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Mishmi dao

Mishmi dao
Photo Credit: Tashi Tobgyal

When in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, trust a --dao-- to be your efficient companion than a fancy Swiss knife.

Kai Friese
August 18 , 2015
Less than 1 Min Read

Preparing for an expedition into the jungles of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, my friend Harsh and I were reassured by the cutting edge technology of our blades: my Swiss knife, his Leatherman. We never used them. Because anything a Victorinox can do, a trusty dao can do better—at least in the hands of a rugged Mishmi backwoodsman. Clearing undergrowth, felling trees, turning giant bamboo into water flasks, slicing leeches from your ankles and even filleting the day’s bag of game (depressingly, it was usually monkey). Harsh and I usually came panting and crashing through the jungle a few hours behind everyone else but there was no better sound than the approaching snicker-snack of daos, heralding the comforts of camp. After eight days of cutting a swathe through the vegetation ahead of us, our guides celebrated the end of their labours by presenting us with a brace of daos. We made it back from their village to Mohanbari airport where the daos showed up on the x-ray machine but caused no alarm. The forgotten Swiss knife was confiscated. I won’t miss it.


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