Yao Shaman’s Ritual Dagger
Iron, brass, wood, antique coins from China
14.5 in. x 2.5 in. at hilt. Blade 1 in. at widest point.
Ceremonial daggers such as this are known Kim Tsin and used in Yao rituals to repel evil spirits. The old coins provide the rattle necessary to keep them at bay. Blue, white and red ribbons are tied to the knives for further spiritual enhancement before the ceremony begins. (See The Yao, The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand by Jess G. Pourett, Art Media Resources, Ltd.,2002 for more information). The traditional sinuous design of the iron embellishment that surmounts the brass capped wooden handle, the rings of old Chinese coins, and the spiral iron hilt contribute to the sculptural feel of this handsome object. The patina of years of use attests to its ethnographic significance as well as its visual appeal.