Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Prasanna Weerakkody 8th October 2012 07:00 AM

Hi all,

Ibrahim, My issues with your earlier posts was due to you being too quick to adopt and back the alternate history propagated by the recently defeated separatist/ terrorist outfit here (Which is still a sore point here), It could have been different if you also give fare or adequate consideration on the Main stream history, Which I think was beginning to emerge on your later posts. As long as any arguments are not taken on a single concept based on limited sources and not jumping to accept them as true too fast it is not a issue to use them for the purpose in hand. I think you have become more objective in latter post while you have taken time to read more…

My contention with your view of the Kasthana hilt being a Makara comes from 1. the assessment of the portrayal of Makara and Lion figures in Sinhala ornamentation in a general context broader than the Kasthana. 2. There are references in the surviving “Angampora” traditions (which is the remnants of the indigenous martial arts of Sri Lanka with a clear history at least to the 16th century) which describe the hilt of a Kasthana as a Lion head. Your point about the makara being adopted as the hilt due to a link to the Karava cast is not valid as 1. The makara is not endemic to the Karava cast as well as they were not the leading warrior classes in the country though they were part of the whole. 2. The primary warrior schools were the “Maruwalliya” and “Sudaliya” (which included warriors from all main casts including the Govi-gama, Karawa and many others) at the time and they would be the main contenders to design influence if any.

Sinhala Heraldry in the period was well developed and the Lion was a primary emblem of the Sithawaka kingdom under the Rajasinghe I (Raja-Singhe = Royal Lion) who was undoubtedly the Greatest Warrior King in the Late-Post Medieval Sri Lanka, The use of Lion in heraldic devises is widespread in the period.

The adoption of up curved single edged blades in Sri Lanka is believed to have originated around the 16th Century. It is rather likely that the blade forms were influenced by the Moors as there were significant trade links with them and military allegiances as with that of the Samorin of Calicut, It is also believed that the indigenous and endemic Sinhala hand gun the “Bondikula” was also derived from the Moor Bunduq. This was a time of craft revival and people would take pains in to turning even everyday items in to minor works of art. The motifs though having some similarities with Indian and even south East Asian forms has distinct indigenous twists on many occasions. The Sinhala Makara is mostly portrayed spewing plant forms (kalpa Wruksha- Tree of eternity) out of its mouth instead of animal forms etc. Judging by the variety of weapons that have endemic sub groups to the regional weapons created by local craftsmen and my earlier indications I also tend to believe the origin of the Kasthana is Lankan.

Jens, Apologize for error in spelling- Yarl for Yali, As you rightfully pointed out about the presence of Makara over Yali - the Sinhalese stories of origin (Vijaya or Prince Simhala etc) point to a North Indian link which was further strengthened by several other embassies and import of North Indian Crafts and traditions during the time of Emperor Asoka of India etc. The regular wars with invading parties from the South Indian Chola Kingdoms strengthened the Sinhala Identification with the North Indian Aryan culture over the Southern Dravidian whose design elements begin to influence Local art only post to the 8th Century and relocation of the Kingdom to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura.

One additional but significant point that confirms the use of Kasthana in the Battlefield is in the Sinhala “Hatan-Kavya” literature of the period. these poetic narrations of wars including sometimes detail descriptions of each of the heroes in the battles and the weapons they used include many references to use of Kasthana in the field.

Regards

Prasanna

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 8th October 2012 10:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Hi all,

Ibrahim, My issues with your earlier posts was due to you being too quick to adopt and back the alternate history propagated by the recently defeated separatist/ terrorist outfit here (Which is still a sore point here), It could have been different if you also give fare or adequate consideration on the Main stream history, Which I think was beginning to emerge on your later posts. As long as any arguments are not taken on a single concept based on limited sources and not jumping to accept them as true too fast it is not a issue to use them for the purpose in hand. I think you have become more objective in latter post while you have taken time to read more…

My contention with your view of the Kasthana hilt being a Makara comes from 1. the assessment of the portrayal of Makara and Lion figures in Sinhala ornamentation in a general context broader than the Kasthana. 2. There are references in the surviving “Angampora” traditions (which is the remnants of the indigenous martial arts of Sri Lanka with a clear history at least to the 16th century) which describe the hilt of a Kasthana as a Lion head. Your point about the makara being adopted as the hilt due to a link to the Karava cast is not valid as 1. The makara is not endemic to the Karava cast as well as they were not the leading warrior classes in the country though they were part of the whole. 2. The primary warrior schools were the “Maruwalliya” and “Sudaliya” (which included warriors from all main casts including the Govi-gama, Karawa and many others) at the time and they would be the main contenders to design influence if any.

Sinhala Heraldry in the period was well developed and the Lion was a primary emblem of the Sithawaka kingdom under the Rajasinghe I (Raja-Singhe = Royal Lion) who was undoubtedly the Greatest Warrior King in the Late-Post Medieval Sri Lanka, The use of Lion in heraldic devises is widespread in the period.

The adoption of up curved single edged blades in Sri Lanka is believed to have originated around the 16th Century. It is rather likely that the blade forms were influenced by the Moors as there were significant trade links with them and military allegiances as with that of the Samorin of Calicut, It is also believed that the indigenous and endemic Sinhala hand gun the “Bondikula” was also derived from the Moor Bunduq. This was a time of craft revival and people would take pains in to turning even everyday items in to minor works of art. The motifs though having some similarities with Indian and even south East Asian forms has distinct indigenous twists on many occasions. The Sinhala Makara is mostly portrayed spewing plant forms (kalpa Wruksha- Tree of eternity) out of its mouth instead of animal forms etc. Judging by the variety of weapons that have endemic sub groups to the regional weapons created by local craftsmen and my earlier indications I also tend to believe the origin of the Kasthana is Lankan.

