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Old 14th December 2004, 05:31 AM   #1
kino
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Default Dha, dharb?? Regional ID, age??

My first Dha. Can you help with regional ID and age. Ray skin wrap nailed around hilt. Pommell missing. Blade closest to hilt is 3/8" thick. Fullers run along the entire length of the blade. Hollow ground. Spine tapers down. The blade is in good shape.
Thanks.
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Old 14th December 2004, 06:14 AM   #2
Andrew
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Cool first dha, Kino.

This one is Burmese. The blade tip is one of the more interesting, in my opinion.

I have a similar one in my collection. I'm on the fence as to whether the blade is for real, as it looks like stainless steel, and the grinding and fullering are quite precise, as if machined. I'd say mid-late 20th century, for my example. Your results may vary.
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Old 14th December 2004, 12:15 PM   #3
Ian
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Default Burmese dha

I agree with Andrew, although I think it is probably older -- early 20th C. -- based on a couple of similar examples I have. The ray skin hilt appears to have some age. I have not seen ray skin on the hilt of dha that I thought were post-WWII.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 14th December 2004 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 14th December 2004, 12:39 PM   #4
wilked aka Khun Deng
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Thumbs up Burmese

I definately concur with Andrew, Burmese. During one discussion with Lung Som reference tip shapes he drew me a picture of two hua tat shapes, the first with spine edge and blade edge protruding equal, this he claimed was Thai (which includes Northern Thailand) and another like yours with the blade side protruding out past the the spine which he said was Burmese. The simple three piece handle has been used in both northern Thailand and Burma, but most I've seen have been attributed to Burma. The spine work and specifically the transformation from a flat spine to almost a false edge part of the way down the spine I've only seen on those blades attributed to Burma.

I've found very little in my research so far that would conflict with the Greaves/Winston classification system when it comes to the blades of Northern Thailand and Burma. For this reason I'd say Shan. You may have seen me use the term darb questioningly in some posts, if that is causing confusion let me clear it up.

I have used darb in some posts as a term of reference because when I conducted interviews in Bangkok and Aranyik the term darb was the term used to reference all swords. All but Mrs. Nattapat were unfamiliar with the term dha. In my interview with her I noticed that she used the word darb for swords from central Thailand and dha for swords from Northern Thailand and Burma, I guess I unconsciously picked it up, but there are some differences between the two. I really hadn't thought about it till you asked the question in your post title.

The darb I've seen generally appear to have a thinner blade, at least they get substantially thinner as you move away from the hilt and are more flexible than the dha of northern Thailand and Burma (though I've never measured them). Those attributed to central Thailand had either a parrallel blade profile or a more pronounced belly swell and while many of the common darb blades also have the simple three piece handle the better pieces don't show the same handle configuration rather they are multi-pieced segmented construction. Additonally Lung Som has told me that Thai blades (again meaning "central Thailand") have squared shoulders at the tang while the northern and Burmese angle or are concave at the tang. With the limited number of blades that I have seen out of the handle that has held true. I'd like to know if anyone else has noticed this. While knowledge is still limited these are just general conclusions I've drawn - as yet unsubstantiated.

A Shan attributed blade, the blade side tip has obviously been worn down through use (in person you can see it).

Nice pick-up BTW.
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Old 14th December 2004, 01:35 PM   #5
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I was going to suggest specifically Shan states in Burma, too. I have always identified the use of ray skin and this kind of simple, three-part handle with Shan swords. That is an interesting point about the relative lengths of the two tips -- I learn something new about dha every day.

