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Old 23rd February 2017, 04:52 PM   #31
Ian
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Default Pictures from Oriental Arms' site (part 2)

Here is the Thai/Lao example with a segmented scabbard but without decoration on the silver panels. The style of this one reminds me of the Thai/Lao daab I posted above with the repoussed panels.

---------------Attachment----------------

Thai/Lao daab with segmented silver scabbard with undecorated panels.

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Old 24th February 2017, 03:26 AM   #32
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Default Pandora

I love Pandora's box Ian, everything goes right out the window in such a mish mash region :-)

About the swords you presented.

#1, I am honestly, not entirely convinced that is an original marriage of blade and scabbard, something to discuss as we go if the sword surfaces and better images and information is available.

#2, I see this as Shan Burma work, exactly what museums have noted with shallow repousse work.

#3, I see this as Shan Burma silver craft as well.

#4, I cannot from the images so one way or the other but I see that this could also be Shan Burma

A question that comes to mind, and it comes to mind because of the generic term used, What constitutes a "Story" Dah?
Must it jut be the blade telling the story or much the scabbard also tell a story in repousse? Must the story, if a blade only is to be considered, must it tell of the tale/s of Jataka or simply be decoration of birds, elephants and chinthe?
Using this link for example, there are Burmese swords, do both classify as "Story" Dah, one fullly decorated blade, one partial? Note the more common sectional scabbard there too.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...423&postcount=5

I've added a random sectional scabbard image below on a sword I'd call Northern Thai in to Laos.

Many of my sold swords, I can say with conviction, my opinions have changed over time as information comes to hand...say s990 for example. Once I thought this to be Thai for many reasons, now I consider it Shan Burma based on the Vittorio Emanuele sword and those swords in the 1903 Delhi Durbar images. Some others, I'd add more specific data given the chance.

Lets look to Mark's site,there is a good amount of Dah and Daab to choose from with sectional scabbard and decorated blades. I have only chosen sword length inventory.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0011.htm
This is the exact type of demise in the craft that I previously mentioned and the larger pairs I know were purchased in 1954 in Kachin Burma.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0051.htm
Another of the Burma plain sectional type. "Story" blade.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0065.htm
Another Burma, I've quite a few of these in my sold listing, with many different decorations to the blades, hence my question above, what makes a story Dha?

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0062.htm
An interesting sword, I'd call the blade Laos through to Tonkin border regions but the dress Shan. Its in the same basket I placed sold stock s990.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0064.htm
Shan sectional silver dress...these sword types have the thinest finest silver sheet, hardly comparable to the type initially presented here which are thick, heavy and robust sections. Which leads me to a point of note, about from Iains sectional example and the scabbard of the one I question from Artzi's site, I personally would say that most others mentioned of plain sectional type found on the Thai/Lao sword types would crush and crumple under hand if not supported by the timber core.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0070.htm
As per inventory 0064 above. You can see how easily the silver breaks and creases.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0069.htm
I note Mark's question mark, and I can see the confusion...Laos Shan gets my vote, but even then its rocky....I think it could be a marriage.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0074.htm
The sword in the initial thread post, one we should get back to in the discussion :-)

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/0075.htm
Its a real nice Burman Dah, but coming back to my question, what makes a "story" dah a Story Dah...this is only decoration...

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0008.htm
Another Burman blade decorated with animals...does it quality...

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0013.htm
Another nice Shan Dah with fill silver sectional scabbard.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0015.htm
No much to say other than there is sections and its Burma???

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0036.htm
Low repousse sectional Burmese Dah of nice form.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0045.htm
As a note, this is the typical Thai Laos silver scabbard form, single sheet with seperate end...I provide a sectional example in the image below, a rare aspect.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0050.htm
Another showing the typical scabbard design I note about, nice to see the hilt apart, showing the robust sections of the hilt.

http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/C0052.htm
Another nice all sectional silver Shan Dah.