Jens, Apologize for error in spelling- Yarl for Yali, As you rightfully pointed out about the presence of Makara over Yali - the Sinhalese stories of origin (Vijaya or Prince Simhala etc) point to a North Indian link which was further strengthened by several other embassies and import of North Indian Crafts and traditions during the time of Emperor Asoka of India etc. The regular wars with invading parties from the South Indian Chola Kingdoms strengthened the Sinhala Identification with the North Indian Aryan culture over the Southern Dravidian whose design elements begin to influence Local art only post to the 8th Century and relocation of the Kingdom to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura.

One additional but significant point that confirms the use of Kasthana in the Battlefield is in the Sinhala “Hatan-Kavya” literature of the period. these poetic narrations of wars including sometimes detail descriptions of each of the heroes in the battles and the weapons they used include many references to use of Kasthana in the field.

Regards

Prasanna


Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody~ Thank you for your excellent and informative reply. Virtually no previous information existed previously on Kastane on Forum, therefor, I make no excuses for drumming up as much as I can get my hands on so that an informed opinion can perhaps be drawn at some point about this great subject. I repeat that no offence was intended with reference to your National Emblems however it is clearly an interesting situation and I believe comparisons to the Makara are well founded historically pointing to that as the inspiration to the Kastane hilt. Makara are seen in many other settings with other deities coming from their mouths; Surely the Kastane hilt illustrates this ?

The Lion is a contentious issue and I would prefer to leave it on record and for information whilst other details can be pieced together ...

It is perfectly normal and to be expected that where rivalry exists one particular tribe will be favoured by its followers to the detriment of the others. Whilst there may be an argument for this occurring in Sri Lankan society I also step aside, but as before, include the information.

Your information about short and long blades is very interesting. The Moors arrived over a long period some in the 1st century and others in the 8th and the 14th, I understand. Looking at the picture of your Sri Lankan man wearing the Kastane it is obvious that the weapon could be a ships item and could have been a Moorish sword. I think however that in observing the Kandyan Royal Workshops system the weapon is ideally placed to have been made there. The different workshops included~

1. Master Swordmakers.
2. Gold and Silver artesans.
3. Specialist Carvers of horn and bone (Rhino)
4. Eyemakeup specialists. Mentioned because great emphasis was aplied to this as an art form and the treatment of the eyes of the Kastane hilt are notable...likely to have attracted the attention of another group of specialists~
5. Specialists in semi precious and precious stones.
6. Specialist metalworkers ... For the Scabbard.

Of particular interest is the early Kastane mentioned by you ... Can we see a picture of that please. The other very important detail is your reference to poetry which may be an extremely important source of fact concerning the Kastane. (or Kasthane)

It is my opinion that the Kastane is a purebred Sri Lankan sword and must have been designed before 1620 and more than likely previous to the appearance in the Indian Ocean the Europeans.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

tribalarms 8th October 2012 11:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
An image of the Kastane in native context with a baldric suspension a video of an outstanding example.....subtitled for those who don't understand "American" :p

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH__TFpU2SA

Gav


It appears as the fine example in the video was offered on Ebay only weeks ago.

As it did not sell, I'm not sure if it would be correct to post a link to the Ebay auction or include images as it might be relisted?

VANDOO 8th October 2012 02:13 PM

1 Attachment(s)
AS I KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT ALL THIS I MAY ASK A SILLY QUESTION. PERHAPS THE LION MENTIONED IS ACTUALLY THE BARONG WHICH IS A LION LIKE BEING REPRESENTING GOOD AGAINST RAGDA THE EVIL WITCH IN BALI. WAS THE BARONG PRESENT IN CEYLON AND INDIA IN ANCIENT TIMES?

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 8th October 2012 08:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
AS I KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT ALL THIS I MAY ASK A SILLY QUESTION. PERHAPS THE LION MENTIONED IS ACTUALLY THE BARONG WHICH IS A LION LIKE BEING REPRESENTING GOOD AGAINST RAGDA THE EVIL WITCH IN BALI. WAS THE BARONG PRESENT IN CEYLON AND INDIA IN ANCIENT TIMES?



Salaams Vandoo Amazing ... Where did you find the photo of my ex Mother in Law?
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi. :D

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 8th October 2012 08:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalarms
It appears as the fine example in the video was offered on Ebay only weeks ago.

As it did not sell, I'm not sure if it would be correct to post a link to the Ebay auction or include images as it might be relisted?


Salaams tribalarms ! Well it was listed as sold or gone to lunch or... anyway I was told it was purchased by the Sri Lankan National Museum...and anyway its a film. And a very knowledgeable and informative bit of kit indeed for our esteemed library... its a must see... A pictures worth a thousand words but a film... must be worth a lot more ! See that Makara Hilt !!
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 8th October 2012 08:41 PM

Salaams :D ~ Anybody out there??? Hello ~ Calling all Lurkers....hello

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi

fernando 9th October 2012 04:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalarms
... As it did not sell, I'm not sure if it would be correct to post a link to the Ebay auction or include images as it might be relisted?


