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Old 29th March 2018, 01:03 PM   #1
Peter Dekker
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Default Greaves-Winston typology

Hi all,

I'm trying to learn more about Burmese dha classifications so I can find out more on a number of dha I have.

When digging through Mark Bowditch's site on the matter he often refers to an outdated system that he calls the "Greaves-Winston typology". An internet search found this term only to be used on his site, and on this forum.

I wonder, what is the source of this typology? Who are Greaves and Winston and where can I find the text where they classify these items?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 29th March 2018, 03:15 PM   #2
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Ian Greaves (still on this forum) and Andrew Winston, who formerly was on this forum.
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Old 29th March 2018, 04:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
Ian Greaves (still on this forum) and Andrew Winston, who formerly was on this forum.


Isn't Andrew still a moderator?
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Old 29th March 2018, 06:43 PM   #4
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Not so much anymore.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 12:15 AM   #5
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Hello Peter,

Thanks for bringing up this important topic. Burmese weapon's are certainly very interesting but there is little information published. It certainly is a subject worthy of additional research.

From what I remember of the Greaves-Winston typology there was three main Burmese types.

1. Bama/bamar - Ethnic majority of Myanmar, which the swords hand a short handle and curved blade

2. Kachin - northern minority group, whose dha featured a short hand, straight blade with square tip

3. Shan - northern minority whose dha, featured lotus bud pommel, medium size handle and curved blade

Ian, certainly could comment about things and I'm sure he might chime in here soon.

Last edited by Nathaniel : 3rd April 2018 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 12:59 AM   #6
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*** Also of important note, I know both Andrew W. and Ian G. had stated that this general classification they put together was meant to be the start of a discussion, which they hoped and expected would be in time corrected and built upon.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:00 AM   #7
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Example: Greaves-Winston typology

1. Bama/bamar - Ethnic majority of Myanmar, which the swords hand a short handle and curved blade

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0050.htm
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:02 AM   #8
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Example: Greaves-Winston typology

2. Kachin - northern minority group, whose dha featured a short hand, straight blade with square tip

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0034.htm
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:19 AM   #9
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Example: Greaves-Winston typology

3. Shan - northern minority whose dha, featured lotus bud pommel, medium size handle and curved blade
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Old 3rd April 2018, 01:23 AM   #10
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Also a more detailed article was written by Ian, Mark & Andrew for the History of Steel in Eastern Asia exhibition in Macao in 2006.

Thankfully the website for the exhibition is still working, it is a great reference.

THE SWORDS OF CONTINENTAL SOUTHEAST ASIA
Ian A. Greaves, Mark I. Bowditch & Andrew Y. Winston
http://www.arscives.com/historystee...sea.article.htm

Sword list:
http://www.arscives.com/historystee...a.swordlist.htm

Glossary:
http://www.arscives.com/historystee...ea.glossary.htm
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Old 3rd April 2018, 08:20 AM   #11
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Thanks Nathaniel, very useful!

Bowditch on his website, last updated July 28, 2007;

"One significant change that has been made is the phasing out of the now-obsolete Greaves-Winston typing system. We have learned a lot since this was first developed, and we are able now to define types more appropriately along ethnic lines. "

But he continues "As noted, not all of the pages have been updated with the new typology"

I like to get a handle on the old and new typology and would be most interested in the primary sources that helped the typologies. There must be either:

1. Period accounts
2. Period drawings
3. Early photographs
4. Benchmark pieces with markings and/or sound provenance

Unfortunately, no list of these seems to have been left.

The Kachin type is mentioned in Egerton, 1880.

I quite like Bell's little paper which is a welcome oasis in the overall lack of sources. But he too only described local conditions for smiths and not so much the types of swords made.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 12:29 PM   #12
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Hello Peter:

As already noted by Nathaniel, the G-W classification was an attempt by Andrew and myself to describe different types of Burmese dha. This had been attempted earlier by Carter Rila, a former contributor on this Forum, who had written an article in Blade magazine in the 1970s on the "Kachin" and "Shan" styles of blades. We expanded these and subsequently added a Burmese category, or what Andrew and Mark labeled the "metro" style.