Gavin
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Old 24th February 2017, 02:39 PM   #33
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Gavin:

Yes, things do indeed get complicated in this area. The Shan are a very interesting group, being ethnically Tai, and are included in the same ethnographic group as the Lao (who are also Tai/Dai). The broad group of Tai in southern Yunnan, northern Thailand, Laos and eastern Burma (Shan States) comprise the major concentration of these peoples in SE Asia. The Tai and Chinese are cognate races, quite distinct from the Burmans and Kachins who are Tibeto-Burman in origin.

That we see so much intermingling of styles in northern Thailand, Laos, southern Yunnan and the neighboring Shan States is not surprising. I would say that the Shan culture, in general, is more Sinocized than the Lao, and this follows through somewhat in the styles we see on their weapons and scabbards.

While there is some overlap between the scabbards of the Shan and Lao, I see some important differences too. The Shan style uses far more metal (usually silver) wire in its execution, with rosettes and scalloped designs being quite prominent. The Lao style features more repoussed metal work on its scabbards. These different techniques are important, I think, in distinguishing the two styles. I would be the first to agree that occasional examples of "mixed" styles do exist, but given the close geographical proximity of the two groups in northern Thailand/Laos, and their common ethnographic links, that is probably not surprising.

When I went through your old pictures and Artzi's site I was careful to pick out the obvious Shan examples and did not include them.

As to what constitutes a "story dha," I don't think we need to be overly complicated. For me, the "story dha" is related solely to the blade (although that may be complemented by an accompanying scabbard that has related graphics). The blade should contain full-length metal inlaid decorations, using a "koftgari" technique, that comprise graphical elements and accompanying Burmese text relating an historical, mythical, or spiritual "story." Both sides of the blade should be treated in this manner.

This definition would exclude, for example, those sword blades with purely vegetal or animal representations, even though these may be done in the same manner as the "story dhas." Also excluded would be those blades with less than full length inscriptions, of which there are examples with a brief piece of Burmese text and a few vegetal designs.

Returning to the subject of this thread, and its relationship to what we have been discussing. I would definitely classify the sword as a "story dha." The hilt is unusual, with a face on the pommel. When we look at other "story dha," however, we see a lotus bud pommel, in various forms, some of which resemble the large flamboyant forms seen on Shan dha, and others the smaller lotus bud style on northern Thai/Lao swords.

Let me make a suggestion. The Burmese "story dha" is actually a production of the Shan craftsmen in eastern Burma, drawing on indigenous Shan and Tai/Lao traditional silver work, with the lotus bud pommel and segmented scabbard being features of those areas, along with repoussed silver work on the scabbards.

There is a precedent for the production of prestigious swords by the Shan for other ethnic groups in Burma. The last example you cite from Mark's site is a silver dha in the Shan style but which Mark labeled as Kachin. That designation was made because there are several published photographs of prominent Kachin leaders bearing just this type of sword in processions and other Kachin ceremonies (see attachment). Does that make it Kachin or is it always Shan?

As you say, this area is a Pandora's box, with so much intermingling that it is hard to know what comes from where.

Ian.

--------------Attachment----------------

Kachin formal political meeting with traditional parading with dha. The Jingphaw Times, January 19, 1951.

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Last edited by Ian : 24th February 2017 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 24th February 2017, 04:02 PM   #34
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A really interesting thread most illuminating. I have a story dha but it was just stuck in a shed for years by a previous owner and suffered quite a bit of corrosion. The scabbard and hilt are of wood covered with silvered brass. It appears to be one of those made when the skills had declined.
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Old 24th February 2017, 07:28 PM   #35
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Hi Miguel:

Yes, that sword is one of the more recently made ones, although I have seen worse examples.

When I was starting to collect (many years ago) I was given a Burmese "story dha" that was probably made around 1950. I still have it somewhere. It is covered in yellow brass that was once cleaned by a previous owner with Brasso, a commercial polish that is renowned for leaving a heavy, white powdery residue. Fortunately, the sword itself was of very low quality so the residue did not detract from it.

