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Language: Possibly Pali.
Source: Bell, 1907.

Description

Mainsa dha are a type of dha widely used in Burma, that by 1907 were largely imported from China.

Writing in 1907, E.N. Bell mentioned:

"In the Kachin Hills there is a distinct blacksmith caste, the art being hereditary and handed down from father to son: and there are strict rules against endogamy: a member of the Lepais family from the north of unadministered territory cannot marry a Lepais woman from Katha or the Ruby Mines. She must be of a different family, e.g., a Lepais may marry a Maran from the next village. Cooking-stands, das and spears alone are manufactured; everything else is imported from China or Myitkyina; and even the das known locally as Mainsa das are largely imported from China." 1

 

Production of dha in China was mainly done by the Shan people of the Husa Valley in Yunnan. They traded them, and some even worked as itinerant smiths traveling to where production was needed.2

 

Plain dha with baldric

A plain dha with baldric. The workmanship on the blade leads me to think it is of Shan manufacture. Could this be a mainsa dha? I think it is.
Mandarin Mansion inventory 2023.

 

Notes
1. E.N. Bell; A Monograph on Iron and Steel Work in Burma. Rangoon, Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1907. Page 9.
2. 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.

 

Etymology

The word mainsa doesn't resemble any word in Burmese or Shan languages, and probably comes from the Pali language, the sacred language of Theravāda Buddhism, the main religion of Burma.

A Pali dictionary points out its meaning as "flesh". The term mainsa dha can then perhaps be read as "flesh [cutting] dha".1

 

Notes
1. Robert Caesar Childers; A Dictionary of the Pali Language. London, Trübner & Co. 1875. Page 234. The book quotes Waskaduwe Subhuti; Abhidhanappadipika; or Dictionary of the Pali Language. Colombo, 1865. Page 157.

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