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Old 24th October 2014, 09:10 AM   #1
Royston
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Default DHAS / DAABS FOR DISCUSSION

I have seen a few of these red/black Dhas over the years. I have two and a friend has two which are almost identical.

It has been suggested that they are military but I have been offered no evidence of this.

They all seem to have rather crude blades, thick brass fittings and the scabbards are either lacquered or painted with a thick red and black substance.

sizes are similar, all being approximately 27 inches overall length, with a +/- 10 inch hilt.

Any suggestions as to origin will be welcome.

Regards
Roy
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Old 26th October 2014, 12:23 AM   #2
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Hello Royston:

Thank you for putting up pictures of these dha of which there are very few around. I have seen maybe a half dozen in the last 20+ years but never found one for sale. I don't have any specific information to offer as to who made them, where they may be from, or what group used them.

However, based on certain elements of style, I think we can narrow the field a bit. The rather short hilt-to-blade ratio suggests we are dealing with a Burman or Shan sword that would more likely be found west of the Salween River (which divides much of Myanmar and Thailand). This origin is reinforced by the three primary segments of the hilt that are of roughly equal length: metal ferrule–wooden core–metal ferrule. Such hilts are more typical of dha found in Burma/Myanmar than daab found in Thailand or Laos.

The scabbards with metal chape and toe, the toe squared off, and metal bands holding the two wooden halves together are correct for Burmese/Shan origin, although other parts of SE Asia use similar arrangements.

The Shan/Tai are quite capable of making dha like these, and since they (and their closely related kin) can be found in Burma, Yunnan, northern Thailand and parts of Laos, this might suggest a fairly wide area of potential origin. However, the "Burmese" style of these swords suggest that if they are of Shan manufacture they would come from the more western areas of the Shan people, those living in Burma or Yunnan.

I would be inclined to label these as "Burmese" to indicate the area and style which best fit them, rather than an indication of a particular ethnic origin. As to why they are decorated with alternating red and black segments on the scabbards and red central areas of the hilt, I'm afraid I don't know but would like to find out also.

Would it be possible to post the pictures of your friend's other two examples. They might shed some additional light on their origin.

Regards,

Ian
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Old 26th October 2014, 01:18 PM   #3
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Thanks Ian.

I appreciate your comments and explanation. Never considered these as rare as in the past I saw quite a few in England. However, it has been many years since I saw one for sale. I keep forgetting how fast the time flies.

I will try and get some photos from my friend. Might be a delay as he is unwell at the moment and we no longer live close to each other so I cannot get them myself.

Regards
Roy
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Old 15th January 2015, 02:31 PM   #4
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Hello Ian

Got to see and take some photos of the two belonging to my friend.
Dimensions are almost the same as my two examples.

Cheers
Roy
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Old 15th January 2015, 07:27 PM   #5
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Roy:

Thank you so much for posting these additional pictures. Since we last spoke, I have tracked down a probable origin for these two dha. Although they are almost certainly of "Burmese" manufacture (Shan or possibly Husa work), their use is likely attributable to the Chin-Lushai of the NE India/Assam region.

In a recent post on knives from this area, I came across a reference to the types of scabbards that are shown on your two examples. The other thread is found here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=19383

Posted below is a figure from Ian Heath's, Armies of the Nineteenth Century: Asia 3. India's North-East Frontier, 1999, p. 74. Here is the faint text which accompanied the diagrams.
Though they were drawn from Shendu examples, these weapons are all equally characteristic of most other Chin-Lushai peoples. They comprise (1) a spear with a typical lozenge shaped blade and a butt-spike; (2) a quiver, complete with lid secured by a piece of string; (3) a typical Chin-Lushai bracer; (4) a dao (takong); (5) a basketwork dao scabbard with shoulder strap; (6) a sword (zozi); (7) a typical decorated mithun-horn powder-flask; and (8) a small brass-handled knife and scabbard. These all come from N.E. Parry's The Lakhars (1932). They were obviously not drawn to scale, but there is a rule adjacent to each individual drawing which the artist has graduated in inches.
On the following page, Heath has this to say about some of the edged weapons.
"The Shendu dao (called a takong) was 18–22 inches (46–56 cm) from the tip of the blade to the end of the bamboo handle. It was most often thrust through the loincloth waistband behind the back or was carried in the usual haversack that was slung over one or other shoulder, but cane scabbards with a bone chape were sometimes seen, suspended at the left side with a leather baldric or a cane hoop worn over the right shoulder. Chiefs and leading warriors might substitute a variety of long handled dao called a zozi. This was actually a curved sword of Burmese provenance, which had a blade up to about 19 inches (48 cm) long and a brass ornamented handle of about another 10–11 inches (25–28 cm). It had a brass scabbard described by Parry as 'lacquered in red or black, or in alternate sections of red or black'.

Thank you again for sharing these very unusual examples of Burmese dha.

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Old 15th January 2015, 08:36 PM   #6
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Thanks Ian

Very interesting.
A bit of coincidence perhaps, but looking at the other thread and the included knife now leads me to add some more photos.

This one was a puzzle yesterday, but perhaps not today

Regards
Roy
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Old 15th January 2015, 08:46 PM   #7
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missed a photo
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Old 16th January 2015, 04:42 PM   #8
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Roy:

Nice knife and unusual as you suggest. It appears to be "Burmese" in style and might well be from the same area as the swords below.

Ian.
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Old 16th January 2015, 06:32 PM   #9
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Nice pieces Roy, & fascinating to see Ians old book ref. describing them!

Well done Ian! The old drawing ,pics & catalogues so often have the answers!

As for your knife Roy, it certainly looks like the line drawing to me!
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Old 17th January 2015, 01:10 PM   #10
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Thanks for all your help Ian, it looks pretty conclusive.
Spiral, I quite agree with your comments about the old books.

Regards
Roy
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Old 6th July 2015, 12:52 AM   #11
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Another example of this "transplanted" dha that I picked up recently. The red lacquer is not as prominent as in the other examples.

Ian.
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Old 6th July 2015, 01:14 AM   #12
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Just to complete the list of edged weapons mentioned in the reference above, here is a Shendu dao (takong) that measures 18.5 inches overall. The edge is chisel-ground, with a prominent bevel on one side and flat on the other.

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