Language: Burmese
Source: Period accounts

Description

Lin gin (လင်းကင်း); Machete-like sword with a crescent-shaped tip.  In period sources, it is usually referred to as: "linkin dha".

It is a fairly short, heavy weapon that widens considerably from base to tip, and which has a flat point. It was said to be 1.5 inch (38mm) wide at the hilt, flaring out to 2.5 inch (63.5mm) towards the truncated tip. Linkin dha were worn in half wooden scabbards that carry the blade with one side exposed. They were often adorned with teeth or parts of the jaw of tigers or leopards.

 

Linkin dhaA linkin dha in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Accession number: 36.25.1630a, b
Provenance: Bequest of George Cameron Stone, 1935.

 

Origin

The linkin dha is primarily associated with the Jingpo, one of the main minorities in the Kachin State, in Northern Burma. It is therefore often called Kachin dha. It was worn by many peoples of the area, including the Naga of Assam and Nagaland.

Period sources state the Jingpo generally did not produce their own swords and probably obtained them by trade. Period traveler Errol Grey speaks of a people he calls the Tureng, who mainly produce these weapons and trade them with the Jingpo, Khamti, and others under the name "Khamti dha".

See period mentions below.

 

Etymology

It consists of the words lin (ကင်း) meaning bright, clear, unobstructed or dawn (of day), explain. And kin (ကင်း) which has a whole range of meanings, including; general term for centipede and scorpion, begin to fruit, patrol, guard, picket. Outpost. It is possibly simply a Burmese attempt to capture a different language.

 

Mentions of the linkin dha

The dha is that known as the linkin dha, a sword which is broader at the tip than at the hilt. It is carried in a sheath made of wood and cane and is slung round the body by a circular cane belt, under the left arm, with the handle to the front. The head and arm are passed through the cane belt, which rests on the right shoulder. 

The belt is usually ornamented with the teeth of tigers or leopards. The handle of the dha is also very frequently ornamented with inlaid work. The dhas are used for all purposes - from lopping heads off to cutting firewood. 

These swords are not made in the country, but are brought down for sale or barter from the north, probably from the Kahku country. 1

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part II Volume III, 1901

 

Tiger and leopard claws are a chief ornament on the linkin dhaThe animals are usually killed by traps or poison. It is rare for a man to have killed one of them himself. The Chins, however, occasionally spear or shoot wild boars. 2

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part II Volume I, 1901

 

The dha with the Chingpaw, as with the Burman and the Shan, is a national weapon. At the hilt the blade is an inch and a half in width, widening to about two and a half inches at the truncated tip. The back is slightly curved. It is half sheathed in wood and slung over the right shoulder by a rattan ring. In the case of well-to-do people or warriors, this rattan sling is sometimes adorned with cloth and embroidery, or with the claws or teeth of wild animals. It hangs with the hilt in front ready to the hand. This is the proper shape of the Linkin or Chingpaw dha.

Among the Kachins who have pushed farthest south there are other types, taken from their Shan or other neighbours, but the chararteristic half-sheath is almost always retained.

East of Bhamo Mr. George says the Kachins use a long straight sword, about two and a half feet long, which they call ntugaht.

These, with the more orthodox Linkin are said to be manufactured mostly by the Tareng, the Nga-chang, and possibly also the Khunnongs. Like the wild Wa the average Chingpaw cannot or does not make his own dha.3

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I, 1901

On manufacturing the dha

"Colonel Macgregor says that the Khunnongs used to live nearer to the Chinese towards the east and close to the Lamas (whom the Hkamti people call the Hpangs) on the north, but they were so much oppressed by both, especially by the Lamas, that they placed themselves under the protection of the Tai of Hkamti Long. They are a hard-working people and, like the Tarengs, have a great reputation as blacksmiths. Their dhas are noted; they are shorter and thicker in the blade than those used by the Kachins, Mr. Errol Grey says:

