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Language: Mixed
Source: Period accounts

Description

Various 19th-century accounts speak of dha made by the Chinese Shan in the Hùsā (户撒) valley (also pronounced Hotha in old sources) in Yunnan.

“During the latter part of our stay, one of the police escort, during a chaffing argument with a Kakhyen visitor, was without warning felled by a blow of the dah. 

The savage decamped to the jungle, leaving the sepoy bleeding from a gash on his head, and another on the arm, with which he had warded off the blow and so saved his skull from being split. These dahs are made by the Shans of the Hotha valley, who are the itinerant smiths of the country.” 1

-John Andersen, 1876

A known example

John Andersen was a zoologist and adventurer who traveled extensively through the area. In 1871 he presented two dha to the British Museum that were made by the Shan of Husa.

I was able to examine one of them up close when I visited the British Museum depot. The hilt and scabbard are very simple but the blade is surprisingly good, tight forging and very finely polished.

Husa dha

 

Measurements

Overall length: 75 cm
Blade length: 50 cm
Blade thickness: Base 9 mm, middle 4.5, tip 3 mm

 

Anderson tag


"Pres. by Dr Andersen.
Director of the Indian
Museum, Calcutta
Oct. 30, 1871"

 

The other piece is in the British Museum under accession number As.7541.a & b. It has the label text:

"Shan dah obtained at Hosha, Yunnan by Dr Anderson 1868"

 

He also collected a Kachin dha at Ponsee in Kachin state, accession number As.7540.a and its open sheath As.7540.b. Ponsee was a small village in the hills, about 3000 feet above sea level and with a population of about 200.2

 

John Anderson

John Andersen FRSE FRS FRGS FZS FLS FRPSE FSA
(4 October 1833 – 15 August 1900)

Notes
1. John Andersen; Mandalay to Momien: A narrative of the two expeditions to western China of 1868 and 1875, under Colonel Edward B. Sladen and Colonel Horace Browne. Macmillan, London, 1876. Page 134.
2. Douglas Macneill; Report and gazetteer of Burma, native and British. Simla: Government Central Branch Press. 1883 Page 427.

 

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