Enquiry about object: 5406

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    Three Burmese Silver & Ivory Betel Knives

    Shan People, Eastern Burma
    19th and early 20th centuries

    lengths: 11.8cm, 17.2cm and 23.3cm



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    Each of these short knives (dha hmyaung) is from the Shan people of eastern Burma. It is likely that each was used to slice betel nuts for use in the betel quid, a mild social narcotic that was chewed.

    Each has an ivory or bone hilt. The scabbards of the two larger examples are of wood that is encased in hammered silver and decorated with bands of applied filigree wire.

    The scabbard of the smallest example is of bone with bands of decorated silver.

    Each has a single edged steel blade. The blade of the smallest is incised with stylised Buddhistic motifs.

    These short knives are in excellent condition and with superb patina.


    Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.

    Lewis, P. & E., Peoples of the Golden Triangle: Six Tribes in Thailand, Thames & Hudson, 1984.

    Lowry, J., Burmese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1974.

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