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Old 11th July 2015, 05:29 PM   #1
Ian
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Question Brass hilted dha/daab for ID

This is a recent addition to my collection and has me a little stumped as to origin.

It has a brass hilt of elliptical cross section and a small guard. The hilt reminds me somewhat of the Japanese-influenced Thai daab from the Rattanikosin period in the mid-19th C. There are a number of high end daab in the National Museum in Bangkok that show this style of hilt in gold (some examples are shown in this link http://www.vikingsword.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002442.html). However, I'm not entirely happy with that designation.

The sword definitely has some age and might well be 150 years old. I'm not inclined to damage the patina on the blade or hilt at this time just to see what's underneath.

Thoughts about where this one may be from would be welcomed. I have my suspicions, and have talked with fellow forumite Nathan off line and he has some thoughts too. But I would like to hear from other dhafia as to where they think this one may be from.

Ian.
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Last edited by Ian : 11th July 2015 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 11th July 2015, 09:28 PM   #2
CharlesS
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Ian,

This is one of the more interesting ones I've seen in a long time. I'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say.

Is Khmer, or Cambodian, out of the discussion??
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Old 11th July 2015, 09:59 PM   #3
Ian
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Charles,

I think all possibilities should be under consideration.

Ian.
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Old 12th July 2015, 12:04 AM   #4
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Cast bronze - could it be Khmer? Little different form for Khmer, but may older pieces that I have seen from there seem to be cast bronze.

Great casting work!
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Old 14th July 2015, 08:51 PM   #5
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I have received a very confident identification of this sword in an email from an international sword dealer. The individual has asked not to be identified or quoted directly on this forum, so I will respect his wishes and summarize briefly what he has to say.

The sword is from the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Kingdom of a Thousand Elephants Under the White Parasol) which lasted from 13541707 C.E. This was the founding dynasty of what is today Laos.

The sword dates from at least the early 18th C. and is probably more than 300 years old.

The hilt is made of samrit bronze (or auspicious alloy) which is an alloy that includes copper and tin, plus small amounts of silver, gold and mercury, and the "secret ingredient" of burnt ashes of the bua bok creeper that was used to amalgamate the mixture. This samrit alloy does not turn dark green-brown with age (as you can see from the pictures here)--if cleaned now it would resemble gold (which was the whole idea in producing this alloy).

The style of hilt on the sword above and its samrit bronze construction predate the more familiar silver and bronze repoussed hilts of other Lan Chang daab (and swords in the Lan Chang style are still being made today). Consequently, this sword dates very closely to the time period of the dynasty and might be 17th C. or earlier--it is a very old sword according to this dealer who seems to know what he is talking about.

One final point. The hilt at some time has been remounted upside down. It should continue in a single graceful curve in harmony with the curve of the blade. The remounting seems to have occurred many years ago because there is no evidence of the hilt having been disturbed recently.

Take these comments for what you will. I don't like passing on information that cannot be verified readily and based on one person's opinion. On the other hand, I have no reason to question the accuracy of these comments.

If what he says is true, I really lucked out and found a sleeping beauty at an incredibly good price. What we all hope to find for our collections, right!

Ian.
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Old 14th July 2015, 10:00 PM   #6
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I have no knowledge of this weapon but as an ex. foundryman , {many many moons ago.} as well as a collector of ethnographic weapons, I can say the hilt casting is fantastic quality & in my experience of other weapons that does often imply an early date.

spiral
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Old 18th July 2015, 03:14 AM   #7
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Lovely sword Ian. Congratulations. Thanks for sharing. I would go for more southern Laos...Vietnamese borders...you can see the sino vietnamese influence on the blade shape. Unique handle design, oval cross section like a Chinese/ japanese sword...the samarit handle and wire overlay we have seen before but not in this pattern which imitates more of the flat braided handle wraps of japanese and chinese swords...very neat to see something in a variation not seen before! Awesome! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th July 2015, 04:47 AM   #8
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Thank you Nathan.

I think we can also see the Chinese influence in the small disk guard, many of which were apparently removed by Lao and Thai owners who found them cumbersome (according to my international source).

Southern Laos would fit with the information that I have received.

Regards,

Ian.
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Old 18th July 2015, 04:58 AM   #9
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Far be it from me to argue with the opinions of Gurus, but just as a comment:

Down-turned handles are seen on nomadic sabers dating back to the 6-12 centuries and belonging to Enisei Kyrgyz ( see book by Khudyakov). Such a configuration amplified the cutting abilities of the saber and at the same time allowed at least some degree of stabbing.