"I saw a blacksmith at work this evening forging these blades. His anvil 
was a large flat stone and his hammer a round one with a slightly flat head. 
A splint of bamboo about thirty-six inches in length was bent into the form 
of a pair of tongs, and the round stone was placed inside the loop so formed 
and the free ends of the tongs, being lashed well together served both to
keep the stone in its place and also as a handle to the hammer thus made. 
This hammer weighed about twenty pounds, and was used in the first pro- 
cess of forging only, the finishing touches to be given by a small light iron
hammer with a long bead. I did not see that any steel was used, but was 
told that the small pieces of iron that flew off on all sides from the red-hot 
blade in the process of forging were collected and added to the iron, serving 
the purposes of steel."
4

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I, 1900

 

"Mr. Errol Grey speaks of meeting Turengs on his way to the country of the Khumongs, above latitude 27° 15' and in about longitude 97° 30'. The Turengs, he says, are the great blacksmiths of that neighbourhood, just as the Ngachang are for the country round Hotha and Latha. They make all the dhas and daggers worn by the Singpho and the Hkamti Shans, and these under the name of Hkampti dhas form one of the chief articles of trade between the Hkamti valley and Assam.

The iron is found in the hills forming the boundary between the Turengs and the Khumongs.

"It is of "excellent quality and the knives are very durable."

The dhas are made in tour varieties, the streaked, the indented, the white, 

'and the black dhas" 5

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I, 1900

 

Four types of dha

Besides this the only other industry seems to be the manufacture of dhas, and that is confined to the Tarengs, who do not appear to be true Kachins. Mr. Errol Grey, who calls them the best blacksmiths of the Khakhu country, says that they make all the dhas worn by every Kachin and Hkamti Shan adult north of the confluence.

These dhas under the name of Hkamli dhas form one of the chief articles of trade between the Hkamti valley and Assam. The iron is found in the hills forming the boundary between the Tarengs and Khunnongs. It is of excellent quality and the knives are very durable. Mr. Enrol Grey continues:

"These dhas are made in four varieties:

(i) The streaked (or dorica mela as it is called in Assam), 
having four lines running longitudinally down the blade. 

(a) The spotted dha, having numerous black spots cover- 
ing both sides of the blade, as if indented by being 
hit by some pointed instrument, but really natural.

(3) The white dha, with a perfectly clear blade, without 
spot or line.

(4) The black dha, a dirty, rough-looking blade, giving the 
idea that the process of manufacture is not complete. 

These weapons are about eighteen inches long in the blade, and are broader at the point than at the handle. They are ground to have an edge in the form of that of the chisel. With the handle a couple of such dhas weigh a little over two pounds.

The streaked dha is invariably worn by the nobility and gentry of the Hkamti country." 6

-Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I, 1900

 

On etiquette

"The constant state of inter-tribal warfare which existed previous to their subjugation by the British, their common law of reprisal and revenge, their practice of raiding one another, of kidnapping members of distant tribes and selling them into slavery, these and other such practices have tended to make the Kachin extremely suspicious of strangers.

This is so much the case that a stranger may not pass a man on his sword or left-hand side with out giving offence."

It is further the cause of that reserve in intercourse with strangers which has been mistaken by some for surliness of disposition or ignorance. Any inquiry made by a stranger as a rule calls forth a vague reply or "kani gaw" (who can say? who knows?) But when once his suspicion and reserve is removed the Kachin will be found to be a frank, good-natured fellow. He is as hospitable as circumstances will permit." 7

 

Notes
1. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part II Volume III. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1901. Page 368.
2. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part II Volume I. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1901. Page 249.
3. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1900. Page 431.
4. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1900. Page 393.
5. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1900. Page 393.
6. Sir James George Scott, assisted by John Percy Hardiman; Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I Volume I. Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1900. Page 438.
7. Henry Felix Hertz; A practical handbook of the Kachin or Chingpaw language. Rangoon, Printed by the Superintendent, Government Printing, Burma. 1902. Page 128.

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