Forum but can't find it now.
Stu
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Old 7th September 2020, 04:17 AM   #4
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Jeff,

I think Rick is correct, in that the fuller is passing through a sharpened area at the end of the bklade, and this likely indicates a reshaped tip. Fullers do run through the end of some dha blades, but these usually have a blunt, squared-off end or a concave end (as shown in the attachment). Such blunt- or cancave-ended dha were especially used by the Kachin, and usually had a three-part hilt such as the one shown in your original post. While fullered blades were made by the Burmese, they were also made by the Achang people of Husa in Yunnan (who made excellent blades BTW). The blade in the OP may have started out as a Husa dha.

As for their use, the dha as a fighting weapon lost prominence in the second half of the 19th C when firearms became more prevalent. By the early 20th C, plain dha were still being used for working purposes (as "jungle knives") but otherwise higher quality examples were largely ceremonial in function, being worn as a sign of status, at weddings, on national holidays, festivals and other cultural events.

Ian

P.S. On the subject of the Dha Index, this is now very old information and contains quite a few inaccuracies. Just a word of caution in its use. Even though some of my dha are shown there, the descriptions previously attributed to them may no longer be accurate.
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Old 7th September 2020, 08:14 AM   #5
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They also came in pointy.

Like mine below:

(see also the other point types chart)
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Old 7th September 2020, 08:29 AM   #6
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Just for interest - an earlier form, the Ayutthayan (Thai) Daab/Dha. The city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1787, so these types were earlier, from a time when they were actually used in battle. Unusual 'yelman' at the point. I have one like it. Very well-balanced and an excellent sturdy weapon. These are in a museum in Thailand.

The Dha's long grip is to balance the blade, they are a one handed weapon, tho a two handed coup-de-grace was occasionally used.
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Old 7th September 2020, 09:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Just for interest - an earlier form, the Ayutthayan (Thai) Daab/Dha. The city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1787, so these types were earlier, from a time when they were actually used in battle. Unusual 'yelman' at the point. I have one like it. Very well-balanced and an excellent sturdy weapon. These are in a museum in Thailand.

The Dha's long grip is to balance the blade, they are a one handed weapon, tho a two handed coup-de-grace was occasionally used.

Kronckew mentions Ayutthaya. Here are a couple of pic of how the city looks today.
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Old 7th September 2020, 11:13 AM   #8
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It's what the newspaper real estate classifieds call 'a nice little fixer-upper'.
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Old 7th September 2020, 04:42 PM   #9
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Thank you for clearing up the use question for me, it has been nagging me for awhile! Also interesting about the Husa. They are selling impressive looking watered steel blades with distinct hamon on Ebay, so apparently the tradition is going strong. If reworked, the tip on the dha is very cleanly executed and nicely radiused.
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Old 10th September 2020, 07:41 AM   #10
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I agree that it is probably reshaped.

The Chinese Shan/Dai minority also made them with this profile from the get-go, but the rest of the dha is not typical Chinese Shan/Dai work. Such swords usually don't have a groove, for example, and their tips are thinner in thickness. But who knows, maybe someone from that minority purchased and altered the tip to their taste.

For comparison, here is an otherwise quite similar piece I had with a date on it. This was probably the original shape of yours, looking at the groove. I think yours is probably roughly from the same period.
https://mandarinmansion.com/item/burmese-dha-dated-1928

For reference I add a photo of a more typical Chinese Shan/Dai piece. Characteristic for this culture, spread over Burma and Yunnan, are the large garlic shaped pommel, the style of the silverwork, and the blade profile.

Peter
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Last edited by Ian : 10th September 2020 at 07:57 AM. Reason: Reduced size of attached picture
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Old 10th September 2020, 09:30 AM   #11
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Hi Peter:

The politics of the Shan people and the Burmese Government are complicated, and many Shan who live in the Shan States of Burma have been seeking independence for a long time. They reside also in neighboring Yunnan and northern Thailand. As you note, the Shan are excellent silversmiths and they make fine blades as well. Typically, their blades have no fuller. The blades with fullers and koftgari work are Burman in origin, and the koftgari art was likely introduced to Burma by Indian craftsmen in the 19th C or perhaps earlier. [Longstanding trade between India and Burma is documented, and during the British occupation of Burma in the 19th and 20th C it was administered by the Viceroy of India.]