I have one of the poor quality Lao swords with segmented scabbard also. That came as an add in with another sword that I wanted. It has a terrible blade made from sheet metal, and the hilt and scabbard are also made from a silvery base metal.

One day I will give these to someone I really don't like very much! In the meanwhile they sit in storage. Perhaps I will get them out and post them here to show what not to acquire.

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Old 24th February 2017, 09:05 PM   #36
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Default Two crappy dha/daab

Miguel:

Here are the two poor examples I mentioned.

Ian.

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Old 25th February 2017, 01:05 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Let me make a suggestion. The Burmese "story dha" is actually a production of the Shan craftsmen in eastern Burma, drawing on indigenous Shan and Tai/Lao traditional silver work, with the lotus bud pommel and segmented scabbard being features of those areas, along with repoussed silver work on the scabbards.


From what understand there is some truth to this statement in some respects, the truth of the matter though, is that it is Burmese silverware, made in Burma.

To better contextualise the Burmese craft of the period that these repousse Burmese swords were made, and including reference to known Shan import silverware with influences from as far away as Thailand in Burmese work, I refer to Joseph Cohen's dialogue on Tilley's publication.

http://www.josephcohenantiques.com/...s-silversmiths/
http://www.josephcohenantiques.com/...ription-plates/
http://www.josephcohenantiques.com/...iptions-plates/

I think this is a very fine representation of the Shan style silverwork;
http://www.josephcohenantiques.com/...burmese-beaker/


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
There is a precedent for the production of prestigious swords by the Shan for other ethnic groups in Burma. The last example you cite from Mark's site is a silver dha in the Shan style but which Mark labeled as Kachin. That designation was made because there are several published photographs of prominent Kachin leaders bearing just this type of sword in processions and other Kachin ceremonies (see attachment). Does that make it Kachin or is it always Shan?


The BIG spanner to throw in to the mix here is that Yunnan sword smiths have also been making this sword type for a very long time and well in to the 20th century including the making of other countries knives too, from what direction did the sword in the newspaper come from...a study for another day.

Regarding what constitutes a story Dah, I agree totally...it then just runs from presentation grade to market grade.
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Old 25th February 2017, 02:09 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gavin Nugent:

From what understand there is some truth to this statement in some respects, the truth of the matter though, is that it is Burmese silverware, made in Burma.
Gavin:

I guess it comes down to whether one wishes to speak geographically or ethnographically. I think we would both agree that these "story dha" are not Kachin or Karen in origin, and probably not Burman; however, each of these ethnic groups is "Burmese" as defined by the boundaries of Myanmar and former Burma under British rule. [I won't get into the broken promises of homelands for minority populations in this country that would have given the Shan, Kachin, and Karen their independence 60 years ago.]

My preference is to define these dha in terms of the ethnic group(s) from which they come, regardless of geography. In this case, I think we can agree that "story dha" are most likely a product of the greater group of Tai, and more specifically the southern Tai* (which includes Shan, Thai, Lao, and other less common groups). This larger group has sub-styles in swords, in part depending on the degree of Chinese influence, and bridges the national geographic boundaries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, northern Vietnam and southern China.

However, by removing the geographic constraints that apply to national borders and the use of associated terms (Burmese, Thai, Lao, Chinese, etc.), I think we can get a better picture of cultural items such as dha/daab/dao and arrive at a clearer understanding of the diffusion of their styles among the various ethnic groups in the region. In this way, I think the picture becomes less of a melting pot and starts to make more sense.

I do think our traditional collecting world has been rather lazy in continuing much of the earlier colonial approach for attributing cultural artifacts by geographic identity rather than ethnographic group. "Burmese" is an archaic term, just as "Siamese" or "Vietnamese." At best, these terms are a starting point in the discussion of the origin of cultural items such as dha/daab/dao in the region.

Ian.

