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Old 8th September 2016, 01:15 AM   #1
Marcus
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Default tourist item

But still sort of interesting. I think.
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Last edited by Robert : 8th September 2016 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 8th September 2016, 05:50 AM   #2
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But still sort of interesting. I think.


Why do you think it is a tourist thing?

Last edited by Robert : 8th September 2016 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 8th September 2016, 06:20 AM   #3
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Marcus, may i point out that if you are actually looking for serious discussion on this piece it would be helpful if you uploaded the photos from the action directly to this site. Before you known it the auction photos will be down on eBay and we will be left with a thread that has absolutely no illustration of the subject at hand rendering all future discussion of this piece quite impossible.
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Old 8th September 2016, 07:08 AM   #4
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Lightbulb Vietnam-era decorative dha

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Why do you think it is a tourist thing?
Marius,

These are decorative pieces that are not really intended for use as a weapon. They were produced in the 20th C and the quality is often fair to poor. The koftgari silver/copper alloy work relating Burmese stories along the blade is the main feature of such swords, although many lack this element and the blades are plain.

There are high end examples of this "story dha" genre, generally dating to the 19th C, but the ones that have embossed brass covered hilts and scabbards are almost always poor quality specimens made at a later time.

The example shown below is one of these lower quality pieces. The scabbard appears to be gilded wood. Although there is Burmese script on the blade, this one seems to have been made in northern Thailand or the neighboring Shan States judging from the shape of the blade. (Similar examples dressed in plain wood with heavily carved hilts and scabbards are commonly found, and are still being produced in northern Thailand.) This example seems to be from the mid-20th C. based on the inscription.

Sometimes called "temple dha" I don't know of any spiritual significance of these swords in their host culture. It is tempting to think they were made for sale beyond the local culture, mainly to Europeans, etc. Certainly, many found their way back to the U.S., transported by GIs returning from service in Vietnam. Variations in the decoration of the hilts and scabbards can include embossed or repoussed metal, pieces of mirrored glass, colored glass, gilt wood, etc. All were made as "decorative" pieces with dull, poorly tempered blades.

Ian
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Last edited by Ian : 8th September 2016 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Added pictures from the seller's site
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Old 8th September 2016, 12:19 PM   #5
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Default Thank you for adding the pictures

I was not on a proper computer last night. I was going to download the pictures today.
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Old 8th September 2016, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Marius,

These are decorative pieces that are not really intended for use as a weapon. They were produced in the 20th C and the quality is often fair to poor. The koftgari silver/copper alloy work relating Burmese stories along the blade is the main feature of such swords, although many lack this element and the blades are plain.

There are high end examples of this "story dha" genre, generally dating to the 19th C, but the ones that have embossed brass covered hilts and scabbards are almost always poor quality specimens made at a later time.

The example shown below is one of these lower quality pieces. The scabbard appears to be gilded wood. Although there is Burmese script on the blade, this one seems to have been made in northern Thailand or the neighboring Shan States judging from the shape of the blade. (Similar examples dressed in plain wood with heavily carved hilts and scabbards are commonly found, and are still being produced in northern Thailand.) This example seems to be from the mid-20th C. based on the inscription.

Sometimes called "temple dha" I don't know of any spiritual significance of these swords in their host culture. It is tempting to think they were made for sale beyond the local culture, mainly to Europeans, etc. Certainly, many found their way back to the U.S., transported by GIs returning from service in Vietnam. Variations in the decoration of the hilts and scabbards can include embossed or repoussed metal, pieces of mirrored glass, colored glass, gilt wood, etc. All were made as "decorative" pieces with dull, poorly tempered blades.

Ian



Thank you Ian for your very clear explanations! I was under the impression the silver koftgari blades were a sign of higher quality but something didn't quite add up with the quite poor workmanship.
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Old 15th September 2016, 05:04 PM   #7
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Default new pictures and some history

I attach new pictures of this sword. An unusual, and not very effective, technique was employed to decorate the blade. The surface was scratched and cross hatched. Then it appears that an effort was made to polish letters and images into the roughened surface. The effect is not very striking. It is difficult to bring out the images even by eye, and nearly impossible with photography.

The owner was Hugh J. Benn Jr. (November 21, 1918 - June 30, 2012). He enlisted in the Army in 1939 and served through World War II, the Korean War and during at least part of the Vietnam war era, achieving the rank of Chief Warrant officer Grade 4. Army Warrant Officers are technical experts and not usually combat soldiers. At various times in his army career, he was stationed in Japan, Germany, Ethiopia, and Burma. This sword tells us that in 1969 he served in the clandestine U. S. "Military Equipment Delivery Team” (MEDT), that provided military aid to the then current dictator of Burma, Gen. Ne Win.
The MEDT provided various sorts of supplies and equipment "conducted under the guise of a sales program, which allowed Burma to 'purchase', with token payments in non-convertible local currency, U.S. materiel and services provided through grant aid military assistance. Such an arrangement obviated most of the normal grant aid regulatory requirements, which are distasteful to Burma, and allows the maintenance of her posture of neutrality and nonalignment."* As of 1969, the Burma Military Assistance Program had provided approximately $50 million in investment items and $30 million in supporting items, training and related services.
The program was exposed in the American press in August 1970 and discontinued in 1971. A new Military Equipment Delivery Team was established in Cambodia.

* From a declassified report of the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command 1969 (originally defined as top secret).
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Old 15th September 2016, 05:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus
I attach new pictures of this sword. An unusual, and not very effective, technique was employed to decorate the blade. The surface was scratched and cross hatched. Then it appears that an effort was made to polish letters and images into the roughened surface. The effect is not very striking. It is difficult to bring out the images even by eye, and nearly impossible with photography.


This technique is called "koftgari" and the results can be absolutely stunning.... for high quality workmanship.
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Old 15th September 2016, 06:17 PM   #9
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Default koftgari?

Koft`ga`ri´

Ornamental work produced by inlaying steel with gold, - a variety of damascening much used in the arts of India.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.


There may be a bit of koftgari about the inlays but that would not apply to the gross scoring of the surface.

These are examples of what I would refer to as koftgari.
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Last edited by Marcus : 15th September 2016 at 06:22 PM. Reason: reconsideration
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