This was preserved over centuries and found its way into Georgian palashes, the famous saber of Charles the Great, some Chinese sabers, Nathan Starr's sabers of 1812-1813 and even the very last model of the British cavalry sword of the 1908 pattern.


Perhaps, the handle was never remounted? Just a possibility.

Last edited by ariel : 18th July 2015 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 18th July 2015, 05:08 AM   #10
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Point taken ariel. Perhaps it was made this way, although it would be very unusual.

Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Far be it for me to argue with the opinions of Gurus, but just as a comment:

Down-turned handles are seen on nomadic sabers dating back to the 6-12 centuries and belonging to Enisei Kyrgyz ( see book by Khudyakov). Such a configuration amplified the cutting abilities of the saber and at the same time allowed at least some degree of stabbing.

This was preserved over centuries and found its way into Georgian palashes, the famous saber of Charles the Great, some Chinese sabers, Nathan Starr's sabers of 1812-1813 and even the very last model of the British cavalry sword of the 1908 pattern.


Perhaps, the handle was never remounted? Just a possibility.
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Old 18th July 2015, 08:49 AM   #11
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This is quite interesting.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...0bronze&f=false


Nice looking sword and story. The metal seems to be a standard bronze except for magic dust ashes.. I do not know what the addition of mercury would do as it would vaporize.

Last edited by Tim Simmons : 18th July 2015 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 21st July 2015, 03:23 AM   #12
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Ian,

That's a real neat sword, congrats on finding a early untouched example.

I can't add much else that hasn't already been mentioned but I feel the sword can just as easily be far more to the Northern Laos when considering the age.

Here is an interesting link to bronze manufacture and history...specifically Rain Drums but totally relevant to the sword hilt...

http://www.lasieexotique.com/mag_fr..._frogdrums.html

Gavin

PS, I forgot to add, re Ariel's note about the sword hilt orientation; Personally I see the current orientation as being correct in this instance for the specific sword type and age.

Last edited by SwordsAntiqueWeapons : 21st July 2015 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 21st July 2015, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
This is quite interesting.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...0bronze&f=false


Nice looking sword and story. The metal seems to be a standard bronze except for magic dust ashes.. I do not know what the addition of mercury would do as it would vaporize.


An interesting point Tim. I have read the text in the link and wondered similar things. Melting points for the metals are vastly higher than that of Mercury but would it actually vaporize? Perhaps metallurgists here can offer some insight to the subject about how metals meld?

Gavin
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Old 21st July 2015, 01:39 PM   #14
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the mercury/tin/copper amalgam reduces the melting point of the amalgam. the mercury alloys with the other metals & does not evaporate. on hardening they form an intimately mixed and bound alloy.

think of your mouth. you probably have some 'silver' fillings. these are really a 'bronze' amalgam of tin/copper/silver and some other metals that increase the strength of the resultant alloy. the mercury is mixed with the metals to form a paste that is essentially the other metals dissolved in the mercury, which hardens as the mercury alloys itself with the other metals, becoming intimately and permanently part of them (and raising the meting point as the amalgam becomes an alloy). the mercury in your fillings is bound up & not free to poison you. it is of course subject to chemical attack that may leech out one or more components and eventually cause failure.

(a somewhat simplistic explanation to save space, it ignores the percentages of the components & their effect)
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Old 21st July 2015, 06:39 PM   #15
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I still cannot see how molten cast metal will still hold mercury. An amalgam is not an alloy.?
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Old 21st July 2015, 08:17 PM   #16
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an amalgam is definitely an alloy - of mercury and another metal or metals. the word 'amalgam literally means mercury alloy.

tin amalgams were used to coat lighthouse mirrors, indeed by heating the base metal coated with the hardened tin amalgam to the point where the mercury was evaporated. rather poisonous. why they would use a low mercury tin amalgam and copper to make bronze, but i am not a proper metallurgist, just an engineer. mercury does not particularly like amalgamating with copper, and gold/silver amalgams could be used to coat copper or bronze, then heated to drive off the mercury (maybe killing a few slaves) leaving behind a nice coated surface that could be polished.
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Old 1st August 2015, 08:54 PM   #17
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Outstanding. Congrats, Ian.
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