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Kasa Tibetan Sword: Legend of the snowland

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Kasa Tibetan Sword: Legend of the snowland



By Yang Xiujie     Edited by Yu Xuebin


Over 1,600 years ago, during the reign of ancient Tibetan leader Tubo regime (618—842 AD) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, copper, iron and silver ores were discovered and the local craftsmen also had some metallurgical knowledge, Tibetan people started to forge broadswords. The Kasa Tibetan Sword is a highly-prized style of broadswords, with unique ethnic characteristics, traditionally produced by the Tibetan people in Shangri-La.

The Wu Gongga family in Yangtang (now Xiaozhongdian Township, Shangri-La City, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) has engaged in the manufacturing of Tibetan swords for over 900 years. Originally named “KangsiDajieda”, the family’s involvement in sword-making led to them being known as “Ga” (“craftsman”) in Tibetan area. These Tibetan swords, are so sharp and beautifully-made and renowned, that they have been compared with the sword of King Gesar—the legendary hero of the snow-covered land, who used his sword to ward off evil and bring peace and which symbolizes auspiciousness—leading local Tibetans to refer to them as “Kasa Tibetan Swords”.

During manufacturing, the quality of the cutting edge of Tibetan swords is strictly controlled, and their usability is entirely dependent on this edge. This quality depends on the liquids used for quenching: for most Tibetan swords, muddy water, butter, antelope blood and cherry plum are used to improve quality. But Kasa Tibetan Swords have a unique quenching method: they are usually quenched in snow, to produce a more hardened and ductile blade, with a sharper edge.






Butter-cutting knife



Tibetan people carry these small, exquisite, highly-portable knives specially for cutting butter. With blades of traditional steel, their silver scabbards are carved with phoenix patterns, and handles bear the traditionally auspicious lotus.

Size: 8cm

Market price: 360 yuan each




Forged by using traditional craftsmanship, this knife has a handle wound with silver wire by using traditional methods, and scabbard with bas relief carvings of dragon and phoenix on one side, and exquisite patterns of the “Eight Auspicious Symbols” on the other, making it hard to put down.

Size: 20cm

Market price: 648 yuan each


Zodiac sword


With a scabbard carved with lifelike Zodiac images, these swords are usually hung in the shrines of Tibetan household, to bring peace and auspiciousness all year round. Their blades, quenched using traditional methods, can cut iron; their filigreed silver scabbards bear witness to the exquisite traditional craftsmanship of their makers.

Size: 30cm

Market price: 2,600 yuan each


Kasa steel kitchen knife


Based on traditional swords, these practical knives for daily use are made with traditional sword materials, to better meet the everyday needs of nowadays people, making them eminently practical. Aside from the kitchen knives, there are also special chopping knives.

Size: 20cm×12cm

Market price: 189 yuan each


Nine-dragon sword



The archetypal Kasa Tibetan sword, the Nine-Dragon Sword, was worn only by men of power in traditional society: the right to bear it was considered a privilege. Made of local Xiaozhongdian steel, the sword is manually forged and quenched, scabbard is carved with nine lifelike dragons and inlaid with red agates. Now these swords are most often used as ornaments, believed to keep evil spirits away.

Size: 60cm

Market price: 6,800 yuan each


Single-dragon sword


Made with traditional craftsmanship, this sword’s exquisite and beautiful silver scabbard bears deep bas relief carvings. A traditional broadsword, with great significance in daily lives of local Tibetan people, it is functional, durable and beautiful.

Size: 19cm

Market price: 5,800 yuan each


Address: Kasa Tibetan Swords, near National Highway G214, Lianhe Village, Xiaozhongdian Town, Shangri-La

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