Yes, it is wise not to include them.

fernando 9th October 2012 06:29 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
[COLOR=Red][QUOTE=Jim McDougall]

1. Is the Kastane a Sri Lankan or Portuguese weapon?...

What about the following approach:
The Kastane is a Sinhalese sword that might have been through timely modifications influenced by Portuguese ... both in hilt shape and perhaps in name.
Whether the term Kastane has derived from the Portuguese castão (stick knob) this is apparently an idea that is not so sustainable and may be no more than a suggestion. However it looks more plausible the written pretension that its blade ricasso and the two rings that bend and close towards the blade are signs of Portuguese influence ... the two bent rings recalling the (less) curved protections for the forefinger to hold the blunt ricasso, for better handling control; being this present in the Kastane as only a decoration detail, the Sinhalese having not adopted this way of handling the sword.

Perhaps is noteworthy to advance that:
Whether this is not scientifically or academically evidentiated, is something for which there is no need for exhaustive denial. It is only a refutable approach to the Kastane subject presented on a digestive manner. There will be no need to embark on a full thesis on historical and social events from the period, specially if its contents is composed by a massive narration that hardly contemplates the scope of our forum; weapons.

All the best Gentlemen

.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 9th October 2012 07:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
[QUOTE=Ibrahiim al Balooshi][COLOR=Red]
What about the following approach:
The Kastane is a Sinhalese sword that might have been through timely modifications influenced by Portuguese ... both in hilt shape and perhaps in name.
Whether the term Kastane has derived from the Portuguese castão (stick knob) this is apparently an idea that is not so sustainable and may be no more than a suggestion. However it looks more plausible the written pretension that its blade ricasso and the two rings that bend and close towards the blade are signs of Portuguese influence ... the two bent rings recalling the (less) curved protections for the forefinger to hold the blunt ricasso, for better handling control; being this present in the Kastane as only a decoration detail, the Sinhalese having not adopted this way of handling the sword.

Perhaps is noteworthy to advance that:
Whether this is not scientifically or academically evidentiated, is something for which there is no need for exhaustive denial. It is only a refutable approach to the Kastane subject presented on a digestive manner. There will be no need to embark on a full thesis on historical and social events from the period, specially if its contents is composed by a massive narration that hardly contemplates the scope of our forum; weapons.

All the best Gentlemen

.



Salaams fernando ~ Thank you for your informed and well placed post on the idiosyncracies of this weapon which has for so long been shrouded in mystique but now with forum research now has a beam of light focussed upon it as never before.

Your main point, however, is puzzling since unless we discover who and what the influence was upon the hilt how can we unravel the sliding, slithering misinformation that appears to surround this conundrum?...Trying to be objective and to observe the clearly obvious historical evidence is surely the essence of this forum... unless we simply bow down to the "balloney" that has been promulgated for the last few centuries.

Not only is there confusion caused by the origins of the Hilt... and presumably the blade, but clouded by 3 loads of invaders and a serious period of belly dancer polluted weapons probably cast elsewhere (though I have no evidence of the casting locations yet) and though this is an obvious sideshow (no pun intended) the belly dancing issue did occur. The ensuing poor quality of such dancing implements cannot have helped.

Perhaps I have shoved in front of people too much detail... but since there was almost none before that must be a good thing... My main questions are narrowed on the question of Portuguese design influence versus purebred Sri Lankan origin: the latter which I suspect to be true. On the other hand as you point to a possible Portuguese hilt influence that can be viewed and weighed up.

The timeline has to be observed ... That is where historical records need looking at and as has been shown by Prasanna Weerakkody there is vital documentary within the regions Poetry~ Neither are directly concerned with swords but nor can we ignore what could be important information. I further urge that it is for the very reason the failure to understand the Kastane is becaause of its face value only... whilst the real proper research has fallen by the wayside.

I have shown good cause for the Makara arguement (discussion) and for a ballpark timeline for the Kastane. I have also illustrated the historical though splintered Kingdoms under whose auspices expert craft-workshops operated and who would have been very capable makers of the Kastane. The evidence of the Popham and the Japan delegation present in the Sendai museum has been taken into account. I cannot see where I may have missed the importance of the sword and having also placed several photographs ....?

Here is an extract made compact enough so people can readily observe the details ...of the Portuguese build up which is important to understand because they didn't suddenly seize partial control all at once in the early 17th C. Moreover this window into the important history shows the Moorish element and gives a flavour of the moment when it was all happening..

"Quote"
At the onset of the European period in Sri Lanka in the sixteenth century, there were three native centers of political power: the two Sinhalese kingdoms of Kotte and Kandy and the Tamil kingdom at Jaffna. Kotte was the principal seat of Sinhalese power, and it claimed a largely imaginary overlordship not only over Kandy but also over the entire island. None of the three kingdoms, however, had the strength to assert itself over the other two and reunify the island.

In 1505 Don Lourenço de Almeida, son of the Portuguese viceroy in India, was sailing off the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka looking for Moorish ships to attack when stormy weather forced his fleet to dock at Galle. Word of these strangers who "eat hunks of white stone and drink blood (presumably wine). . . and have guns with a noise louder than thunder. . ." spread quickly and reached King Parakramabahu VIII of Kotte (1484-1508), who offered gifts of cinnamon and elephants to the Portuguese to take back to their home port at Cochin on the Malabar Coast of southwestern India. The king also gave the Portuguese permission to build a residence in Colombo for trade purposes. Within a short time, however, Portuguese militaristic and monopolistic intentions became apparent. Their heavily fortified "trading post" at Colombo and open hostility toward the island's Muslim traders aroused Sinhalese suspicions.

