Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: The Aussie Bush
Originally Posted by Peter Dekker
... Besides this the only other industry seems to be the manufacture of dhas, and that is confined to the Tarengs, who do not appear to be true Kachins. Mr. Errol Grey, who calls them the best blacksmiths of the Khakhu country, says that they make all the dhas worn by every Kachin and Hkamti Shan adult north of the confluence.
These dhas under the name of Hkamli dhas form one of the chief articles of trade between the Hkamti valley and Assam. The iron is found in the hills forming the boundary between the Tarengs and Khunnongs. It is of excellent quality and the knives are very durable. Mr. Enrol Grey continues:
"These dhas are made in four varieties:
(1) The streaked (or dorica mela as it is called in Assam),
having four lines running longitudinally down the blade.
(2) The spotted dha, having numerous black spots cover-
ing both sides of the blade, as if indented by being
hit by some pointed instrument, but really natural.
(3) The white dha, with a perfectly clear blade, without
spot or line.
(4) The black dha, a dirty, rough-looking blade, giving the
idea that the process of manufacture is not complete.
These weapons are about eighteen inches long in the blade, and are broader at the point than at the handle. They are ground to have an edge in the form of that of the chisel. With the handle a couple of such dhas weigh a little over two pounds.
The streaked dha is invariably worn by the nobility and gentry of the Hkamti country."
-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I, 1900 ...
Interesting reading. I note that Mr Grey uses specific language when he says that the manufacture of these swords is confined to the Tarengs, who do not appear to be true Kachins.
Just who is a "true Kachin" seems to have been an issue, and the Hanson quote I provided earlier in this thread seems to address the same issue by referring to the Hkahku as "true Kachin." I think what Mr Grey is describing is the same or another group of Kachin who had been influenced by, and adopted, some of the Shan customs and skills. If they had been a non-Kachin ethnic group he probably would have given the name of that group (Shan, Burman, Chin, etc.), but rather he refers to them as not true Kachin (implying to me that they may once have been Kachin but are no longer).