Although never really explicitly stated, our classification was focused on swords of Burma because these seemed easier to understand than the more varied Thai/Lao/Cambodian daab (not to mention the similar swords made in Yunnan). Not surprisingly, the rather simplistic approach we took was soon found wanting. One of the earliest concerns was the "Kachin" designation, which needed to address both the traditional Kachin dao in its open-faced scabbard and the more sword-like, square-ended dha that we were labeling as "Kachin" style. When we learned that many of the Kachin-style dha were made by the Shan as well as other groups in Yunnan, to be sold on to the Kachin, then the classification fell apart. As an aside, there are comments from Europeans studying the Kachin people in the 19th C. that indicate the Kachin largely changed from their traditional dao to the Shan swords during the second half of the 19th C. Why they did so is an unanswered question.

In rethinking the subject of classifying dha/daab, I believe we need to consider a mix of ethnic and geographic features and the time periods in which these weapons were produced.

One particularly interesting ethno-geographic area is the confluence of Shan/Thai/Lao/Southern Yunnan groups located in parts of Burma, Thailand, Laos and China that is often referred to as the Golden Triangle and renowned for its opium production. This area is a melting pot for dha/daab enthusiasts and continues to produce high quality blades.

Peter, I'm pleased to hear your interest in dha and their classification. The real knowledge of these weapons lies within the various cultures and I think there is often a reluctance to share that cultural information with outsiders. I know of a couple of people who have penetrated local Thai groups and learned a great deal, but it is a rare event.

If you have some specific questions then please post them here and perhaps we can all improve our collective knowledge.

Regards,

Ian.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 02:54 PM   #13
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My humble offering, silver and bronze grip inscribed in burmese with a Phoenix bird. shortish grip & ornate pommel. Last time i posted it, no one could translate. Any additional info would be appreciated.
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Last edited by kronckew : 3rd April 2018 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 04:59 PM   #14
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Hi Ian,

So nice to hear from you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
(not to mention the similar swords made in Yunnan).


Ah yes. It seems Yunnan produced a large variety of knives, swords and daggers at the time that catered to many different markets, from Chinese to the many minorities in mainland southeast Asia. Ming scholar, art collector and connoisseur Gao Lian wrote in his Eight Discourses on the art of living (1591) that having a sword in one's study was good practice. An antique was preferred, but: "for those who cannot afford an antique sword for their study, modern-made ones from Yunnan are acceptable.".

I found it quite interesting to read that a scholar from China's east coast would recommend a sword from a tribal region, but I later found out that Yunnan had huge iron deposits and has been a sword making center for about two milennia. Bell notes they also catered to Burma, this text implies they also catered to the Chinese upper-class. It makes one wonder, how many Chinese and SE Asian swords we're looking at with Yunnan-made blades.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
In rethinking the subject of classifying dha/daab, I believe we need to consider a mix of ethnic and geographic features and the time periods in which these weapons were produced.


I can see how that's a tough nut to crack! It seems that the same happened in 19th century "dha land" as happened in many cultures: Once isolated areas got more and more connected through trade and so some distinctions faded, while other local styles were adopted more widely. Hendley mentions exactly the same happening in mid 19th century India. In Japan, a similar thing happened at the beginning of the Tokugawa area when smiths started to travel more and boundaries between certain styles faded somewhat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Peter, I'm pleased to hear your interest in dha and their classification. The real knowledge of these weapons lies within the various cultures and I think there is often a reluctance to share that cultural information with outsiders. I know of a couple of people who have penetrated local Thai groups and learned a great deal, but it is a rare event.


Hmmm.. No doubt a lot can be learned from unbroken lineages, but I also remain quite wary of oral traditions passed on to today. Let's say concepts of what truth and fact are, are not universally shared.

My main area is Chinese arms of the Qing dynasty and lots of misinformation here actually comes "from the culture's own oral traditions". While there are some pearls of wisdom to be found, a lot of information shared in training halls today, or by revival craftsmen, is proven plain wrong by the Qing's own administrative texts.

Unfortunately, I don't think such vast documentation survives from Burma and surrounding areas so maybe we indeed have no choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
If you have some specific questions then please post them here and perhaps we can all improve our collective knowledge.


Will certainly do! One question that comes to mind at the moment is a remark that accompanies some swords on Bowditch' website: "The large number of bands on the scabbard may indicate a person of rather high rank (general or higher)."

Do you know what source this info is from? I would love to learn more, for example when it was observed and by whom.