Following the decline of the Chola as a maritime power in the twelfth century, Muslim trading communities in South Asia claimed a major share of commerce in the Indian Ocean and developed extensive east-west, as well as Indo-Sri Lankan, commercial trade routes. As the Portuguese expanded into the region, this flourishing Muslim trade became an irresistible target for European interlopers. The sixteenth-century Roman Catholic Church was intolerant of Islam and encouraged the Portuguese to take over the profitable shipping trade monopolized by the Moors. In addition, the Portuguese would later have another strong motive for hostility toward the Moors because the latter played an important role in the Kandyan economy, one that enabled the kingdom successfully to resist the Portuguese.
"Unquote"

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

VANDOO 9th October 2012 07:47 PM

1 Attachment(s)
FERNANDO'S EXAMPLE DOES INDEED SHOW A DOLPHIN DESIGN WHICH WAS POPULAR IN ROME AND WAS PRESENT ON A CORNICE OF THE TEMPLE OF NEPTUNE IN ANCIENT ROME. THIS DOLPHIN WAS A POPULAR DESIGN IN ROME ESPECIALLY IN THE LATE 17 TO THE EARLY 18 TH. CENTURYS HERE IS A PICTURE OF A TABLE 18TH. CENTURY GEORGE 2 DOLPHIN SLAB TABLE.
NO DOUBT THERE WAS INFLUENCE FROM ANCIENT TIMES UP TO AND INCLUDING THE PRESENCE OF EUROPEAN NATIONS PERIOD OF INFLUENCE. FERNANDOS EXAMPLE IS LIKELY SUCH AN EXAMPLE FROM AROUND 17TH TO 18 CENTURY.
THE ORIGINAL FORMS AND INFLUENCE WOULD HAVE LIKELY BEEN FROM HINDU AND BUDHIST INFLUENCE. CEYLON WAS A SEAFARING CIVILIZATION AND LIKELY ENCOUNTERED AND TRADED WITH ALL OTHER SEAFARING GROUPS IN THE REGION SO OTHER INFLUENCES MAY HAVE BEEN AT PLAY EARLY IN THE SWORDS EVOLUTION TO ITS PRESENT FORM.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 9th October 2012 08:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
FERNANDO'S EXAMPLE DOES INDEED SHOW A DOLPHIN DESIGN WHICH WAS POPULAR IN ROME AND WAS PRESENT ON A CORNICE OF THE TEMPLE OF NEPTUNE IN ANCIENT ROME. THIS DOLPHIN WAS A POPULAR DESIGN IN ROME ESPECIALLY IN THE LATE 17 TO THE EARLY 18 TH. CENTURYS HERE IS A PICTURE OF A TABLE 18TH. CENTURY GEORGE 2 DOLPHIN SLAB TABLE.
NO DOUBT THERE WAS INFLUENCE FROM ANCIENT TIMES UP TO AND INCLUDING THE PRESENCE OF EUROPEAN NATIONS PERIOD OF INFLUENCE. FERNANDOS EXAMPLE IS LIKELY SUCH AN EXAMPLE FROM AROUND 17TH TO 18 CENTURY.
THE ORIGINAL FORMS AND INFLUENCE WOULD HAVE LIKELY BEEN FROM HINDU AND BUDHIST INFLUENCE. CEYLON WAS A SEAFARING CIVILIZATION AND LIKELY ENCOUNTERED AND TRADED WITH ALL OTHER SEAFARING GROUPS IN THE REGION SO OTHER INFLUENCES MAY HAVE BEEN AT PLAY EARLY IN THE SWORDS EVOLUTION TO ITS PRESENT FORM.


Salaams Vandoo... The Makara is historically entwined in Sri Lankan history going back ...way back.... I have recorded it and shown the almost identical form on the Katane. Whilst dolphin may look vaguely in that ballpark they don't have the same face and don't spew other deities from their mouths... I put it to you that dolphin tables are simply that; dolphin tables. You are right about the Sri Lankan traders though.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 9th October 2012 08:15 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
[QUOTE=fernando] ...Trying to be objective ...

Shalom Ibrahiim,
I truly admire your eloquence as well as your cultural luggage. But coming to the point of being objective and only caring about the object of our scope, i would point out that, either i am blocked or, a great part of your present letter was already presented in post #10... precisely a part that doesn't reveal any evidence or peripheral accounts of weapons evolution :cool: .

Jim McDougall 9th October 2012 10:17 PM

As noted in Elgood ("Firearms of the Islamic World",1995) notes , when Ludevico di Vathema arrived in Ceylon in 1505, the year before d'Almeida, he notes the Sinhalese use of lances and swords. I am presuming that these swords were probably of the types used in Southern India in these and previous periods.

From Cordiner (1807, "Ceylon", p.115-16) "...the evolution of the decorative hilt of the curved scimitar like kastane is not without interest. From a weapon of utility the sword became a sign of rank and the heads of lions, serapendiyas and human figures increased in number. Originally the hilt consisted of a lions head, the knuckleguard and the two quillons terminating simply. "
Also, "...a sword said to have belonged to Analepola Adigar with straight blade with low crested lionhead pommel"...is in Kandy Museum.

In Deraniyagala (1942, p.113) "..the development of the ceremonial sword of rank soon unfitted it for fighting purposes as the elaborate crest to the lionheaded hilt comes into uncomfortable contact with the heel of the users had or wrist, while it is also significant that swords so ornamented generally appear too small for war, unlike the larger ones which have no crests. The latter swords also possess as many as four quillons. "
Also noted, "...the mitta (=hilt) ...sinha munu mitta (=lion faced hilt).
The quillons are noted as serapendiya.

