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Yaniv Ganor 8th February 2021 12:33 PM

A Dha of unkown origin
5 Attachment(s)
I have this Dha in my collection, The man whom I bought it from did not know anything about its origin. To my unprofessional eye it does not look touristy, although it cannot be too old, as some of the fittings look modern, e.g. there is some red plastic decorating the handle, a coin(?) on the butt of the handle and some tin (?) piece on the top of the scabbard. Either way, I came to hear the opinions of the experts here regarding this item.

The overall length is approximately 56 centimeters. The blade looks laminated to me, and there is some stamp on the blade, but it is not clear whether originally there was some text or logo, or just this plain annular shape.
The handle is wrapped in rattan, and there is what seems to be a coin on the butt of the handle.

Can you help me identify it's origin and period?

drac2k 10th February 2021 11:04 PM

I will make some observations(even though I am the least knowledgeable dha guy on the forum).
First, the coin on the pommel would indicate that it was either Cambodian or Vietnamese as these were both French Colonies until 1953 & 1954 respectively. Vietnam borders China, so maybe the "made in China," inscription is a further push towards a Vietnam origin.
The blade is not the typical tourist cutout dha form that so many GIs brought back from the war; I think that it is an older blade in newer mounts; I also think that the scabbard is more recent than the sword. In regards to the plastic being incorporated into the handle, I think that this was a decorative addition added at a later date and totally acceptable as a cultural progression as new materials became accessible.
I would guess the sword assembly being from the 1940s/'50s, with the blade being possibly older and the scabbard being newer.
If I were a sword collector I would be happy to have this one in my collection.
As stated before, I am not very knowledgeable in regards to dhas, so take my observations "with a grain of salt."

kai 10th February 2021 11:47 PM

More likely Laos...

Ian 11th February 2021 06:18 AM

Hi Yaniv:

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting this dha/daab. As noted by drac2K, this one has features consistent with northern Thai/Lao/Shan construction. I agree that the blade is well made and it shows a clear laminated structure. Polishing and etching might well show a hardened edge.

AS Drac has said, the blade may have some age and could be WWII in manufacture. There has been some more recent "dressing up" of the three-part hilt with the plastic wrap, and the scabbard may be a replacement. The form of the hilt in three parts with a simple brass ferrule is reminiscent of Shan/Burmese work.

The French coin suggests pre-1954 construction. The Chinese brass disk (with English inscription!) draws attention to the northern portions of French Indochina (Laos), Thailand, and neighboring Burma (Shan territories). My best guess is that this is either a Lao daab made around 1940-1954 or a Shan dha from the same period.

Nice, old style, working dha. A good honest piece from the Golden Triangle area.

Ian 11th February 2021 07:39 AM

3 Attachment(s)
I think I have a match for the "... HEAD BRAND" "MADE IN CHINA" disk that covers the mouth of the scabbard.

The following pictures are of vintage "TIGER HEAD BRAND" flashlights. Note the butt cap of this flashlight and the logo shown there. Looks very similar to your disk to me. I have not found any online history of the company making these flashlights. The flashlight style (in chromed tin) is probably post-Chinese Revolution, maybe 1950-1970. There are online estimates of the age of these "vintage" flashlights that cover that period.


Ren Ren 11th February 2021 09:42 PM

My applause! This is a very accurate and elegant investigation.

Ren Ren 11th February 2021 09:57 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Dao of the Ede people (Central Vietnam) from the Branly Museum.

Ian 12th February 2021 01:09 PM

Hi Ren Ren,

The Ede (aka Rhade, Rade, Dega, Degar) are an interesting people. The largest of Vietnam's ethnic minorities, they are commonly considered in the broad group of Montagnard tribes people. Widely recruited by South Vietnam and its U.S. allies in the fight against North Vietnam, there is a substantial population of Ede in the USA today.

The typical sword of the Montagnard was either a long-hilted version with a wide, acutely angled tip or a saber of a style indistinguishable from a common Lao daab. Indeed the Montagnard generally obtained the latter via trade with Lao merchants or smiths.

The sword you show is most likely one of those obtained by the Ede from a Lao source. Whether one calls it an Ede dao or a Lao daab is a matter of choice. It is possible that the sword that is the original topic of this thread found its way to Vietnam and became adorned with a French coin as a result.


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