Dpa'dam overall
This item has been sold.
Overall length

Sheathed 94 cm

Sword 93.7

(The fit is impressive!)

Blade length

80.2 cm

Blade thickness

Base 6 mm

Middle 5.5 mm

5 cm from tip 4 mm

Blade width

Base 33.5 mm

Middle 32 mm

5 cm from tip 30.5 mm

Weight

Sheathed 1761 grams

Sword 954 grams

Point of balance

27 cm from guard

Materials

Iron, steel, silver, brass, wood, leather, red coral (Corallium rubrum, non-CITES)

Origin

Tibet

Dating

18th-19th century

Provenance

European antique art market

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Description

A large Tibetan sword, known in the local language as dpa'dam. It has the typical straight, single-edged blade with an oblique tip. It differs from the norm with an asymmetrical edge bevel that is wider on one side than the other. The facets are also more sharply defined, especially at the tip.

Edge assymmetry on dpadam

This feature goes back to very early Chinese swords of the Tang dynasty, some of which are preserved in the Shōsōin Repository in Nara, Japan.

Tang dynasty sword in the Shosoin

One of the 8th-century Chinese swords preserved in the Shōsō-in (正倉院) in Japan.
Their provenance goes to before 760 A.D. when they were incorporated in the treasure house.
They formed the basis of the shape that would become the iconic Japanese katana.
From: Shōsōin no token or "Sword Blades in the Shōsō-in". Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 1974.

 

The forging pattern shows the typical Himalayan hairpin forging, which is commonly found on swords from the region. This particular sword shows two hairpin bends, one at the tip and one at the base, a rarer feature seen mostly on arms from Eastern Tibet.

I kept the blade in its original, as-found condition.

 

Hilt

Brass hilt with classic trefoil pommel with coral bead, leather covered grip of square cross-section, and brass guard and ferrule. All mounts have silver decorative plating worked in repousse.

The hilt also retains its original wrist lanyard, something rarely seen on these.

Wrist lanyard

 

Scabbard

The scabbard consists of a U frame that holds two wooden plates, each covered with leather. The front plate is carved with a raised rib in the center. The suspension system consists of two silver suspension bands holding the iron suspension mounts at the top of the scabbard. Each band has a decorative panel with coral bead in its center. The backs are engraved with stylized wave designs. The suspension mounts are nicely detailed with engraving and file work.

It still retains its original suspension system with leather straps and brass belt hook, a rarity.

 

Suspension system

 

The front of the scabbard is decorated with two silver plated worked in repousse. The scabbard end plate is original, but the mouthpiece and plate on that side are recent. The work is very well done, almost indistinguishable from the original plate.

Front plate

 

End plate

 

Conclusion

A very good Tibetan dpa'dam that still retains its original suspension system and wrist lanyard. While the overall aesthetic is relatively humble, the devil is in the details. All parts are very well executed and the fit and finish are superb for this genre. 

The piece is in near excellent condition with only minor wear and tear. See photos.

 

Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook
Fine Tibetan dpa'dam with wrist lanyard and belt hook

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