Please note:  the definitions here are by no means infallible or definative.  I am not a speaker of either Thai or Burmese, but I have made the best effort at spelling that I could, and indicated language of origin as I understand it.  Bear in mind that many words are transliterations, so some variation in spelling is possible; I have provided alternate spellings when they are known to me.  Please let me know if there are any errors or omissions in my definitions.

Angkor:  capital of the ancient Khmer empire, in present-day Cambodia (approx. 13, 20' N long., 1030, 40' E lat.), made up of several temple/palace complexes, among them Angkor Wat and the Bayon.

Assam:  mountainous area in N.W. India & N.E. Myanmar.

Ayutthaya:  early capital of the Kingdom of Siam, in central present-day Thailand (approx. 14, 30' N long., 110, 30' E lat.), replaced Sukhothai (1249 - 1438) as the dominant center of Thai power; flourished between 1350 and 1767 ("Ayutthaya Period").

"Bangkok Period":  see "Rattanakosin Period."

Bama:  tribe of present-day Burma (Myanmar), from which the old country name Burma derived (also "Mramma," "Burman").

Burmese calendar:  based on the Buddhist Chulasakarat era, commenced the year corresponding to 638 C.E.; add 638 to the Chulasakarat date to obtain the date C.E. (A.D.).

chape:  a covering (usually metal) at the tip of the scabbard.

chased:  metal-working technique where a design is hammered into thin metal, working from the outside; see also repousee.

Chulasakarat:  see Burmese calendar.

daab:  (Thai) sword, or foreign sword (also, darb).

daab chaleay:  (Thai) long-handled daab, with an approximate handle-to-blade ratio of 1:1.

daab dang (dheng):  (Thai) a daab used one-handed with a large, rectangular shield ("dang/dheng").

daab fa-rhang:  (Thai) foreign sword.

daab khen:  (Thai) a daab used one-handed with a buckler ("khen").

daab lo:  (Thai) daab used with a sheild.

daab song com:  (Thai) double-edged sword.

daab song muu (mueh):  (Thai) paired swords, worn crossed on the back.

daab tang:  (Thai) "standing daab," daab used while standing (as opposed to riding I suppose).

daab yippon:  (Thai) Japanese sword, katana.

daam:  (Thai) handle.

dah:  see dha.

dang:  a large wooden shield used in Thailand, often elaborately painted (also dheng, dhung); see also daab dang.

darb:  see daab.

dha:  (Thai/Shan/Lao/Burmese) blade, or knife (also, dah).

dha-lhut:  (Burmese) dha-shay worn without a scabbard (lit. "loose/free dha"); in the past, not all soldiers were well-equipt, and some were armed only with a dha without a scabbard.

dha-hmyaung:  (Burmese) dagger.

dha-lwe:  (Burmese) dha-shay worn in a scabbard, over the shoulder.

dha-ma:  (Burmese) chopper, cleaver.

dha-mauk:  (Burmese) paring knife, utility knife.

dha-shay:  (Burmese) long dha, curved sword

faak:  (Thai) scabbard.

forte:  portion of a blade closest to the handle.

grabang:  (Thai) guard, hilt.

Hkamti Shan:  Tai people of the Shan States of Burma (see Shan B'mah), who historically had connections to the powerful Shan State of Mogaung (Mong Kawng); also spelled Kanti, Kansi, Khmpti and Khamti.

hpaga:  (Jingpaw) a ritual wealth object, e.g., a sword, used for debt payment, often of no practical utility (non-functional replica).

hua:  (Thai) literally head, referring to the tip of the dha.

hua bua:  (Thai)  "chicken" tip, blunt spear-tip with a very slight extension at the tip (see figure below).

hua chuey:  (Thai) "cut head" tip, tip angled back from the edge of the blade to the spine, such as is seen in a Chinese daidao ("Boxer") ring-hilt sword (synonymous with hua tat).

hua darb:  (Thai) upswept tip (synonymous with hua lem).

hua lem:  (Thai) upswept tip (synonymous with hua darb).

hua lu guy:  (Thai) "sheeps foot" tip, sweeping up slightly from the edge but more radically down from the spine to give an asymmetrical point with a very slight extension (see figure below).  Issued by the Thai king to leadership.

hua tat (tad):  (Thai) see hua chuey.

hua tat (tad) khong:  (Thai) concave, squared tip.


