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Old 17th May 2021, 08:27 AM   #1
Iain
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Default A European bladed dha

This one is a bit of a mystery and has quite a few unusual features. The blade is a Samuel Harvey from a mid 18th century hanger. Of course European blades do occasionally turn up in dha but the hilting is also quite intriguing on this one. It may well be from a region like Assam. It is certainly an old one. It actually handles very well, light, fast and the hilt is very nicely executed.
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Old 17th May 2021, 12:44 PM   #2
David R
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I have a real liking for these hybrid pieces, whichever way round they are put together.
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Old 17th May 2021, 02:33 PM   #3
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I have a real liking for these hybrid pieces, whichever way round they are put together.
Thanks David, I also enjoy these, southeast Asia in the 18th century was a fascinating place and its not hard to imagine how a hanger came to be placed in native mounts between the operations of trading companies and their militaries as well as the penchant for Europeans to find places in local courts and militaries. At the end of the day good steel is good steel and always appreciated.
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Old 20th May 2021, 12:16 PM   #4
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Hello,

really nice exemple ! The blade looks to carry a "Passau Wolf" marking, isn't it ?

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Old 20th May 2021, 12:40 PM   #5
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The blade looks to carry a "Passau Wolf" marking, isn't it ?
Hi,
This is the so called running fox mark usually associated with Samuel Harvey a Birmingham manufacturer.
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Old 20th May 2021, 12:57 PM   #6
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Hi Iain,

I've been holding back in replying on this one until I could do some research to look for a similar example. Sadly, I have not found one.

This is a very unusual sword. The blade, as you noted, appears to be European in origin and is quite pitted from age and use. However, the hilt has me more intrigued. The grip tapers down approaching the pommel, and overall the central wooden section seems to have been turned on a lathe. The flanking ferrules appear to be silver, with some minimal twisted wire filigree ornamentation and a few engraved floral designs.

I have seen two similarly hilted swords, with grips that tapered like the subject of this post, but they had only a single (brass) ferrule adjacent to the blade. Those examples had straight blades with square tips. I have been unable to identify where they were from, but it has been suggested by others that they may be from the part of Yunnan adjacent to Jingpho (Kachin) areas in Burma. Another possibility may be NE India, including Assam.

While the subject of this thread has some similarities to mainland SE Asian dha, I don't think it is a dha as generally defined in those countries. Although the sword lacks a guard, the hilt and its decorations seem atypical for Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

Very interesting sword.
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Old 20th May 2021, 02:37 PM   #7
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Hi Iain,

I've been holding back in replying on this one until I could do some research to look for a similar example. Sadly, I have not found one.

This is a very unusual sword. The blade, as you noted, appears to be European in origin and is quite pitted from age and use. However, the hilt has me more intrigued. The grip tapers down approaching the pommel, and overall the central wooden section seems to have been turned on a lathe. The flanking ferrules appear to be silver, with some minimal twisted wire filigree ornamentation and a few engraved floral designs.

I have seen two similarly hilted swords, with grips that tapered like the subject of this post, but they had only a single (brass) ferrule adjacent to the blade. Those examples had straight blades with square tips. I have been unable to identify where they were from, but it has been suggested by others that they may be from the part of Yunnan adjacent to Jingpho (Kachin) areas in Burma. Another possibility may be NE India, including Assam.

While the subject of this thread has some similarities to mainland SE Asian dha, I don't think it is a dha as generally defined in those countries. Although the sword lacks a guard, the hilt and its decorations seem atypical for Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

Very interesting sword.
Hi Ian,

I thought you might find this one intriguing, I very much agree with your comments, it is both strangely a dha and at the same time quite atypical of any commonly seen dha types. The decorative elements remind me in some ways of work more typically seen on Tibetan items than anything common in Burma, while the tapering of the grip is usual unusual for Burma or Yunnan. The blade is rather thin at the spine compared to a standard dha (of course owing to its origin) but the entire sword is in fact quite a harmonious creation with a wonderfully light feel in the hand.

I would be curious to see the two examples you have mentioned, tapering handles are not unknown, but I cannot recall seeing an example with both a taper to the pommel and then the pommel swelling in this manner. The workmanship is quite good throughout. The blade is certainly no mystery and a readily identifiable pattern.

As with many of these swords it will likely prove quite difficult to pinpoint a geographical area precisely.
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Old 20th May 2021, 04:03 PM   #8
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This is a completely fascinating example!!!! and while the British hanger blade is sort of right in areas I have been researching some time, the analysis of these mounts is deeply intriguing. While I know little of these SE Asian dha's, I have always been interested in the key nuances used to identify them.

The British were of course strongly present throughout India, and it does seem they had presence in some of the SE Asian countries, but there I cannot speak further.

The mark on the blade is as Iain notes, what is known as the 'bushy tail fox', which has been attributed to Samuel Harvey of Birmingham, who worked c. 1750s. These 'foxes' have been the subject of considerable debate and investigation as to their relationship to the 'running wolf' of Passau and the Shotley Bridge sword firm.

The blade was most probably from an infantry hanger of British forces in the 18th century, these blades so marked were present in British swords up to the 1770s-80s. What is surprising is that they are hardly ever seen in the mounts of ethnographic weapons.

On the other hand, the hanger blades of the VOC, Dutch East India Co. seem to be profoundly present on many varied forms, most prevalent the Ceylonese kastane.
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Old 20th May 2021, 04:21 PM   #9
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This is a completely fascinating example!!!! and while the British hanger blade is sort of right in areas I have been researching some time, the analysis of these mounts is deeply intriguing. While I know little of these SE Asian dha's, I have always been interested in the key nuances used to identify them.