Cordiner (op.cit. p.97) states everyone in office wore a sword with hilt of silver as well as scabbard of silver and the design and workmanship indicated rank of wearer. The lowest were of wood.

With these notes I am thinking that perhaps the hilt indeed represented lionheads on the Sinhalese courtly swords, as these were regally symbolic. I cannot see any evidence to suggest that lionheads would have come from European influence as these are longstanding in the subcontinent from Rajputs and Sikhs (singh=lion) . Elgood ("Hindu Arms and Ritual", p.294) notes, ".....the Hindu court used iconographic lions earlier than 17th century as architectural evidence demonstrates".

I am wondering if perhaps the lionhead kastane would be of course the Sinhalese sword well recognized, and the 'variant' head forms might indeed be makara and more associated with kavara as suggested. While there is an obvious separation between the Kandy kingdom and many of the other primarily coastal regions, as well as the colonial circumstances, it seems that such interpretations could be possible.

It seems virtually all examples of kastane with VOC markings and dates are invariably 18th century, during thier reorganization efforts. As far as I know, there are no British EIC marked blades, and David Harding ("Small Arms of the East India Company") indicates no swords were so marked, only firearms and bayonets.

Prasanna Weerakkody 10th October 2012 04:43 AM

Ibrahim, Still am a bit puzzled by some of the Sri Lankan History you present. I have never heard of a Karawa kingdom in My country. Karawa as far as I know was only a “cast” of Sinhalese; I would say they were a minor portion of the population and particular to the coastal districts primarily on the Western and Southern Sea boards. Except for being part of the Karawa.org web site I am not too sure if all of it can be equally upheld as true. The information that caste Karawa influenced the Sinhalese design to such an extent is very new to me, Swords or otherwise.

Vandoo curiously my personal belief is that the original Makara was a Cetacean- Probably a Pilot whale or Sperm whale. incidentally Sri Lankan waters are also a global hot spot for Marine Mammals. (being a marine environmentalist on the side makes this very exciting to me) But delving on that is another long story entirely.

The possibility of the name Kasthana being influenced by the Portuguese is real as it is a word that does not seem to have a direct meaning in Sinhala or have too many similar words to accompany it. Curiously the only other similar term that (comes to my mind) that may also shed a little light on this is the “Patisthana” spears; being of the same class as the Partisans. The similarity between the terms “Kasthana” or “Patisthana” seem obvious. The only difference being the presence of a much more ancient form of spear known in literature as the “patissa” which is most probably ancestor to the “Patisthana”. It is known that the Sinhala elite of the era was quite conversant with Portuguese and the use of the language had become wide spread and stylish as a secondary language in the Country. even today there is a rather large number of words of Portuguese origin amalgamated within the Sinhala language.

fernando 10th October 2012 11:49 AM

Great knowledge, Prasanna !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
... The possibility of the name Kasthana being influenced by the Portuguese is real as it is a word that does not seem to have a direct meaning in Sinhala or have too many similar words to accompany it...

I too have heard about the 'uniqueness' of the term, but am not studious enough to go deep into it, neither i recall the source i have read about it; so i preferred to attribute it some reserve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Curiously the only other similar term that (comes to my mind) that may also shed a little light on this is the “Patisthana” spears; being of the same class as the Partisans..

Yes, specialy if you consider that the term in portuguese is Partasana.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
... It is known that the Sinhala elite of the era was quite conversant with Portuguese and the use of the language had become wide spread and stylish as a secondary language in the Country. even today there is a rather large number of words of Portuguese origin amalgamated within the Sinhala language.

Amazing ... and so familiar to what i have learnt of other places that were approached by Portuguese during that period, like in Malaca (Melaka), where the elders of a local comunity still dominate several words and expressions and in Japan, where a significant number of words were adopted and are still active in their vocabulary.

.

Jim McDougall 10th October 2012 01:59 PM

What outstanding information Prasanna!!! Thank you for these clarifications with which some key adjustments can be made to some long standing questions concerning these weapons. Thank you for the information on the Portuguese root of the kastane term as well. I notice that your spelling is different than the popularly used 'kastane', with kasthane instead. As I am far from being a linguist, may I ask what is the proper way to pronounce the term?
Interesting note on the spear, and associations with the European polearms known as partisans which have multiple blade type features. Also, the term patissa is of course used in India to describe the spatulate pointed long swords typically mounted in traditional khanda form hilts. Again, these terms being cross utilized is quite interesting with the semantics and I would imagine transliteration instances at hand.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 11th October 2012 05:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Ibrahim, Still am a bit puzzled by some of the Sri Lankan History you present. I have never heard of a Karawa kingdom in My country. Karawa as far as I know was only a “cast” of Sinhalese; I would say they were a minor portion of the population and particular to the coastal districts primarily on the Western and Southern Sea boards. Except for being part of the Karawa.org web site I am not too sure if all of it can be equally upheld as true. The information that caste Karawa influenced the Sinhalese design to such an extent is very new to me, Swords or otherwise.

Vandoo curiously my personal belief is that the original Makara was a Cetacean- Probably a Pilot whale or Sperm whale. incidentally Sri Lankan waters are also a global hot spot for Marine Mammals. (being a marine environmentalist on the side makes this very exciting to me) But delving on that is another long story entirely.