The dha examples with extensive silver koftgari often depict historical tales from Burmese mythology, while others show more abstract designs with flowing vines and leaves. The more elaborate versions have silver koftgari the whole length of the blade. These high quality swords are sometimes called Mandalay dha, after their assumed place of manufacture. They were produced mainly in the second half of the 19th C. and first 20–30 years of the 20th C.

Related to these fine swords are inferior examples featuring brass-covered hilts and scabbards that appeared in the early 20th C. Early examples were fair quality but they quickly deteriorated into cheap tourist items. They have coarser koftgari work and the blades are of poor quality, often untempered--these are entirely for display and are sometimes referred to as "story dha." Examples of these inferior forms show up online fairly regularly.

Attached are pictures of two high quality, 19th C dha with silver koftgari work that were exhibited in the Museum of Macau's History of Steel.


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Old 10th September 2020, 10:25 AM   #12
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Thanks for sharing, Ian! I recall these from the catalog of that exhibit.

Over the years I also own and have owned some of these finer silver overlaid dha and my research has lead me to the village of Mindan in Yamethin district. Several gazetteers mention Mindan as the only place where such work was done at the time.

Some excerpts:

"The inlaid dha and dagger blades of Mindan near Yamèthin are well-known. The dhas are inlaid in gold, silver and brass."

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan states. 1901.

And:

"Of the 26,221 workers and dependents shown in the census returns under the head of workers in iron and hardware, few can have been capable of executing anything more than the coarsest blacksmith's work. An exception must, however, be made in favour of the forgers of the inlaid knife-blades produced in Yamethin District, some of whose work is really meritorious."

-Imperial Gazzetteer of India, Provincial Series, Burma Vol 1. 1908.

Here's an article I wrote about one of the makers, Maung Pyo who was the 7th generation worker in the art, which was handed down from father to son:

https://www.mandarinmansion.com/glossary/saya-pyo

Assuming roughly 20-30 years for a generation, it started about 120-180 years prior, from around the 1720s to 1780s perhaps.

Now when looking at the nature of the koftgari, what strikes me is that on the Burmese dha the entire surface is crosshatched and the designs are then drawn with mostly silver wire after which the surface is blackened for contrast. Classic Indian work tends to only crosshatch that area which is to be covered with gold, not the larger surface.

The crosshatching of larger surfaces and then "drawing" with the wire was quite common on the cartouches on Ottoman swords, and they use the same blackening to make the design stand out. In the early 18th century, many Burmese port officials were in fact Armenian. (See for example "The Muslims of Burma" by Moshe Yegar, 1972.) So I wonder whether it may have come from that angle instead.

I agree most of the later ones are only a faint reflection of what they used to be in Yamethin's heydays. That 1928 dated dha I had however was still decently made and still had a pretty heavy "user" blade, showing the manufacture of serious dha for local consumption did carry on for decades into the 20th century.
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Old 10th September 2020, 01:25 PM   #13
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Thanks Peter. Your research is very interesting. I have read your article previously. Ottoman and Indo-Persian koftgari are subtle in their differences, but as you say there may have been some Ottoman influence at work in Burma. I believe that I read in Scott's writings on the History of Burma, and his time as an administrator there during the 19th C, that Indian influence in various Burmese arts and industries was longstanding also. However, it's some time since I read Scott and my recollection may be off.

I do think that the production of high quality Burman dha with silver or gold koftgari (and occasional niello), while never highly prolific, reached its height in the mid-late 19th C perhaps due in part to an increased demand from affluent British residents. Most of the examples we see appear to have been made in the second half of the 19th C and early 20th C. Older examples are hard to identify conclusively, although there are probably well documented pieces in Myanmar. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest place to visit and explore the history of dha. I tried unsuccessfully to obtain a visa 20 years ago and again 12 years ago.