Thanks so far!
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:45 AM   #15
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Hi Peter,

Yes, southern and western Yunnan is an interesting source of swords and trade into neighboring areas. Nathan was very helpful in identifying the Achang people from the HuSa area who have a long history of bladesmithing. Legend has it that these people are descended from Ming soldiers sent to Yunnan in the 14th C. and who stayed on. There are some very well made and serviceable blades that still come from these smiths. In the northern part of the Burmese-China border, there is trade with the Kachin, Lisu, Naga, and north into Assam and Tibet. Further south we see their influence into eastern Burma, the Shan States, northern Thailand, Laos, and as far east as Vietnam. I have several of the HuSa dha and dao, marked with the regional name in Chinese characters. The Achang people identify mostly with the Shan, also a distinguished Chinese race that was forced south about 800-900 years ago.

I would encourage you to research the swords of Yunnan from a Chinese perspective, as much of what has been discussed here has been from the viewpoint of infiltration of these weapons into neighboring areas of mainland SE Asia.

Ian.
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
My humble offering, silver and bronze grip inscribed in burmese with a Phoenix bird. shortish grip & ornate pommel. Last time i posted it, no one could translate. Any additional info would be appreciated.
Wayne,

Not so humble IMO. Very nice dha with an unusual hilt. I cannot translate the Burmese script unfortunately.

Ian.
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Old 4th April 2018, 04:12 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Dekker
... When digging through Mark Bowditch's site on the matter he often refers to an outdated system that he calls the "Greaves-Winston typology". An internet search found this term only to be used on his site, and on this forum.

I wonder, what is the source of this typology? Who are Greaves and Winston and where can I find the text where they classify these items? ...
Peter,

To respond directly to your questions, I think much of what I wrote already here answers the main thrust of your questions. As to text describing this classification, much of that was on the old Vikingsword UBB site, but that site was hacked and is no longer accessible. Nathaniel has referred you to the Macau "History of Steel" site, and that reflects the thinking of Mark, Andrew and myself about 12 years ago. Since then both Mark and Andrew have largely disappeared from this Forum, and I was also absent for a couple of years due to illness. As a result, the Dha Index and our attempts at the classification of dha/daab came to a halt. New blood is definitely needed to help resume the task!

Both Nathaniel and I have been in touch with international experts on Thai swords in recent years. They have helped identify and distinguish between the confusing array of Thai/Lao/Cambodian daab/daav in our various collections, as well as classify numerous online examples, such that a newer and more rational nosology might be attempted for much of the Dha Index. This all takes time and effort, of course, and we are otherwise busy people. Those interested in helping with this type of work might indicate their interest here. Previous attempts to put together such a group were unsuccessful, but perhaps we will find more enthusiastic participation now.

Please post your thoughts and ideas. I don't want to hijack Peter's thread, but his questions were broad and inquiring so perhaps he won't mind if we digress a little.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 4th April 2018 at 04:49 AM.
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Old 4th April 2018, 06:07 PM   #18
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You rang?
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Old 5th April 2018, 05:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
You rang?


Hello Andrew . Pull up a chair!
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Old 5th April 2018, 06:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
My humble offering, silver and bronze grip inscribed in burmese with a Phoenix bird. shortish grip & ornate pommel. Last time i posted it, no one could translate. Any additional info would be appreciated.


Hello Wayne,

I called in a favor and a friend translated.

Last edited by Nathaniel : 5th April 2018 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 5th April 2018, 06:50 PM   #21
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“King Peacock of Burma”
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Old 5th April 2018, 06:51 PM   #22
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Thanks., I suspect the bird may have been added later. I do not think it was a 'royal' sword, maybe just one given to someone & decorated later.

So it is the royal Peacock (not a phoenix ) I suspected it might be a peacock.

Any more accurate translation on the inscription on the silver bit?

Last edited by kronckew : 5th April 2018 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 5th April 2018, 07:56 PM   #23
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“beware of fraud/ fake”

ie..beware of fake/ imitators of swords with peacock logo?.
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Old 5th April 2018, 09:12 PM   #24
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Old 5th April 2018, 09:45 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaniel
“beware of fraud/ fake”

ie..beware of fake/ imitators of swords with peacock logo?.

Makes my day. I'll watch for copies on eBay.
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