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Kasa Tibetan Sword: Legend of the snowland


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Kasa Tibetan Sword: Legend of the snowland

雪域传奇卡萨藏刀

 

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.

 

1600多年前,吐蕃政权(公元618年—842年,由古代藏族在青藏高原所建)便发现了铜、铁、银矿,当地匠人还懂得冶炼,从此藏族人便开始了锻打腰刀的生产历史。卡萨藏刀也是在这一漫长的历史长河中,由香格里拉的藏族群众生产出来的品质优良、独具民族特色的藏刀品种之一。

羊塘(今迪庆州香格里拉市小中甸乡)吴公噶家生产藏刀已有900多年的历史。噶家的原名叫康斯达杰达,“噶”在藏语中意为工匠。因他们家生产藏刀,被当地藏民取其家名为“噶”,这里的藏刀锋利精致,与格萨尔王刀相媲美,远近闻名。由此,又被当地藏民誉称为“卡萨藏刀”,蕴含着雪域英雄格萨尔王宝剑镇魔驱邪、报平安吉祥之意,流传至今。

在藏刀的制作过程中十分讲究刀刃的钢火,钢火的好坏决定了刀的实用性,利用泥水、酥油、羚羊血和藏青果等进行淬火,钢火更好。卡萨藏刀的淬火有其独特之处,常常用寒雪来淬火,使其刀钢质坚硬而有韧性,刀刃锋利。

 

Butter-cutting knife

酥油刀

 

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

 

Dragon-Phoenix

龙凤呈祥

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

十二生肖刀

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

卡萨特殊钢菜刀

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

九龙刀

 

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

独龙立体刀

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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