* I use the term southern Tai to distinguish them from their northern brethren. The northern Tai (Shan) arrived in their present region a few centuries before their southern cousins, and at one time occupied and controlled what is now northern Burma and Assam (the latter deriving its name from "Shan"), extending into Tibet. The southern group of Tai was driven south by Kublai Khan in the 13th C. and came to occupy much of what is now southern Burma, Thailand, Laos, and southern Yunnan, China.
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Old 25th February 2017, 02:10 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Miguel:

Yes, that sword is one of the more recently made ones, although I have seen worse examples.

When I was starting to collect (many years ago) I was given a Burmese "story dha" that was probably made around 1950. I still have it somewhere. It is covered in yellow brass that was once cleaned by a previous owner with Brasso, a commercial polish that is renowned for leaving a heavy, white powdery residue. Fortunately, the sword itself was of very low quality so the residue did not detract from it.

I have one of the poor quality Lao swords with segmented scabbard also. That came as an add in with another sword that I wanted. It has a terrible blade made from sheet metal, and the hilt and scabbard are also made from a silvery base metal.

One day I will give these to someone I really don't like very much! In the meanwhile they sit in storage. Perhaps I will get them out and post them here to show what not to acquire.

Ian.


Thanks Ian you have confirmed my thoughts. I have always thought that the repoussť work was not that good and this thread has more than confirmed it, thanks also for showing your poor quality swords.
Would you put the age of these swords including mine to the 1950s approx. Thanks again Miguel
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Old 25th February 2017, 02:43 PM   #40
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Just to add a further graphic regarding the use of Shan dha by the Kachin. The attached picture comes from the book by Bertil Lintner, The Kachin: Lords of Burma's Northern Frontier. People and Cultures of Southeast Asia. Teak House Publishers. 1997. p. 37.

Ian.

------------------Attachment------------------

Shan dha used by Kachin for ceremonial purposes

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Old 25th February 2017, 03:38 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel
... Would you put the age of these swords including mine to the 1950s approx. Thanks again Miguel
Miguel:

I would say yours could be pre-WWII, say 1930s. I would put my Story Dha at somewhat later, around 1950. The Lao sword I showed is later still, probably 1980s or even more recently.

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Old 26th February 2017, 01:39 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Gavin:

I guess it comes down to whether one wishes to speak geographically or ethnographically. I think we would both agree that these "story dha" are not Kachin or Karen in origin, and probably not Burman; however, each of these ethnic groups is "Burmese" as defined by the boundaries of Myanmar and former Burma under British rule. [I won't get into the broken promises of homelands for minority populations in this country that would have given the Shan, Kachin, and Karen their independence 60 years ago.]

My preference is to define these dha in terms of the ethnic group(s) from which they come, regardless of geography. In this case, I think we can agree that "story dha" are most likely a product of the greater group of Tai, and more specifically the southern Tai* (which includes Shan, Thai, Lao, and other less common groups). This larger group has sub-styles in swords, in part depending on the degree of Chinese influence, and bridges the national geographic boundaries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, northern Vietnam and southern China.

However, by removing the geographic constraints that apply to national borders and the use of associated terms (Burmese, Thai, Lao, Chinese, etc.), I think we can get a better picture of cultural items such as dha/daab/dao and arrive at a clearer understanding of the diffusion of their styles among the various ethnic groups in the region. In this way, I think the picture becomes less of a melting pot and starts to make more sense.

I do think our traditional collecting world has been rather lazy in continuing much of the earlier colonial approach for attributing cultural artifacts by geographic identity rather than ethnographic group. "Burmese" is an archaic term, just as "Siamese" or "Vietnamese." At best, these terms are a starting point in the discussion of the origin of cultural items such as dha/daab/dao in the region.

Ian.