I note that Yamethin district is within the Mandalay Region, so your information fits with the attribution of these swords to Mandalay.

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Old 10th September 2020, 04:23 PM   #14
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Thanks Peter. I enjoy your site and have learned much reading the articles.

The quote from Sir Charles Alexander Gordon (1877) from the link you posted indicates, at that time, the dha was anecdotally commonly used in local disputes. He seems to be including Burmese across the range of social status in the statment. In this case the "fancy" dha would continue to function as a weapon intended for use rather than just as a fashion or cultural prop. How much this would change from late 19th to early 20th C is not clear to me but perhaps the decline in dha quality follows a decline in the acceptability or stronger legal consequences for using dha as a weapon during disputes.
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Old 14th September 2020, 10:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
I do think that the production of high quality Burman dha with silver or gold koftgari (and occasional niello), while never highly prolific, reached its height in the mid-late 19th C perhaps due in part to an increased demand from affluent British residents. Most of the examples we see appear to have been made in the second half of the 19th C and early 20th C. Older examples are hard to identify conclusively, although there are probably well documented pieces in Myanmar.


I agree, those I've seen with dates on them all seem to be made circa 1880-1930. I've only had one such dha of which everything seemed to indicate it was a quite a bit older than the rest. Bicolor blade overlays, the handle completely made of iron (it was magnetic throughout). Also the hilt shape with its more pronounced b end in the hilt itself felt earlier. How early, I have no idea, but my gut says it could be late 18th to early 19th century. I add a photo.

What we are observing is perhaps survivor bias: Their manufacture was well known among the British by the last decades of the 19th century. Many were probably purchased or even commissioned by them to bring home as souvernirs. I've had one with the name of a British surgeon that served in Burma from at least 1882 to his retirement in 1908. Not coincidentally, almost all of these dha today can ultimately be traced back to the UK antique art market where they still keep turning up.

(Dha making was probably as prolific in neighboring Thailand but without as many foreigners working and residing there, very few were brought to the Western world and local humid climate and neglect probably did the rest.)


Quote:
perhaps the decline in dha quality follows a decline in the acceptability or stronger legal consequences for using dha as a weapon during disputes.


Yes, quite possibly. Also, the use of large swords like that seemed to have declined throughout Asia with the coming of more affordable firearms.
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:17 PM   #16
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Forgot to add the dha pic!
Here goes.
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Old 14th September 2020, 07:43 PM   #17
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That is a beautiful undamaged hi-status upper crust sword made to a high standard and quality for someone of sufficient rank that it was probably never used even if it's owner actually attended a battle, tho it could have been if his side was losing. He had people who did the sweaty work for him. Too rich for my humble self. Great for a Noble display of wealth and power of its owner.

I personally prefer the more mundane ones used by the front line troops, with maybe a little decoration.

On a similar note, regarding the apparently shortened blade with the fuller to the tip - During WW2 the Japanese acquired swords locally either by capture of stocks, surrendered weapons, or purchase from local collaborators. The Dutch klewang for instance, they acquired a number of these from various sources and cut the already short blades down even shorter, modified the guards, and issued them to their sergeants and military police. We call them Hei-ho.

I've heard that in Burma similar acquisitions of Dhas were sometimes cut down and even hand handles shortened, so they could be hung from a belt vertically without it poking them in the armpit when walking. They did that to their own katanas that were not samurai heirlooms as well.

This dha of mine, with a bit of koftgari decor at the forte of the un-fullered blade like the OP's above, was liberated by a Chindit in Burma from a Japanese Officer who didn't need it any more due to lead poisoning. The grip appears to have been redone with a large diameter rimmed cartridge, around 25mm dia. and the scabbard was in poor condition & field repaired. I aquired it from the Chindit who was in London. He figured it should go to someone who appreciated it, as his family didn't want it.
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Old 14th September 2020, 09:21 PM   #18
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Hi Peter,

That's a very beautiful example!

