|Famous Thai Swordsmen|
1491-1529 A.D.Thailand’s legendary hero Khun Paen grew up in Kanchanaburi Province, which would later become famous as being home to the “Bridge on the River Kwai”. Khun Paen was a disciple of Arjarn Kong, a monk who was an expert in magical studies. The martial prowess of Paen, a monk-turned-soldier, brought him to the attention of king Phra Ramathibodi II who promoted him to the rank of Khun (general). Khun Paen is immortalized in an epic poem. It is said that he used his knowledge of “saiyasat” (magic) and yantras (magic diagrams) to perform amazing feats. Some of these include making himself impenetrable by weapons and invisible to his enemies, changing the open field his enemies were marching across into a labyrinth, and transforming the leaves on the trees into wasps to attack and sting his enemies. Khun Paen and his men practiced “powwana” (meditation) before each battle in order to focus their minds and center themselves. The sword weilded by Khun Paen, called the ‘Daab Fa Fuen’, was a consecrated blade of Namphi steel which currently resides in the National Museum in Bangkok.
1741-1782 A.D.The Siamese hero known as Phraya Pichai was born Thongdee Fan Kao in Uttarradit. As a young boy he loved Muay Thai boxing and studied with many teachers. When he was twenty years old he attended a Muay Thai contest in the town of Tak where he soundly defeated the local champion, a master named, Arjarn Nai Hao. This brought the notice of General Taksin who asked Nai Thongdee to join his army and be his personal bodyguard. He would eventually work his way up to the rank of commander-in-chief.
In 1773 using guerrilla tactics, Phraya (general) Nai Thongdee captured the city of Pichai, expelling the Burmese oppressors. Nai Thongdee went into battle with a Namphi sword named “Nantakawut” in his left hand and an ordinary sword in his right. After many fierce clashes, he slipped and used his ordinary sword to catch his balance by sticking its point into the ground. As he leaned on the sword it broke in half. Nai Thongdee fought on with both swords and he led his army to victory forcing the Burmese to flee back across the border.
As a result of this battle he was known as ‘Phraya Pichai Daab Hak’ (Daab Hak) meaning broken sword.A monument to the memory of Phraya Pichai was built in 1969. The bronze image of the great warrior stands proudly in front of the Parliament Building in Uttarradit and serves as a reminder of the amazing man’s courage and loyalty to his King and the Thai nation.
|Famous Thai Swords – Namphi Steel|
|The photos below were taken at the Namphi Museum. The figures are part of a Display demonstrating the ancient Thai sword forging process. It is performed much the same way to this day in Namphi village.Preparing materials and stoking the forge.||Lek Namphi|
Steel of RoyaltySince the Ayuddahyan dynasty (1350-1767 A.D.) a unique steel called Lek Namphi has been used solely for the production of high quality swords for the kings and high ranking officials of Thailand. It is made from ore that can only be found in one place, the peaceful village of Namphi.There are several steel mines in the area but the most famous of these is named Bo Phra Saeng which means literally “sword mine”.
While Japanese swords are famous because of the technology of their forging process, it is the mysterious quality of the raw material that makes Namphi steel so famous. The ancient Thai people believed that a sword made of Namphi steel, which is silvery-blue and tough and hard, possessed the power to neutralize spells, charms, curses and warn its owner of impending danger by springing out of its sheath. It could easily cut through a sword made of ordinary steel without leaving so much as a scratch on the blade. Modern Namphi sword smiths substantiate this claim by cutting through iron nails as a means of testing their new swords. Namphi steel is also said to have a higher than usual resistance to corrosion.
When forging swords from Namphi steel the sword smiths refer to the metal as having two faces, female and male. While being worked into shape the metal is in the female stage and is a natural silvery white color. But when the smith heats the blade in the final tempering process the steel transforms becoming male and dark blue.
It has been noted that mobile communications are disrupted in Namphi village and lately scientists have been coming and going to research this material mainly due to the strange qualities the steel is supposed to possess.
Could it perhaps be a meteorite?
Like their Japanese counterparts the Thai sword makers would often perform a ceremony to invoke the help of their teachers and God to insure a successful forging. One such ceremony called”Pitae Wai Kutao” is held annually at the first Thursday of the 6th Thai’s lunar month that around May and June.
Recently the King of Thailand has made Namphi steel open to other that royal use. Because Namphi steel is said to have the qualities to neutralize evil spells, charms and curses it is used primarily to make products for religious uses, such as small statues of the Buddha, Buddhist prayer beads, swords and ritual knives used by monks in ceremonies. Placing a consecrated Namphi sword on the personal shrine in your house will, the Thai people believe, protect those inside from ghosts.
|The hammering process to remove|
impurities and shape the steel.
|A Namphi sword – unsheathed.|
|A Namphi sword – sheathed and placed on a decorative rack.|
Yantra, such as the one pictured above are frequently found inscribed near the tip of Namphi swords. The yantra, a geometric diagram symbolic of a diety, derived from the Hindu Tantric tradition, is engraved on the blade to enhance the inherent supernatural powers believed to reside in Namphi steel.