Jingpaw:  one of the major sub-tribes of the Kachin peoples of Myanmar, an upland tribe of northern Myanmar (also spelled Singhpo, Singfo, Cingpaw, Theinbaw).

Kachin:  a loose term used to define a group of Tibeto-Burman peoples inhabiting the uplands of northern Burma (Myanmar), including the Duleng, Jingpaw, Lawngwaw, Rawang, Lisu, Zaiwa, and Lachik.

Karen:  a loose term used to define a group of Tibeto-Burman peoples inhabiting central Burma (Myanmar); Karenni, Red Karen, Kayan, White Karen.

Keng Tung:  northern Tai state.

khen:  small, round hide or metal shield or buckler used in Thailand, often elaborately painted; see also daab khen.

koftgari:  a decorating technique there the metal surface is first roughed by scoring, after which thin metal strips or wire is hammered into the roughened surface and detail incised as needed, then the decoration is annealed to the surface in an oven.

krabi-krabong:  literally "sword-stick," a form of the muai thai martial art employing the dha, either singly, in pairs, or with a stick in the off-hand.

krabi:  (Thai)  sword, usually refers to a sabre-like sword with a knuckle guard.

Lao:  a Tai (Dai) people related to the Shan of Burma and the Thai of Thailand, originally from southern China (Yunnan and Szechuan provinces), who settled in the upper Mekong River valley, in present-day Laos.

Lan Na:  northern Tai state (also Lanna).

Lan Zhang:  northern Tai state.

Lawa:  a Tibeto-Burman people, recognized by the Tai Shan as the original inhabitants of the Shan States in present-day Burma.

Lolo:  a Tibeto-Burman people.

maker's mark:  an incised or stamped symbol on the blade denoting the individual or smithy that made the weapon.  See examples here.

meed:  (Thai) knife (also mid).

meed chai thong:  (Thai) "flat-tipped" knife, with slightly undulating blade.

meed eneb/hneb/hnep:  (Thai) utility knife with a down-curved blade and pronounced "belly" toward tip.

meed maw:  (Thai) blessed or talismanic knife, carried as a protective talisman ("priest knife").

meed morh:  (Thai) "medic's" knife, similar to meed eneb, though smaller with less-pronounced belly; similar to meed maw.

meed pra dae:  (Thai) knife with straight spine, upswept tip, and a pistol grip; badik.

mid coune:  (Thai) razor knife (for shaving) (after de la Loubere).

mid tok:  (Thai) "a sort of Knife to cut the wood, with which they [the Siamese] fasten the foliage which serves them for straw."  de la Loubere, p. 167; a chopper.

Mramma:  see Burman.

muay thai:  Thai martial art, of which krabi-krabong is a form.

Nanzhao:  (also Nanchao, Nan Zhao, Nan Chao) kingdom in western/northwestern Yunnan Province, between the 8 and the 13 centuries, with varying degrees of independence from the Empire of China.  Finally annexed by the Mongols in the 13th century.  Though popular tradition holds that the Tai were the dominant group of Nanzhao, it appears that a Tibeto-Burman people were the governing elite.

n'dup:  (Jingpaw) blacksmith.

ngaw:  (Thai) polearm with a daab blade (similar in concept to a Japanese naginata); see also stok a zagaye.

nhtu:  (Jingpaw) sword

niello:  a method of decorating silver specifically, by deeply incising a design into the metal (either directly, or by removing the "background" of the design) and filling the recessed areas with a lead/sulfur oxide compound that leaves a thick layer of black oxidation.  The surface is then polished smooth.