I'm not sure that the iron hilt necessarily reflects greater age. I believe the hilt has niello work on it, and that was often done over iron. The niello process was nasty and smelly work, involving melting sulfur, copper, silver, and lead to create the black components. The lead fumes in particular were highly toxic to niello workers.

I agree with you about the survivor bias that we see in these swords that come to market in the West. British Victorian-era collectors were prolific and usually maintained their pieces in good condition. Not surprising that we see a lot of 19th C dha in good shape.

Ian.
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Old 15th September 2020, 04:01 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
I've heard that in Burma similar acquisitions of Dhas were sometimes cut down and even hand handles shortened, so they could be hung from a belt vertically without it poking them in the armpit when walking. They did that to their own katanas that were not samurai heirlooms as well.


Interesting possibility. If you squint the dha I posted has a Japanese katana vibe.
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Old 15th September 2020, 04:22 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
... perhaps the decline in dha quality follows a decline in the acceptability or stronger legal consequences for using dha as a weapon during disputes.
Jeff, I don't think so. The "quality" of dha used for fighting is different from the"quality" we see in these high end, decorative examples. The blades of "fighting dha" vary widely, but are generally much lighter than these fancy decorative ones--particular care is given to tempering and sharpness of the blade, and the hilts are utilitarian aimed at the overall balance of the weapon and maintaining a good grip. Given a choice, someone engaged in a duel would choose a "fighting dha" rather than one of these beautiful pieces. That's not to say that these decorative examples are not usable for defense, but they are not what I would stake my life on if given a choice.
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Old 15th September 2020, 07:49 AM   #21
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I would beg to differ in terms of usability.

These well-decorated dha come in several different classes and by the late period, a thinner, not so good blade is very often seen. We're talking about the 1920s onwards, mostly. The silver overlay also tends to become indifferent in this period.

Back to these earlier silver overlaid dha, quite a few of them are no less utilitarian than the average "fighting dha", they just have a better finish. Steel construction is usually an outer casing of high-carbon steel, much like the kobuse construction among Japanese swords, and also like Japanese swords they may exhibit a fine hamon when polished although they were never finished to show this aspect off traditionally.

As for weight it is a matter of personal preference. 600-900 grams is pretty much the weight range you see for sabers of all cultures, from Europe to Japan, and you also see this weight range among practical dha.

The dha I posted with silver, copper and brass inlays is a fully-fledged fighting piece. Here some numbers:
Overall length 86.9 cm / 34.2 inch
Blade length 62.2 cm / 24.5 inch
Blade thickness; forte 7 mm, middle 5 mm, near tip 4 mm.
Blade width; forte 35 mm, middle 33 mm, widest 35 mm, near tip 25 mm.
Weight; 816 grams

Well-tempered, with a gentle hum going through the piece when tapping the pommel.

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Old 15th September 2020, 11:37 AM   #22
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Hi Peter,

It depends whose fighting and the style they use. We are talking about mainly foot soldiers, not mounted cavalry, and the dha was considered a lighter and faster sword than many European or Indopersian swords. That said there were heavier swords used by the Burmese, Thai, Cambodians, etc.

The issue, I think, is not so much one of weight as of balance. Dha have longer hilts than most European sabers. When the British and other Europeans adapted them for their own use, they often cut the hilt down to better conform with their notion of a comfortable hilt. A longer hilt helps move the balance point back towards the hilt, thereby giving the blade a lighter and quicker feel. Most dha were used in a single hand, gripped down towards the blade, although two-handed use was also possible. Many fighting dha were quite short, with blade lengths of 17–22 inches, although longer forms were used also. The shorter blades were advantageous for close quarter fighting and the short blades also reduced the overall mass of the sword. In some Thai martial arts a sword is used in each hand.

I'm no expert on the martial arts of mainland SE Asia, but I'm told the techniques and skills do not involve many heavy bladed swords.

When I have made note of the balance point of the beautifully decorated dha, some of which have been shown here, I have found the balance point to be several inches forward of the hilt--as much as 6-8 inches or more in some cases. This makes for a more "blade-heavy" weapon that necessitates a slightly different fighting style.