Blades in Northern Burma were widely traded, and in Shan culture blacksmithing was distained as a low-class occupation (silver-smithing was the work of nobles, in their view), and better Kachin smiths made a variety of blade shapes to suit their clients. Bearing in mind that the Kachin and Shan "territories" largely overlapped, with the Kachin living in the highlands and practicing dry rice cultivation and the Shan occupying the upland river valleys and practicing wet rice cultivation. This intimate contact between the groups is probably the reason that you see a rather typical Kachin blade design with a rather typical Shan handle on this example.
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Old 14th December 2004, 01:39 PM   #6
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Default Dha tip nomenclature

I was just looking at my notes of Dan's early post about the Thai names of various tip shapes. I have noted that the concave tip with even points is hua khong, and the tip with a backward-angled edge (like a daiao) is hua tat or hua chuey. Am I mixed up? And is there a separate term for the concave tip with uneven points?
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Old 14th December 2004, 02:29 PM   #7
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Default Head styles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Bowditch
I was just looking at my notes of Dan's early post about the Thai names of various tip shapes. I have noted that the concave tip with even points is hua khong, and the tip with a backward-angled edge (like a daiao) is hua tat or hua chuey. Am I mixed up? And is there a separate term for the concave tip with uneven points?

I edited that post after I returned from my second trip to Aranyik to clarify it now reads "hua tat khong". So in answer to your question the term would be the same. Hua tat literally translates as "head cut-off" and could refer to a square, concave or angled cut. Hua tat khong is "head cut-off curved" and could refer to either even points on the concave or either one being elongated. Hua chuey is "head angled" and as mentioned above it can also be refered to as hua tat.
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Old 14th December 2004, 03:36 PM   #8
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A very nice well made sword kino. Congratualations. I actually turned down several of these when I first started collecting dha ( calling myself a dummy ) as I was not attracted to the tip style. Then I got my first one and since then I have found that these blades are often some of the better made blades. I do not know if anyone else has had the same experience . Its not uncommon for a blade such as yours to have hardened inserted edges, active forging patterns or differential hardening. Thanks for sharing the pictures with us
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Old 14th December 2004, 03:38 PM   #9
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Perhaps we might be hasty about assigning different origins to dhas based on the relative projection of the tips--at least without looking at a very large sample and considering their age too.

The older example posted by Khun Deng, for instance, has less of a projection at the edge than the spine, but it looks like a blade that has been used and resharpened over time. Since it is the edge and not the spine that is sharpened, the point would have a tendency to get shorter as material is removed (and perhaps rounder as in that example), but the spine would presumably remain more or less intact, saving the occasional ding.
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Old 14th December 2004, 11:01 PM   #10
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilked aka Khun Deng
I've found very little in my research so far that would conflict with the Greaves/Winston classification system when it comes to the blades of Northern Thailand and Burma. ...

I have used darb in some posts as a term of reference because when I conducted interviews in Bangkok and Aranyik the term darb was the term used to reference all swords. All but Mrs. Nattapat were unfamiliar with the term dha. In my interview with her I noticed that she used the word darb for swords from central Thailand and dha for swords from Northern Thailand and Burma ...

The darb I've seen generally appear to have a thinner blade, at least they get substantially thinner as you move away from the hilt and are more flexible than the dha of northern Thailand and Burma (though I've never measured them). Those attributed to central Thailand had either a parallel blade profile or a more pronounced belly swell and while many of the common darb blades also have the simple three piece handle the better pieces don't show the same handle configuration rather they are multi-pieced segmented construction. Additonally Lung Som has told me that Thai blades (again meaning "central Thailand") have squared shoulders at the tang while the northern Thai and Burmese angle or are concave at the tang. With the limited number of blades that I have seen out of the handle that has held true. I'd like to know if anyone else has noticed this. While knowledge is still limited these are just general conclusions I've drawn - as yet unsubstantiated.
Dan:

Once more you have taken us beyond where we were. Bold emphasis is mine. These general observations are extremely helpful in locating the sites of manufacture and use more precisely. There is just no substitute for on the ground field intel. Thanks again.

Ian.
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Old 15th December 2004, 04:49 AM   #11
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Thank you for your replies. Not only did I learn something about the Dha's contruction, I also received a valuable lesson on the culture and the people that carried them. Ask and ye shall receive.
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