* I use the term southern Tai to distinguish them from their northern brethren. The northern Tai (Shan) arrived in their present region a few centuries before their southern cousins, and at one time occupied and controlled what is now northern Burma and Assam (the latter deriving its name from "Shan"), extending into Tibet. The southern group of Tai was driven south by Kublai Khan in the 13th C. and came to occupy much of what is now southern Burma, Thailand, Laos, and southern Yunnan, China.


Ian,

I disagree with the notion that these "Story Dah" are not Burman.

I appreciate the history lesson of the last 800+ years of people movement in SEA, but in relation to where this movement of the past sits in relation to the time period and place of these "Story Dah", they are Burman.

To bucket this sword type as it is seen during the British Raj and beyond in to Burmese nationalism and also much earlier Burmese symbolism and iconography in to anything other than Burmese is incorrect.

To drill down as you want, you may as well have no identification for any sword of the regions throughout the last 800 years and trace it back to a single prototype of the Dah and move along...every period and every place in every part of time had its own development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
As to what constitutes a "story dha," I don't think we need to be overly complicated. For me, the "story dha" is related solely to the blade (although that may be complemented by an accompanying scabbard that has related graphics). The blade should contain full-length metal inlaid decorations, using a "koftgari" technique, that comprise graphical elements and accompanying Burmese text relating an historical, mythical, or spiritual "story." Both sides of the blade should be treated in this manner.

Where else in the entire SEA region of the past, other than Burma, do you find a sword that fits your criteria of the "Story Dah"?

Personally, for me, the "Story Dah" must as a whole must have the overlaid silvered blade presenting the previous lives of Buddha and also be of fine repousse silver dress with characters from the Burmese version of the Ramayana. I further feel strongly that the pommels must be of the large lotus form that they are known for.
I strongly suspect that the "Story Dah" form itself, is based on the image I've presented below being of the Four Kings of Heaven, not specifically this image alone but all relevant iconography of the past.
These guardians are known as Lokapala, Sanskrit and Pāli for "guardian of the world". Look closely at the pommel shapes and that of the silver repousse dressed "Story Dah".
I can see a direct relationship as to how these "Story Dah" became presentation swords to those who served in the national interest of Burma.
As a side note, the animals depicted on the blades that are not in full repousse silver dress also part of the previous lives of Buddha.

I do not think the collectors of today are lazy in pointing out origins based on the colonial players of the past...the weapons largely discussed in these pages are from this modern period in time, a period in time were wars continued with or without colonial interference, "modern" borders were mostly already established for centuries, and these weapons were collected during this time and within these borders, and lucky enough for anyone interested today, they offer a great insight in to these cultural artefacts and a time specific were provenance is known. I see no reason to not work within a known border if a weapon dates within the period that that border was known. From this point, to drill down further in to a cultural history of the object is further necessary to understand more.

I've included some excerpts from Tilly's monograph on Burmese silver, 1904 and some images. that align with the "Story Dah" as I see it.

Note the group of individual statuettes, the characters depicted on the "Story Dah" scabbards, being six characters in the Burmese version of the Ramayana.

Below is the English coat of arms on a "Story Dah", followed by the Burmese coat of arms on a post WWII silver presentation "Story Dah"

Below this, I've included it specifically for you Ian, a 1920ish Burmese bowl reputed to have been made in north east Shan region of Burma.

Gavin
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Old 26th February 2017, 02:00 PM   #43
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Hi Gavin:

I'm having trouble following your last few posts where you seem to jump from one group to another in pressing your case for these swords being "Burmese" in style and concept. I have no problem accepting these were made within the geographical boundaries of "Burma." What I have argued is that the style of these is inherently Tai (Shan/Thai/Lao) with the use of lotus bud pommels and segmented scabbard decorations, usually with repoussed elements. The ethnicity of the actual craftsmen is unknown, and we can speculate but we may never know exactly where and by whom these swords were actually made.

And we have this from Dan Wilke who found the sword and purchased it for Mark (see post #6 of this thread)--the emphasis is mine:
Quote:
What I'm sure Mark is too humble to tell you is that a professor in Chiang Mai had specifically requested this sword from the dealer to use in an upcoming book he will publish on the swords of the North. He at least thought it was historically significant.
I think we have exhausted this topic for the present time but it would be good to revive it when further data become available.

