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Old 20th May 2021, 03:19 PM   #1
Iain
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Default Northern Thai or Laotian daab

Probably my favourite sword in the collection at the moment, this is a very well made specimen from what is now northern Thailand or Laos. The main features are a very wide spine with a distinctive V shape, round guard with four lobes, executed in bronze, hardwood handle and iron pommel with a bronze ferrule.

The difference between older swords like this and later examples is quite marked when you have handled a few. While the handle is fairly long it is very comfortable single handed held right behind the guard with a beautiful balance.

The blade is notably better than most and was still extremely sharp. Nothing fancy about this sword, but I have always preferred the old warriors over the more decorative examples.
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Old 20th May 2021, 08:41 PM   #2
DhaDha
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What a lovely sword! I think because they are so rare, the type is either overlooked or under-appreciated by Western collectors. The one that I've held has all the qualities you describe. It is missing the pommel fitting but other than that- and maybe because of that - the rest of the sword is in really good condition. The blade has what I think is the original polish and shows a really nice pattern over the entire length. A wonderful thing in hand.
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Old 20th May 2021, 09:48 PM   #3
Iain
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Originally Posted by DhaDha View Post
What a lovely sword! I think because they are so rare, the type is either overlooked or under-appreciated by Western collectors. The one that I've held has all the qualities you describe. It is missing the pommel fitting but other than that- and maybe because of that - the rest of the sword is in really good condition. The blade has what I think is the original polish and shows a really nice pattern over the entire length. A wonderful thing in hand.
A very nice example with interesting lamination showing. Yours is of a type I have seen described as one of the typical Laos types, this being the Vientiane type. The ones I have seen usually have a lotus bud pommel and the same long metal grip area yours obviously had. Does yours have a V profile spine? They often seem to.



Mine seems to belong to a slightly different style with less of a 'swelling' at the base of the guard to the ferrule and a simpler pommel concept, similar to some Thai examples with only a simple cap.

That being said, even with these little differences, there is obviously some family similarity between yours and mine, while mine might have the simplest of pommels I kind of like the simplicity. It is certainly a combination of aspects that seem to be common to the general Lanna/Lan Xang area, which makes sense given the long political, economic and military connections between these areas.


Needless to say congratulations on also having an extremely rare piece and one with a blade in beautiful condition!

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Old 21st May 2021, 01:27 PM   #4
Ian
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Iain and DhaDha,

Thank you for sharing pictures of your beautiful daab. Both excellent swords. Iain has mentioned the Lanna and Lan Xang periods in northern Thai and Lao history. Attached is a map showing the two kingdoms in the late 17th C.

The Lan Na kingdom existed from the 13th C into the 18th C and its borders ebbed and flowed in northern Thailand and into neighboring areas of Burma and Laos. Its principal city was Chiang Mai.

Lan Xang Hom Kao (Million Elephants and White Parasols) was a unified kingdom from the mid-13th C until the beginning of the 18th C. Its capital was initially Luang Praban and later Vientiane. In 1707 the kingdom was partitioned into several principalities.

Both kingdoms were strong during approximately the same time frame.

I think Iain's sword has features more in keeping with the heavily sinocized kingdom of Lan Na, most notably the lobulated disc guard, while the guard and hilt treatment of DhaDha's sword looks more typically Lao and from the late Lan Xang period. Both swords likely come from the late 17th or early 18th C. These are rare finds and congratulations to both of you!

I have a couple of similar swords that were posted on this site previously that resemble certain elements on these two fine examples. One is a very large Thai sword with a large brass disc guard (as seen on Iain's daab), and the other is a samrit-hilted daab from Lan Xang.

.
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Last edited by Ian; 21st May 2021 at 02:08 PM. Reason: Added links
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Old 21st May 2021, 03:11 PM   #5
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Iain and DhaDha,

Thank you for sharing pictures of your beautiful daab. Both excellent swords. Iain has mentioned the Lanna and Lan Xang periods in northern Thai and Lao history. Attached is a map showing the two kingdoms in the late 17th C.

The Lan Na kingdom existed from the 13th C into the 18th C and its borders ebbed and flowed in northern Thailand and into neighboring areas of Burma and Laos. Its principal city was Chiang Mai.

Lan Xang Hom Kao (Million Elephants and White Parasols) was a unified kingdom from the mid-13th C until the beginning of the 18th C. Its capital was initially Luang Praban and later Vientiane. In 1707 the kingdom was partitioned into several principalities.

Both kingdoms were strong during approximately the same time frame.
Thanks for joining in on this one Ian, I think it's worth nothing as well that the two kingdoms were linked at times politically via marriage and in the 16th century some degree of unity between the two. It is a fascinating area when you add in the power of Burma and Ayutthaya at the time.

Quote:
I think Iain's sword has features more in keeping with the heavily sinocized kingdom of Lan Na, most notably the lobulated disc guard, while the guard and hilt treatment of DhaDha's sword looks more typically Lao and from the late Lan Xang period. Both swords likely come from the late 17th or early 18th C. These are rare finds and congratulations to both of you!

I have a couple of similar swords that were posted on this site previously that resemble certain elements on these two fine examples. One is a very large Thai sword with a large brass disc guard (as seen on Iain's daab), and the other is a samrit-hilted daab from Lan Xang.

.
Again I can only agree Ian, the dating you mention is very much in line with my own thoughts, these are not easy to find, this one was mislabelled as a katana and with some very poor pictures to go along with it! Your examples paint an excellent picture of the variety within both areas. In particular the samrit hilt example is intriguing as the handle patterning is clearly designed to imitate the wire grip wrap often find on these old Lao examples.

After seeing the stunning patterning on DhaDha's blade I was inspired to have a deeper look at my own. Sadly mine was in fairly poor state when it arrived, but it was carefully restored to the current state and in the right light I was pleasantly pleased to see the same lamination clearly visible (enhanced here with a little photo tweaking and converting to black and white).
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