The British were of course strongly present throughout India, and it does seem they had presence in some of the SE Asian countries, but there I cannot speak further.

The mark on the blade is as Iain notes, what is known as the 'bushy tail fox', which has been attributed to Samuel Harvey of Birmingham, who worked c. 1750s. These 'foxes' have been the subject of considerable debate and investigation as to their relationship to the 'running wolf' of Passau and the Shotley Bridge sword firm.

The blade was most probably from an infantry hanger of British forces in the 18th century, these blades so marked were present in British swords up to the 1770s-80s. What is surprising is that they are hardly ever seen in the mounts of ethnographic weapons.

On the other hand, the hanger blades of the VOC, Dutch East India Co. seem to be profoundly present on many varied forms, most prevalent the Ceylonese kastane.
Thanks for joining in Jim, I agree with you of course but perhaps I can add a little more detail around these hangers in British service... In the course of researching this sword and writing up a little article I did a bit of digging around their service (or curious in same ways a lack thereof!) as well as potential use in British India.

If I can indulge in a quote from said article rather than rewriting it:


The blade is that of a mid-18th century hanger, manufactured in Birmingham by Samuel Harvey. The blade is marked with a fox and the remains of an 'H' can be still seen inside; this is typical for these blades which combined the fox with S.H. in many cases. This form of hanger is perhaps best known from the 1751 pattern but was predated by a 1740 pattern and was generally in vogue throughout the 1740s-1760s. It was phased out of use before the Napoleonic wars. In earlier periods it was a general issue to privates but later was more typical among grenadiers and sergeants.

The next question of course becomes how this blade ended up in the environs where dha like swords are found, which immediately points to the regions of eastern India or Burma. Hangers of this type were part of the equipment of the European regiments of the East India Company as well as with regular British Army troops in the mid-18th century in India. Before the formation of regular European East India Company regiments like the Bengal European Regiment (later 101st Foot), there were also independent companies of Europeans within the service of the Company. All these elements give a foundation of hangers of this type and age having a presence not only in India but specifically in Bengal where the British Empire and Company territories were already in contact with the Burmese Konbaung dynasty, who would eventually expend directly in Assam and other abutting territories.


Cutting out some junks of dry history regarding Burma...


As with any blade that turns up in mounts that are not original and difficult to precisely date when it may have reached its current form but it seems reasonable to assume, given the age of the hanger and the period when it was in service, that at the latest it may have been converted into a dha during the first Anglo-Burmese war and more probably before that since this form of hanger would not have been a common sidearm for British troops, either in regular service or in the Company regiments, Indian sepoys carried tulwars rather than European style swords. Intriguingly, issued swords such as these hangers apparently were notorious for going missing in regimental use. C. ffoulkes and E. C. Hopkinson in THE SWORDS OF THE BRITISH ARMY (Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research) note inspection reports such as 1767 were inspections of 8 regiments found only 151 swords in total. A clear disregard for the regulations regarding equipment for the time. Since regiments purchased swords through ‘off-reckonings’ in essence the funds left over after food and board for men, this equipment was not centrally controlled in terms of issuance.

We have a situation then where a hanger of this type would have been found in use in British India at a time when swords were becoming outdated among a musket and bayonet driven mode of warfare. It is not hard to imagine a multitude of scenarios in which a hanger then goes missing and ends of traded on. Of course it could equality have been found in the hands of the numerous traders, adventurers and mercenaries engaged in commerce in India and Burma as well.


Of course that's all simply an exercise in a bit of history and deductive reasoning. But enjoyable none the less.
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Old 20th May 2021, 07:42 PM   #10
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Iain, beautifully written and thoroughly researched detail! Thank you for sharing that. These kinds of items are fascinating for the history they hold, and when someone takes the time and effort to compile and preserve it , we are grateful as it becomes iconic for future generations.
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Old 20th May 2021, 09:55 PM   #11
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Iain, beautifully written and thoroughly researched detail! Thank you for sharing that. These kinds of items are fascinating for the history they hold, and when someone takes the time and effort to compile and preserve it , we are grateful as it becomes iconic for future generations.
As usual you are far too kind Jim, just a little digging through sources that are fairly easy to access in these days of most old books and journals being online and searchable.

Just to add a little more colour to this thread here's an image 18th century infantryman of the 1st Bengal European Regiment (circa 1756). This being of course an East India raised regiment before transfer to the British army. Exactly the sort of chap who was totting around one of these hangers not that far from the Burmese border...
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Old 21st May 2021, 11:16 AM   #12
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Hi,
Here is a hanger of mine, the so called 1742 Pattern, minus the the boat shell guard which I believe was a contemporary alteration. As you can see it has the 'running fox' mark without the H. Other manufacturers are believed to have used the 'running fox' symbol as well as Harvey.
Regards,
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Old 21st May 2021, 03:00 PM   #13
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Hi,
Here is a hanger of mine, the so called 1742 Pattern, minus the the boat shell guard which I believe was a contemporary alteration. As you can see it has the 'running fox' mark without the H. Other manufacturers are believed to have used the 'running fox' symbol as well as Harvey.
Regards,
Norman.
A lovely example Norman, as you note not all of these were from Harvey and among these hanger patterns I've noticed various subtle degrees of curvature, length, fullering etc. Mine seems to be rather straight in profile for example.
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