Pagan:  ancient capital of the Burmese empire (approx. 21 N long, 95 E lat.); flourished between 1057 and 1287 C.E., when it was conquered by the Mongols.

priest knife:  see mid maw.

"Rattanakosin Period":  the modern era of Thai history; commenced with the founding of the Chakra Dynasty, and the establishment of Bangkok as the capital of the Thai kingdom, by Rama I.

repousee:  metal-working technique where a design is hammered into thin metal, working from the inside; see also chased.

shagreen:  tough, knobby skin of the stingray (Class Chondrichthyes, Order Rajiformes, Family Dasyatidae), used as a covering for sword & dagger grips (also sometimes sharkskin).

Shan:  Burmese name for the Tai (Dai) people of eastern Burma, Thailand and Yunnan, who call themselves "Tai;" originally from southern China; see also Tai.

Shan, B'mah/Bama:  (B'mah/Bama Shan) Burmese name for the Shan of the Shan States of Burma; originally from southern China; settled along the Salween river valley and the upland Shan Plateau; not a hill tribe, as the Shan inhabit the river valleys of the uplands; see also Hkampti Shan.

Shan, Tayok:  (Tayok Shan) Burmese name for the Chinese Shan of the Shan States in Yunnan, the most important of which lie south of the Tengyueh river and west of the Salween river.

San, Zin Me:  (Zin Me Shan) Burmese name for the Shan of Chiang Mai.

San, Lin Zin:  (Lin Zin Shan) Burmese name for the Lao, or Tai of Lan Xang.

Siam:  Thai kingdom, now called Thailand.

Sipsong Pan Na:  a northern Tai state (also Xishuangbanna).

stok a zagaye:  (Thai) lance "after the Moors fashion; 'tis like the blade of a Sabre at the end of a Stick."  de la Loubere, p. 167; see ngaw.

Sukhothai:  first capital of a centralized Thai kingdom (1249 to 1438 -- the "Sukhothai period"), in competion with, and eventually replaced by, Ayutthaya as the dominant center of Thai power.

Tai:  an ethnic group originating in southern China (south of the Yangtze, in Yunnan Province and parts of Szechuan and Guangxi Provinces), which gradually migrated and spread west and south into upper Burma, Thailand and Laos; present-day Thai, Shan and Lao all belong to this ethnic group (also spelled Dai).

Tai Khoen:  (also Tai Khun) a Tai people inhabiting the Shan State of Chien Tung (Keng Tung), closely related to the Tai Lue, with whom they traditionally intermarried.

Tai Lao:  a Tai people inhabiting present-day Laos and ajoining areas; see Lao.

Tai Lue:  a Tai people originally from the Xishuangbanna (Sipsong Pan Na, Jin Dian) area of Yunnan, migrated into the Shan States of present-day Burma and Lan Na (Chiang Mai) in present-day Thailand, closely related to the Tai Khoen, with whom they have traditionally intermarried.

Tai Neua:  a Tai people.

Tai Shan:  (also Tai Yai) a Tai people inhabiting the Shan States of present-day Burma.

Tai Yai:  see Tai Shan.

Tai Yuan:  "Northern Tai," a Tai people inhabiting northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Lan Na)

Thai:  a Tai (Dai) people related to the Shan of Burma and the Lao of Laos, originally from southern China, who settled in the Menam (Mae Nam) river basin; an alliance of Thai princes resulted in the foundation of the kingdom of Sukothai in around 1220.   Sukothai was the progenitor of the later Kingdoms of Siam and Thailand.

"Thonburi Period":  1767 to 1782, the brief period in which Thonburi was the capital of Siam and co-extensive with the reign of Taksin the Great; ended with the deposition of Taksin and the founding of the Chakri Dynasty.

throat:  the upper section of a scabbard, closest to the handle of the sword when sheathed.

touan:  (Thai) lance (after de la Loubere).

Yodaya:  Burmese name for the Thai/Siamese (southern Tai), derived from Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of the Siamese kingdom.

Yunnan:  province in southern China, bordered by Burma and Tibet to the west, and Laos and Vietnam to the south.