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Thread: Latest purchase, Burmese Dha?

  1. #1

    Latest purchase, Burmese Dha?

    Please see my latest ebay purchase, which cost me £50. I believe it is from 1930's / 40's.
    Anything anyone can tell me about this sword (whether it is burmese in origin) and also tell me whether I got a good deal, would be appreciated...

    p.s - he was also selling the same sort of sword, but with a handle and scabbard both made out of Samrit. Which I believe is a gold & bronze alloy? He was asking £250 ($500). Are Samrit dha's easy to find or should I have bitten his hand off and bought it??




  2. #2
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    Hi Adam,
    I was also looking at this one and maybe WWII is right, but I think it could be later than that. The cord looks new. Always try to get good shots of the blade. If it is relatively thin, 1/4" or less then I think it's no good. The tourist pieces are usually thin and they have numerous S-shaped marks on them running along the spine or in clusters. I think this is Burmese as well, it looks Shan.
    Check out http://dharesearch.bowditch.us/ for examples of the different types.

    Regards,
    Emanuel
    Always check your assumptions...there are no contradictions.
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  3. #3
    wow thanks for your help mate, thats really appreciated..

  4. #4
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    Congrats on your first dha but a warning they are addictive. I agree that is looks like Shan, but also know these swords are used by many ethnic groups in the area and so the lines can be blurred. Myself I would say Thai because it looks like the blade widens towards the tip, but that could just be how I am seeing the picture. So, I could be way wrong. If it is Thai it would more properly be called a darb/daab. The scabbard style is common to many areas. Marks site is an excellent place for information, and the first place I would direct you to also . You may also want to try cozun.com to look at some contemporary dha of this style. The folks there have been our men on the ground so to speak providing a great deal of information on these forums form what they are finding out in conjunction with the museums in Thailand.

    A couple of other links that may be helpful
    http://www.arscives.com/historysteel...ea.article.htm

    http://www.arscives.com/historysteel....swordlist.htm

    http://www.usmta.com/thai-weapons.htm

    There are a couple of old Hoplos Magazine articles on these swords by Draeger. They are in some of the old texts but none of these contain more information than you will find on the above site.

    I know that there is still a great deal of research and discussion on dha on both this forum and vikingsword a search on both sites may be helpful

    lastly my few dha
    Last edited by JTCrosby; 10-29-2007 at 08:31 AM.
    Courage does not always roar
    Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says "I will try again tomorrow"

  5. #5
    a shan seems to be the closest match going from marks site...

    wow my friend you have a stunning collection of dha. so did i get a good deal for the price (£50 / $100)? And is 1930's-40's a good estimate of its age?

    I can find lots of info on dha but not alot about what they are worth these days. For instance the same seller was selling another dha with a complete samrit hilt and scabbard. It looked fantastic but he wanted £250 ($500) and i just didnt have a clue if it was worth it or not...

    but yes they are addictive, i just love the variations, its asif each dha is completely unique
    Last edited by Adam Hart; 10-29-2007 at 08:19 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Hart View Post
    wow my friend you have a stunning collection of dha. so did i get a good deal for the price (£50 / $100)? And is 1930's-40's a good estimate of its age?

    I can find lots of info on dha but not alot about what they are worth these days. For instance the same seller was selling another dha with a complete samrit hilt and scabbard. It looked fantastic but he wanted £250 ($500) and i just didnt have a clue if it was worth it or not...

    but yes they are addictive, i just love the variations, its asif each dha is completely unique
    Thank you for the kind words but having seen and handled some of the dha Mark, Ian and Andrew have I can say their collections put mine to shame

    Its hard to say from a picture but if the the blade is well forged I would be happy with it for what you got it for. Again age is really hard to get a feel for from a picture but it looks as if mid-20th century is a good guess. your sword may even be differentially hardend these swords often are. They are not often found polished or etched to show this so you sometimes have to look closely.

    As to what dha are worth that is something in a definite state of flux. I was lucky enough to get most of mine in the days when few people were interested in them and you could still find deals. Most folks had seen the tourist bringback dha/darb of the vietnam war era and thought they represented the quality of all swords from that region. Boy were they wrong. You can look on Artzi's site (oriental-arms.com), he often has dha his prices are fair, and his descriptions good. Charles Saunders sometimes sells dha on ebay and he has good quality stuff also at very fair prices. Ashoka arts site also often have dha you can use to get an idea of how prices can run. 500 US or much more is not an uncommon price for the higher end dha Anyway I know what I would pay for swords and sometimes I see then go for far more than that nowadays. So these are getting much much more popular.
    Last edited by JTCrosby; 10-29-2007 at 08:39 AM.
    Courage does not always roar
    Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says "I will try again tomorrow"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Hart View Post
    i just love the variations, its asif each dha is completely unique
    Welcome to the wonderful world of ethnographic arms collecting. Each piece is indeed unique and you can spend a lifetime identifying and cataloguing every feature and variation.