The possibility of the name Kasthana being influenced by the Portuguese is real as it is a word that does not seem to have a direct meaning in Sinhala or have too many similar words to accompany it. Curiously the only other similar term that (comes to my mind) that may also shed a little light on this is the “Patisthana” spears; being of the same class as the Partisans. The similarity between the terms “Kasthana” or “Patisthana” seem obvious. The only difference being the presence of a much more ancient form of spear known in literature as the “patissa” which is most probably ancestor to the “Patisthana”. It is known that the Sinhala elite of the era was quite conversant with Portuguese and the use of the language had become wide spread and stylish as a secondary language in the Country. even today there is a rather large number of words of Portuguese origin amalgamated within the Sinhala language.



Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody ~ Thank you for your post. (see notes below for the other variants in pronunciation and you will find Karawa listed.) For ease of look up I have placed the reference below. ( I make no apologies for hammering in the large quantity of detail so far but add that I have cautioned forumites that there is no need to plough through it all unless they want to of course ... but that it is there for reference.

Please do read the notes below however for the 7 point plan goes some way to proving my theory.

The Karava were a major fighting class at the time and it is easy to see that they may have some grievances if they are, as it is reported, been down graded to fishermen. What is very relevant as the story unfolded was who the Portuguese recruited to fight their battles for them. They co-opted the Karava dynasty; the fighting caste…which was split in half; allegiance being half for and half against the Portuguese invaders.

Where we need to focus~ is on the time period before the Portuguese involvement in Sri Lanka i.e. before 1505 ( i.e. when Don Lourenço de Almeida, son of the Portuguese viceroy in India, was sailing off the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka looking for Moorish ships to attack when stormy weather forced his fleet to dock at Galle.) ~ although the Portuguese made their big move in the late 1600s they had been very much involved and a closer look into that time frame could be revealing.

My questions are~

Are there any Kastane (Kasthane) which predate the Portuguese involvement that we may get a picture of?
How did the blades morph into short and medium sizes and why?
Were they banned from being worn in public?
Is there any influence from Moorish, Portuguese, or from other Nations on the design of the Kastane (Kasthane)?
Is there a link between the words Casao and Kasthane? It seems obscure and we have seen such puzzles come to nought before ?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Notes;
1.See this thread #14 photo 3, for A 19th century representation of the Karava Makara Flag.

2.The image of the mythical creature Makara is extensively used in ancient Sri Lankan royal architecture.See the water spout also at #14.

3.This flag is one of the main flags still used by the Karavas at their ceremonies.

4.The Mukkara Hatana, an ola leaf manuscript now in the British Museum states that King Parakramabahu IV granted it to the Karavas.

5.Parakrama Bahu IV, came to the throne in A.D. 1325/6. About 2 centuries before Portuguese involvement in the Indian Ocean.

6.Karava (pronounced Karaava) also Karawa, Karawe, Karave, Kaurava, Kshatriya, Khatriya, Kuru, Kuru Kula, Kurukulam, Kurukulum, Kurukulather or Kurukulathar is the traditional military (warrior / Kshatriya / royal ) race, of Sri Lanka.

7.The Karavas were one of the interconnected ruling dynasties of the Indian region. Royal succession in Sri Lanka passed on to Karava rulers during the Polonnaruwa period. Karava king Gajabahu was one of the greatest, and the Kandy Perehera and other annual pageants of Sri Lanka that end with the water cutting ceremony were initially pageants in honour of king Gajabahu's victories. The many kingdoms of Sri Lanka were thereafter ruled by Karava Kings and sub-kings until the last three kingdoms passed over from Karava royal families to Europeans; Kotte and Jaffna in the 16th century to the Portuguese and Kandy in the 19th century to the British.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 12th October 2012 07:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
As noted in Elgood ("Firearms of the Islamic World",1995) notes , when Ludevico di Vathema arrived in Ceylon in 1505, the year before d'Almeida, he notes the Sinhalese use of lances and swords. I am presuming that these swords were probably of the types used in Southern India in these and previous periods.

From Cordiner (1807, "Ceylon", p.115-16) "...the evolution of the decorative hilt of the curved scimitar like kastane is not without interest. From a weapon of utility the sword became a sign of rank and the heads of lions, serapendiyas and human figures increased in number. Originally the hilt consisted of a lions head, the knuckleguard and the two quillons terminating simply. "
Also, "...a sword said to have belonged to Analepola Adigar with straight blade with low crested lionhead pommel"...is in Kandy Museum.

In Deraniyagala (1942, p.113) "..the development of the ceremonial sword of rank soon unfitted it for fighting purposes as the elaborate crest to the lionheaded hilt comes into uncomfortable contact with the heel of the users had or wrist, while it is also significant that swords so ornamented generally appear too small for war, unlike the larger ones which have no crests. The latter swords also possess as many as four quillons. "
Also noted, "...the mitta (=hilt) ...sinha munu mitta (=lion faced hilt).
The quillons are noted as serapendiya.

Cordiner (op.cit. p.97) states everyone in office wore a sword with hilt of silver as well as scabbard of silver and the design and workmanship indicated rank of wearer. The lowest were of wood.

With these notes I am thinking that perhaps the hilt indeed represented lionheads on the Sinhalese courtly swords, as these were regally symbolic. I cannot see any evidence to suggest that lionheads would have come from European influence as these are longstanding in the subcontinent from Rajputs and Sikhs (singh=lion) . Elgood ("Hindu Arms and Ritual", p.294) notes, ".....the Hindu court used iconographic lions earlier than 17th century as architectural evidence demonstrates".

