Thread: Burmese ? dha
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Old 16th April 2021, 03:11 AM   #3
Ian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Is the squared scabbard tip Chinese influence?
Simple question, but not simple to answer.

The origin of the Shan has been debated. Consensus seems to now be that they started in central/northern China, and were driven south by more powerful Chinese groups about a thousand years ago, finally settling in what is now eastern/southern Burma, northern Thailand, adjacent areas of Laos and southern Yunnan. Over time they expanded this area, notably into northern Burma. Ethnically, the Shan are related to other Tai/Dai peoples of the region, notably the Thai and Lao. Thus, although originally from China and having many cultural similarities to the Chinese, those living in southern Yunnan are considered by the Chinese Government to be an ethnic minority and therefore not truly Chinese.

The Husa people whom I mentioned in my previous reply are originally ethnic Chinese. It is said that they were likely remnants of a Ming Army in the 14th century that was sent to quell troublesome tribal groups in southern Yunnan, and some stayed behind when the army returned north. These soldiers intermarried with locals but retained much of their Chinese culture. They were particularly good sword makers and brought Chinese forging techniques, including the use of inserted hardened edges, to the local smiths. Since that time they have specialized in iron and steel, and are known for the high quality of their steel tools and weapons. Over the centuries they have aligned themselves with the Shan for political reasons, and live within the areas dominated by the Shan.

Back to your question, Jim. Does the flanged toe of the scabbard reflect Chinese influence? Probably, to some degree, I think it does. The Shan are a partly Sinocized culture, although a long way from the center of Chinese culture. For example, they have retained a semblance of Chinese dress for formal occasions and their leaders have been called mandarins.

Like so much in th human melting pot of SE Asia, it is hard for an outsider to really know what is happening. Added to which is the remoteness of much of the Shan territories. The Golden Triangle, well known for its opium growing, is located within Shan territory, and the Shan have long been involved with opium trading. It's not the safest part of the world for a westerner to visit.
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