Thanks for all the interesting information that you provided.

Ian.

Last edited by Ian : 26th February 2017 at 02:40 PM. Reason: Added quote from Dan Wilke
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Old 26th February 2017, 10:09 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The ethnicity of the actual craftsmen is unknown, and we can speculate but we may never know exactly where and by whom these swords were actually made.


Burma Ian. It has long been recorded and written about, this type of silver work found on the scabbard of the first sword in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
And we have this from Dan Wilke who found the sword and purchased it for Mark (see post #6 of this thread)--the emphasis is mine:

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilked aka Khun Deng
It gets better looking every time I see it. I have yet to see it's equal in a story dha. What I'm sure Mark is too humble to tell you is that a professor in Chiang Mai had specifically requested this sword from the dealer to use in an upcoming book he will publish on the swords of the North. He at least thought it was historically significant.

This is the fourth time I've seen a similiar face on the pommel of a asian sword. Two were on the pommel caps of japanese style thai swords of high ranking individuals and another on a dha. Anybody have any ideas where it comes from?


Ian.


13 years and eagerly awaiting the book and or the good professors word on the sword. Does anyone know who he is?

Does anyone have a copy they can share if it has indeed been printed?

I still stand by the point that the hilt entire has been made at a much later date as has the added panel referencing 1798, a panel which replaced this coat of arms below.

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Old 28th February 2017, 03:45 PM   #45
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One last comment on the original subject of this thread.

I have received comments that the head on the pommel of Mark's sword is a representation of RAHU who appears in the Vedas as the God of the Underworld and is depicted in the iconography of diverse Buddhist groups in SE Asia. Details about RAHU and his disembodied head can be found here. He is designated as the astrological god of the north pole of the moon, and more powerful than the Sun God whom he swallows during an eclipse. He's a powerful dude!


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Old 28th February 2017, 08:45 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Miguel:

I would say yours could be pre-WWII, say 1930s. I would put my Story Dha at somewhat later, around 1950. The Lao sword I showed is later still, probably 1980s or even more recently.

Ian.


Thanks for the info and apologies for the delay in reply.
Regards
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Old 1st March 2017, 05:55 AM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
One last comment on the original subject of this thread.

I have received comments that the head on the pommel of Mark's sword is a representation of RAHU who appears in the Vedas as the God of the Underworld and is depicted in the iconography of diverse Buddhist groups in SE Asia. Details about RAHU and his disembodied head can be found here. He is designated as the astrological god of the north pole of the moon, and more powerful than the Sun God whom he swallows during an eclipse. He's a powerful dude!


Ian.


If this hilt is as I feel it is, a much later addition by Thai craftsmen it would be appropriate to say the form is Rahu as it is more often known in their iconography.
If by some miracle, this is a true marriage if hilt and blade, with regards to the iconography throughout the sword type, it should be a representation of Balu.

Gavin
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Old 1st March 2017, 10:37 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Nugent
If this hilt is as I feel it is, a much later addition by Thai craftsmen it would be appropriate to say the form is Rahu as it is more often known in their iconography.
If by some miracle, this is a true marriage if hilt and blade, with regards to the iconography throughout the sword type, it should be a representation of Balu.

Gavin
Hi Gavin:

I think you mean "Belu" rather than "Balu." Balu (Baloo) is the cuddly bear character from "The Jungle Book."

Ian.
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Old 1st March 2017, 11:01 PM   #49
Gavin Nugent
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Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Gavin:

I think you mean "Belu" rather than "Balu." Balu (Baloo) is the cuddly bear character from "The Jungle Book."

Ian.


Ian

Either or is acceptable, or Bilu if you like :-), Beloo has been written too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythi...urmese_folklore

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilu_Island

Gavin
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