I am wondering if perhaps the lionhead kastane would be of course the Sinhalese sword well recognized, and the 'variant' head forms might indeed be makara and more associated with kavara as suggested. While there is an obvious separation between the Kandy kingdom and many of the other primarily coastal regions, as well as the colonial circumstances, it seems that such interpretations could be possible.

It seems virtually all examples of kastane with VOC markings and dates are invariably 18th century, during thier reorganization efforts. As far as I know, there are no British EIC marked blades, and David Harding ("Small Arms of the East India Company") indicates no swords were so marked, only firearms and bayonets.



Salaams Jim, I missed that post entirely ! Your references as always are excellent. I am at complete logaheads with the details for reasons outlined in my previous posts in that the very essence of the Kastane is its Makara hilt.. The authors are wrong in my opinion and have been spun a line or have reached the wrong conclusions. To anyone who thinks I can describe that in less shocking terms believe me I have tried but words fail me...

The hilt of the Kastane is from the ancient Makara head not the lion. Further more the modern flag illustrates an English Heraldic Lion not a lion from India or Sri Lanka where the only lion architecture are fitted around urinals. Makara on the other hand adorn all sorts of traditional artifacts including the door archways of temples, battle flags, axe weapons, and water spouts and of course Kastane hilts. The Makara, in Sri Lanka is an ancient historical mythical figure ~ the Lion is not.

The written word is the most difficult to correct ... Authors of the past are difficult or impossible to correct~ I believe they are completely wrong about this description but frankly as it effects the questions we have does it matter...I wish it didn't but I'm afraid it does.

Trying to get into the time frame of 15/16th century Sri Lanka and to view the construct of a sword hilt which is part of the psche of the Sri Lankans is important... to see if this was a Sri Lankan or invader design or both, when the question hangs over the proceedings; Is it a Lion or Makara hilt?

Perhaps the solution is to look at both possibilities ~ maybe the result will be similar? I knew this would run into a brick wall as the idiosyncracies of caste in Sri Lanka have forced the issue and facts have been played with and history has been rewritten but we ought to continue unabated...without emotion and get to the truth.

The Makara,for me, is the inspiration behind the Kastane hilt and we are back to the question of when did it appear and who designed it?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Jim McDougall 12th October 2012 09:26 PM

Hi Ibrahiim.
Thank you for the kind words. It is great to continue working on the history of these fascinating hilts, which have always been held to represent the sinha or lion on the pommel, while the other zoomorphics on quillon and knuckleguard terminals typically are makara. I have always thought that this was because these other creatures, makara in particular, were effectively subordinate in the pantheons and dieties theologically and mythologically. With this being the case, I think the lion had been regally held in Sinhala from early times, and with the early invaders from the subcontinent.
Visually, as we know from the constant efforts of ethnologists and archaeologists and all students of worldwide cultures, it is often difficult to identify some of the extremely stylized and interpreted zoological and mythological creatures in material culture. There are of course many examples, but here we focus on most of these pommels, which have a curiously represented ruff around the neck, and while somewhat water creature looking, still I think are lions.

The early examples may reveal more once we find examples or more data, but for now I still think lion for the most part. I still wonder if variants could have makara though.

All the best,
Jim

Prasanna Weerakkody 13th October 2012 05:16 AM

Fernando- thanks for the Portuguese term for Patisthana =Partisana the similarity is striking it is practically the same word. also the use of the term “Lansa” in Sinhala texts for Lance/s establishes the trend well. The spears are never called Lansa in times before the Portuguese; so this is also attributed to the Portuguese. This would provide a strong context to having a Portuguese influence in the name Kasthana; though The origin and design of the sword need to be established outside of the source of its name. I am trying to find references to another term as there was a prince named “Asthana” a similar term. will update on this as it may modify our understanding of the word in question.

Jim- The design of the original “patissa” weapon is not well known except in text references and it is described as a Spear and sometimes as a throwing weapon. Its relation to the Indian “patissa” need to be established. In Sinhala pronunciation the “h” has emphasis hence my spelling it as Kasthana. (Kas-Tha-na).

Ibrahiim- Your points on use of Lion, Makara, figures of Palaces and Royal doorways in urinal stones is out of context. These urinal stones were used by the Buddhist priest hood with the idea that the worldly acquisitions, riches and are considered as worthless and ephemeral in the path to achieving Enlightenment. It does not reduce its value in a mundane context.

I tend to think that most of your sources originate from the website Karawa.org It is not a reliable source of reference and I hope you would use other sources. And please stop making hasty and unfounded (and erroneous ) remarks and judgments on the Sri Lankan culture and people.

Just read the “Mukkara hatana” (The Battle with the Mukkara people- essentially a minor “Hatan Kavya” text circa 1412 -1640AD.) and all your answers are there. It in essence speaks of the Sinhala King Parakramabahu VI summoning of the Karawa Mercenaries from South India to aid in the wars with the Mukkaru enemies in the Puttalam area. An army of 7740 soldiers arrive with 41 officers and service men, the manuscript goes on to describing the war, the provision of gifts including the flags and settlement of the Mercenaries in the coastal districts between Puttalam and Negombo a stretch of coastline North of Colombo. the Arrival of Portuguese, the joining of the Karawa with the Portuguese as Lascarins, the eventual defection of Karawa as they are impressed by the Bravery of the Sinhala King Raja Singhe I and the assistance provided to the King in facilitating the landing of Dutch forces against the Portuguese. All the names of the Karawa leaders who are supposed to have arrived are South Indian and NOT Sinhala including the names marked on the Swords presented by the King. Beyond this the vague assumptions of the link to Kuru (directly in Sri Lanka) or Kshathriya is difficult to sustain in the least. The Primary fighting men in the Sinhala Kingdom came from the Govigama and its precedent castes as they were the larger population as well as being less likely to be converted and support the enemy. But saying that the Caste system or values are far less strict or prejudicial in the Buddhist Sinhala context than the Hindu system.

