Heavy silver mounted Bhutanese dagger | Mandarin Mansion

Heavy silver mounted Bhutanese dagger

General introduction
The dozum is a short dagger with a blade that gradually narrows to an acute point. It is still worn as part of a Bhutanese man's attire up to today, usually in the form of a simple utility knife with a soft wooden sheath, but some of them were works of art such as this one. The are customarily worn horizontally in front of the belly, rolled into the traditional garb, unseen, or separately carried on the left side, rolled in fabric with the pommel exposed.

Due to several dialects and transliteration systems, dozum are alternatively referred to as: dossum, doo zum, dro zom or dudzom.

This example

Overall length of dagger: 43.5 cm / 17.1 inch
Blade length: 33.2 cm / 13 inch
Thickness: forte 7 mm, middle 5 mm, near tip 4 mm
Blade width: widest part 35.2 mm
Weight of dagger: 431 grams
Weight with scabbard: 758 grams

In this article I present an exceptional Bhutanese dagger or dozum. Blade of very rare form: sharp, double edged with triple grooves, a narrow one over the center of the blade flanked by two wider ones. The handle of fluted octagonal cross-section, tightly wrapped with braided silver wire in the traditional Bhutanese manner. Heavy silver pommel with on the front a panel, deeply pierced and chiseled with buddhist imagery of a parasol and two fish in a background of foliage. The parasol (Sanskrit: chatraratna represents protection from harmful forces: All take refuge in the dharma under the auspiciousness of the parasol. The two fish (Sanskrit: gaurmatsya symbolise the benefits of a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of suffering which is our world. The back of the pommel is chiseled with interlocking Y shapes in hectagons resembling ancient armor. Pommel elements are framed within borders engraved with stylized wave patterns.

The scabbard is further fitted in silver fittings of exceptional heavy silver. All fittings are deeply chased and chiseled with designs of Bhutanese thunder dragons, called druk. These dragons are the national symbol of Bhutan since the 12th century, and one proudly features on today's flag. It was originally the symbol of the Drukpa lineage, the "Red Hat Sect" of Tibetan Bhuddism that spread south to Bhutan and became its state religion. The dragons are depicted above water, among foliage. An interesting detail is that where dragons depicted in Chinese art typically chase a "pearl of wisdom", the Bhutanese druk hold a pearl in each claw: Four pearls per dragon.

In-between the silver scabbard mounts is a piece of black leather. The structure of the leather identifies it as that of an onager, a rare wild donkey that was known to aggressively attack humans. Onagers are among the fastest of mammals, running up to speeds of 70 km/h / 43mph. Because of their danger and elusiveness they were a prized hunting trophy. Onagers live in deserts, grasslands and savannahs and never come as far south as Bhutan. Onager leather is seen primarily on Tibetan swords, which makes it all the more interesting to see it on this piece.

A fine Bhutanese dagger with a rare heavy double edged blade with triple fullers. Mounted in heavy silver mounts executed with three dimensional designs of the Bhutanese national dragon. A very rare and impressive piece.


Interested / questions?
Contact peter@mandarinmansion.com

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