Dha-lwe (Burma)

Dha-lwe from Burma, late 19th C. with brass and (shagreen) ray skin hilt.

Code: SA5

Hilt detail, Burma Dha-lwe, late 19th C.  Shagreen ray skin grip with brass pommel and bolster

This dha-lwe, late 19th C., is not only highly functional, the result of fine metallurgy, but beautiful as well.  The shagreen (rayskin) grip, attached by double row of brass tacks or staple with brass pommel cap and bolster, is fine to look at and easy to hold.  

This dha is typical of the Bama (Burman) ethnic group located in the central and southern areas of Burma (Myanmar). The Bama are one of the two largest ethnic groups in Burma who are known for excellent sword-making. The other are the Shan, residing in the north of Burma as well as northern Thailand, the southern Yunnan province of China, and northern Laou. The rayskin grip appears unique to Burma. The fullers are seldom found on dha from other regions nearby in south east continental Asia.

The blade of this dha is 24 inches in length, with twin fullers bounding spiral engraving. The blade flares wider towards the tip, a sword-maker’s method of moving the point of maximum force (“area of percussion”) towards the preferred striking area.  Additionally, since the center of gravity (and the center of percussion) is closer to the tip and, being broader, the sword is less likely to bend or break

This also serves to balance the weapon, which feels virtually weightless in the hand.  Like a katana, if you hold this sword and close your eyes, you can fairly accurately estimate where the tip is by feel alone.  

This sword is virtually identical to sword #225 in the Continental South East Asia Swords List.

Burma warriors with their dha-lwe

Burma warriors with their dha-lwe

Burmese Dha maker (courtesy of “ The Burmese Dha”).

Burmese Dha maker (courtesy of “ The Burmese Dha”).