    I think for 50GBP you got a fair deal, Adam. I've been looking for something around the 100$ mark and it's hard to find anything good. The modern ones made by Cozun would do, but I prefer the older ones. I hope yours ends up having a good blade with good HT.
    Last edited by Emanuel Nicolescu; 10-29-2007 at 10:42 AM.
    Always check your assumptions...there are no contradictions.
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  8. Your dating is pretty accurate, I think. Definitely Shan. These people straddle the Burma-Thailand border, so it is easier to make an ethnic ID rather than a geographic one. The Shan generally make their own blades, and they lean toward the Thai profile, as John said. They are usually laminated, and I even see a hint of a demarcation line in the photo. If there are distinct shades in the patina along the edge versus the rest of the blade, that would indicate a laminated blade.

    The baldric is certainly a replacement, and so doesn't reflect the true age of the sword. It is a nice piece, and I think the price was fair.
    Mark Bowditch
    The Dha Research Archive
    "Let each one understand the meaning of sincerity, and guard against display!" Chuang Tzu, The Tower of the Spirit (XXIII.8)
    "There is no deadlier weapon than the will! The sharpest sword is not equal to it!" Chuang Tzu, The Inner Law (XXIII.8)

  9. #9
    thanks for all your help. Im lost as to what a 'laminated blade' is though? Is it a good thing???

  10. #10
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    Hi Adam, lamination is certainly a "good" thing, although "desirable" is probably a more accurate assessment. A laminated blade is essentially made by piling up rods of steel and forge welding them together. Ideally there would be a low-carbon-content (soft) steel towards the spine and a high-carbon-content (hard) steel making up the edge. The result is visible through etching with acid, you see strands of different hues piled one on top of the other. Search this forum for "pattern welding", "san-mai", and "hairpin" for more examples.
    Always check your assumptions...there are no contradictions.
    Get some real news...
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  11. Sorry, I should have been clearer. As Emanuel said, it refers to the us of two (or more) different steels to make up the blade, and is also called "sandwich" construction." In some Burmese dha, and I assume Shan/Thai, as they reported each other's swordsmiths back and forth during the several wars they had, a jacket of steel is put around a core of iron. Another common technique used in both Burma and Thailand (and other parts of the world) is called "inserted edge," where a blank of one type of steel, usually softer, is split along the edge and a strip of harder steel inserted and welded in. Yours could have either sandwich or inserted edge. The only way to know for sure is to cut in in half and view the cross-section, which I hope you will never do.
    Mark Bowditch
    The Dha Research Archive
    "Let each one understand the meaning of sincerity, and guard against display!" Chuang Tzu, The Tower of the Spirit (XXIII.8)
    "There is no deadlier weapon than the will! The sharpest sword is not equal to it!" Chuang Tzu, The Inner Law (XXIII.8)

  12. #12
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    Hi Mark, most dha were also selectively hardened were they not?
    Always check your assumptions...there are no contradictions.
    Get some real news...
    www.informationclearinghouse.info
    www.counterpunch.org
    http://globalresearch.ca

  13. #13
    thanks for your help. I am familiar with pattern welding steel, but didnt realise laminated refered to the same thing...

    were most dha's diff tempered aswell? are there example of dha's with a hamon / temper line?

    many thanks

  14. Quote Originally Posted by Emanuel Nicolescu View Post
    Hi Mark, most dha were also selectively hardened were they not?
    No, not most. It is not uncommon, especially in Thai dha, but sandwich/inserted edge is more common. I do have at least one that visibly shows both layered steel and edge hardening (maybe more that I just can not clearly see).
    Mark Bowditch
    The Dha Research Archive
    "Let each one understand the meaning of sincerity, and guard against display!" Chuang Tzu, The Tower of the Spirit (XXIII.8)
    "There is no deadlier weapon than the will! The sharpest sword is not equal to it!" Chuang Tzu, The Inner Law (XXIII.8)

  15. Quote Originally Posted by Adam Hart View Post
    thanks for your help. I am familiar with pattern welding steel, but didnt realise laminated refered to the same thing...

    were most dha's diff tempered aswell? are there example of dha's with a hamon / temper line?

    many thanks
    There are examples with distinct hamon. I have one that clearly was made using clay in the Japanese fasion, and I have seen a couple of others. More often you see hardened edges made by selectively heating the edge, then flipped over and quenched back-first in a long trough.

    There are a few examples on my website:

    #0016 has a differentially hardened edge done by the selective heating method. Not the broad waves in the temper line.

    #C0012 has a differentially hardened edge with a pattern consistent with the Japanese tradition.

    #C0001 has both an inserted edge/sandwich construction, and edge hardening with a pattern consistent with the Japanese tradition.

    #0056 has both an inserted edge/sandwich construction, and edge hardening, again by the selective heating method.

    As you can see, as with all things dha, the variety is infinite. That's why I love 'em.
    Mark Bowditch
    The Dha Research Archive
    "Let each one understand the meaning of sincerity, and guard against display!" Chuang Tzu, The Tower of the Spirit (XXIII.8)
    "There is no deadlier weapon than the will! The sharpest sword is not equal to it!" Chuang Tzu, The Inner Law (XXIII.8)

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