Thai daab often have hilts longer than Burmese dha, but these are still primarily single handed weapons. The balance point for many Thai daab would be even closer to the junction of hilt and blade, depending on the composition of the hilt.

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Old 15th September 2020, 11:55 AM   #23
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Hi,

Hmmm... in my observations, it’s the Shan dha that’s typically the light one, it even appears as “a light form of dha” in some of the earliest Burmese-English dictionaries and this is in accordance to what I’m used to seeing among them.

Many Burmese seem to have preferred a heavier dha, regardless their class. Look at this one, exact same blade as the fancy ones, 12.5mm at forte. I recall some 900 grams total and in no way very different in size, weight, blade construction, temper and balance from the more fancy, well-decorated pieces:


Now Shan dha, are mostly in a different class. Lighter, more nimble, balanced as you describe.

Also, it would strike me as odd to use a heavier but not really useful "weapon" as regalia, as normally a weapon gets lighter as it loses function, not heavier. You can put the exact same amount of decoration on each flat of a thinner blade, which is exactly what happened in the 1920s and 1930s when adorned, but light and untempered blades were mounted in silver repousse scabbards of the highest order.

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Old 15th September 2020, 12:36 PM   #24
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Hi Peter,

Quite so. The *Shan dha are shorter and lighter than the Burman swords to which you refer. Shan dha were considered by many to be among the best fighting swords in SE Asia, with excellent blades. That some Burman preferred a heavier style or a longer blade may simply be preference, but the Shan provided dha for many ethnic groups throughout Burma, including Burmans, Kachin, and Karens, as well as into northern Thailand and Laos, and even as far north as Assam and neighboring states in NE India.

My personal preference would be a good Shan dha over one of the fancy Mandalay dha if I had to pick one to fight with. But then I know little about actual sword fighting.

*Strictly speaking, the Shan are Burmese since most of them live in the Shan States within the old Kingdom of Burma (now Myanmar). Of course, they are not ethnically Burman (Bama). Shan did fight with the Burmese forces raised by the King for various wars.
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Old 15th September 2020, 12:49 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Dekker
... Also, it would strike me as odd to use a heavier but not really useful "weapon" as regalia, as normally a weapon gets lighter as it loses function, not heavier. ...
What about the "bearing swords" of Europe--those monsters that were carried in procession? Moro datus do a similar thing with large ornate kampilan. "Mine is bigger than yours" can play out in various settings as a display of wealth and superiority, just as lots of gold and silver finery can. Why not combine the two, and go big with lots of bling?
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Old 16th September 2020, 07:36 AM   #26
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In the more distant past, armies wore a bewildering array of styles of clothing, armours, and weapons from plain to ornate, for a variety of economic and personal reasons. Bling was a sign of your rank and status.

In the following age of gunpowder the armies started to standardize, wear uniforms issued by their governments, this provided not only a way to distinguish who was on your side in a melee but offered a form of camouflage in that when everyone looked the same at a distance, no one soldier would receive 'inordinate' attention for his bling.

Officers thru history however were expected to buy their own gear, often if not usually more ornate as they rose in rank. Rules of war provided that Officers were not to receive undo attention as that was ungentlemanly. Col. Ferguson, the famed rifle man & sniper, refused to shoot George Washington in the back for this reason.

This practice continued into the early 19c, when us dastardly colonials figured out that shooting officers, and NCOs worked really well. Fancy bling officers tended to die first. At Chalmette (New Orleans) A well-disciplined Scots regiment lost all its officers as it approached the US line, and just stood there at attention and not firing back, getting shot to pieces until an officer showed up who told them to get the heck outta there. At the end, the Brits didn't have any officers to pursue the battle and surrendered.

By the time of the American war between the states, this 'gentlemanly armour' was completely gone. As one Union General found when visiting the front lines stated eloquently when asked to keep his head down, "Don't worry, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist.." and dropped dead with a bullet thru his forehead.

Fancy silver/gold rank badges on shoulders and collars/hats started either being removed before battle, or replaced with 'subdued' versions. Now it is the poor slob with a visible antenna who gets shot first.

