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Thread: Small ivory/silver Dha with mysterious (possibly unimportant) writing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    86

    Small ivory/silver Dha with mysterious (possibly unimportant) writing

    This is the first time I make a post since God knows when; and to get to the point I should say that the reason for this is a small burmese Dha of the common fancy Ivory-handled silver-scabbarded type. Regrettably I don't have any better photos of it than these I am about to post, though of course I could take some should it be needed. I also hope you forgive me for asking about this since I suppose you could argue it is not a *proper* sword due to its small size

    Anyhow, here is a full photo of the little Dha; as can be seen, the ivory handle is somewhat cracked as I suppose should be expected with ivory that probably has spent the last century or so lying around on some shelf in a dusty living room.


    pardon the shadows! unfortunately i was always more skilled at painting than at photography!

    The blade has darkened quite much with age, although it's still evident that it once was (and in some aspects still is) a simple yet nice blade with a bit of distal taper for such a thin blade. Maybe this is common with such blades; I wouldn't know. Feel free to educate me as I've definately taken a liking to these blades as of late!


    the blade and scabbard


    Now as for my question regarding this little piece! At the base of the scabbard there is a small inscription, and it has been like candy for my fantasy ever since I first saw it. Asian languages is not my field of expertise; although I would say I know enough to say that this is definately not burmese writing, nor is it thai. A fair guess I suppose is that it could be chinese. Now what I would like assistance with is, of course, deciphering this (possibly) intriguing little piece of writing!

    Also, I'd be interested in knowing how often writing such as this ended up on weapons of this type My best guess so far is that perhaps this was given as some sort of trade or tribute to a visiting official or such; then again that would be contradicted by the fact that the characters appear to have been rather hastily inscribed by chisel (or such a tool) rather than properly engraved, etched or stamped into the silver. Maybe it was just brought back as a souvenir by a person of the country which's language the writing is in?

    Now for the bad part; sadly I don't have a photo where the writing shows up well. I can take one shortly if i can borrow a proper camera from someone, although until then I decided to do the next best thing and write down what it looks like to me on a piece of canvas with a piece of charcoal:



    I realise this is far from ideal, as I may have missed some detail of the writing when trying to copy it; also, for what I know, this may depict the text upside down, I wouldn't know!

    So there you have it! I'll be happy to provide you with the Dha's measurements, and of course better pictures if you'd like that!

    Any opinion about this at all would be most welcome!

    thank you,

    Alf Sjösvärd
    Agh! Potatoes and elderberries!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    86
    Replying to my own thread... creative!

    Really, i just found a more recent photo where the writing shows a bit; not that it's good enough to be read with certainty. I just wanted to include it to show how it is written.



    I don't know if it's worth mentioning, but the scabbard mouth fit has been tightened with thin pieces of wood; the original wood shows quite some shrinkage. Also, the silver casing on the scabbard has become slightly loose but does not appear "removable" without excessive usage of force (not that I would try to figure out if it is of course). A particularly ugly feature of this knife is that the seam where the silver casing has been joined into its tubular shape is quite evident. Maybe this would indicate it being a tourist piece more than the regular purpose of these knives (which; if I have understood correctly is that of a badge of honour and rank?). It's solidly done but not with the same degree of precision as the hilt silver fitting. Maybe it's just a coincidence?
    Agh! Potatoes and elderberries!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    86
    It appears to me now that this should be a date right? Oh my, maybe i should start lookng around properly before asking! That still leaves me asking for any guesses why a chinese date ends up on a burmese knife
    Agh! Potatoes and elderberries!

  4. #4
    Hello Alf,

    That's Chinese - it wouldn't be too surprising if this knife were sourced from Yunnan. Maybe you can take a rubbing (pencil, thin paper) and scan it? That should allow our Chinese members to translate it.

    Also better pics would help to assess the scabbard...
    Regards,
    Kai

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