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Old 16th September 2020, 09:44 AM   #27
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Location: Kingdom of the Netherlands
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Hi,

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That some Burman preferred a heavier style or a longer blade may simply be preference, but the Shan provided dha for many ethnic groups throughout Burma, including Burmans, Kachin, and Karens, as well as into northern Thailand and Laos, and even as far north as Assam and neighboring states in NE India.


It doesn't appear to be "some Burman", Burman swords are heavier by default and in that sense seem to be closer to the typical Indian talwar or Chinese dao or Japanese katana in weight, and in balance much like the latter two as well.

They tend to be heavier than Shan dha, but in the grand scheme of things, they are not the clumsy, overweight swords they are made out to be. Plus, edges are hard and often have a temperline when polished.

Another argument for them being fighting swords is that:
a.) Humble unadorned Burmese dha are found with the same weight and balance.
b.) Some of these fancy blades were mounted in humble mounts, you couldn't see the blade when sheathed.
c.) I've seen some, and currently own one, with some nicks and cuts in the softer side of the blade that seem clear edge damage.
d.) During the Anglo Burmese wars, many were confiscated after the defeat of Shumba Woonghee:

"The advanced posts of the army under Shumba Woonghee, had now appeared on the banks of the Rangoon River, seven miles from Rangoon."

"The carnage was very great, at least five hundred men being slain in the first stockade, and amongst them was Shumbah Woonghee."

"In this stockade was a battery of nine small guns, and ranged in a row behind, wore the Burman colours. They were made of red silk, swallow-tailed, and having the figure of a Braminy goose in the centre, and when furled, were bound round with green leaves instead of cases. A great many stand of arms were captured and destroyed, and many handsome spears, the shafts headed with chased silver, swords with gold and silver handles and scabbards silver caps..."

-Thomas Abercromby Trant, July 1824


This was not the storeroom of a palace that was raided. This stockade was temporarily set up by Shumba Woonghee moving army. He himself fell fighting in battle. And the amount of richly ornamented weapons was "a great many", which suggests much more than for his own personal use.


Quote:
My personal preference would be a good Shan dha over one of the fancy Mandalay dha if I had to pick one to fight with. But then I know little about actual sword fighting.


It's all a matter of preference. I regularly do sword-sparring. My style is Chinese, with a wooden replica of my favorite antique jian, weighing at 840 grams it's about as heavy as a heftier Mindan dha. Pros of a relatively heavy piece: Easier to keep the center-line, harder for them to beat it aside due to the inertia of the piece. You hit harder. Cons: You fatigue more easily, and are a little bit slower so you need to carefully plan your actions.

Historically, for most cultures, the pros outweighed the cons since 800 grams is a perfectly normal weight for swords and sabers around the world.


Quote:
*Strictly speaking, the Shan are Burmese since most of them live in the Shan States within the old Kingdom of Burma (now Myanmar).


Tell that to the Shan living in Thailand and China...


Quote:
What about the "bearing swords" of Europe--those monsters that were carried in procession? Moro datus do a similar thing with large ornate kampilan. "Mine is bigger than yours" can play out in various settings as a display of wealth and superiority, just as lots of gold and silver finery can. Why not combine the two, and go big with lots of bling?


Well, that's the thing. These Burmese dha are mainly thicker than many Shan dha. If there is one dimension in which a sword on a parade does not give more of a bling factor, it must be the thickness.

Length, width, are seen from afar. Not thickness.

If you want to get into the numbers, I have detailed weights, measurements and p.o.b.'s of a good number of dha I've had pass through my hands for a comparative study between those of the same type that were, and were not, lavishly decorated. And from the top of my head, there really isn't much of a difference between the two blades structurally. As in, there appears no reason to assume the decorated ones perform any less in the field. If a Burmese soldier could afford one, he would get one, and then that was his trusty sword.

(Exceptions are the late ones, first decades of the 20th century. I also have examples of those that show overly thin blades in sometimes very good mounts.)
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