Makara is a common and ancient motif in Sinhala art- and despite being present in the Karawa Banner its use and significance is far wider than that and is in no way restricted to Karawa. All I hope to establish is that 1. Karawa was not of sufficient prominence in the armies of the period to influence the design of the Kasthana which was far widely used. 2. The Use of Makara as a symbol is not limited to Karawa. hence the Karawa clan argument does not arise in the search for Kasthana origin. Also look at my earlier post for evidence from still living traditions of fighting arts who describe the Kasthana hilt as a Lion head.

Though I have shared this elsewhere in the forum I shall also include a Kasthana Sword gifted to a chief of the Mukkara clan by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe at a place close to Puttalam. This was also presented with three flags of honor: Hanuman Flag, Peacock Flag and the Lion Flag. (Similar to the Karawa being presented with the Ravana Flag, Ira handa (Sun and Moon) Flag[which incidentally is the Hathara Korale Flag-not clear what its relevance is to Karawa] and the Makara Flag. as said in the Mukkara hatana). Karawa was not special in receiving similar honors.

As far as I know there were no restrictions in carrying arms in public till time of British repression of Sinhalese in the 19th century.
:)

Prasanna Weerakkody 13th October 2012 05:18 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Sorry missed the attachments...
Flags and Kasthana presented to the Mukkara clan

M ELEY 13th October 2012 07:44 AM

Not to distract from the central thesis of the kastane lion vs Makara, but the lion symbols certainly date back to Ceylon's early history. Here's a thread to the so-called 'maneless lion' coins of the early kindom-

http://sirimunasiha.wordpress.com/2...less-lion-type/

-Mark

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 13th October 2012 10:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
Not to distract from the central thesis of the kastane lion vs Makara, but the lion symbols certainly date back to Ceylon's early history. Here's a thread to the so-called 'maneless lion' coins of the early kindom-

http://sirimunasiha.wordpress.com/2...less-lion-type/

-Mark


Salaams M Eley, I enjoyed going through the reference and noted the final paragraph from a reader..Quote "some people are of the opinion that these are not coins and if they are they don't belong the Island".Unquote

My mind says Makara as the design feature on the hilt of the Kastane. It spews deities all over the hilt. This is illustrated in the many architectural features of temples, flags etc as I have shown. Its not the big floppy headed pussy cat but the vicious Makara looking mythological figure of old. This is of course my opinion.

It alters the way I research the subject and others who believe its a cat can look at it through their own prism... who knows maybe the answer will turn out to be the same in the end?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 13th October 2012 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Fernando- thanks for the Portuguese term for Patisthana =Partisana the similarity is striking it is practically the same word. also the use of the term “Lansa” in Sinhala texts for Lance/s establishes the trend well. The spears are never called Lansa in times before the Portuguese; so this is also attributed to the Portuguese. This would provide a strong context to having a Portuguese influence in the name Kasthana; though The origin and design of the sword need to be established outside of the source of its name. I am trying to find references to another term as there was a prince named “Asthana” a similar term. will update on this as it may modify our understanding of the word in question.

Jim- The design of the original “patissa” weapon is not well known except in text references and it is described as a Spear and sometimes as a throwing weapon. Its relation to the Indian “patissa” need to be established. In Sinhala pronunciation the “h” has emphasis hence my spelling it as Kasthana. (Kas-Tha-na).

Ibrahiim- Your points on use of Lion, Makara, figures of Palaces and Royal doorways in urinal stones is out of context. These urinal stones were used by the Buddhist priest hood with the idea that the worldly acquisitions, riches and are considered as worthless and ephemeral in the path to achieving Enlightenment. It does not reduce its value in a mundane context.

I tend to think that most of your sources originate from the website Karawa.org It is not a reliable source of reference and I hope you would use other sources. And please stop making hasty and unfounded (and erroneous ) remarks and judgments on the Sri Lankan culture and people.

Just read the “Mukkara hatana” (The Battle with the Mukkara people- essentially a minor “Hatan Kavya” text circa 1412 -1640AD.) and all your answers are there. It in essence speaks of the Sinhala King Parakramabahu VI summoning of the Karawa Mercenaries from South India to aid in the wars with the Mukkaru enemies in the Puttalam area. An army of 7740 soldiers arrive with 41 officers and service men, the manuscript goes on to describing the war, the provision of gifts including the flags and settlement of the Mercenaries in the coastal districts between Puttalam and Negombo a stretch of coastline North of Colombo. the Arrival of Portuguese, the joining of the Karawa with the Portuguese as Lascarins, the eventual defection of Karawa as they are impressed by the Bravery of the Sinhala King Raja Singhe I and the assistance provided to the King in facilitating the landing of Dutch forces against the Portuguese. All the names of the Karawa leaders who are supposed to have arrived are South Indian and NOT Sinhala including the names marked on the Swords presented by the King. Beyond this the vague assumptions of the link to Kuru (directly in Sri Lanka) or Kshathriya is difficult to sustain in the least. The Primary fighting men in the Sinhala Kingdom came from the Govigama and its precedent castes as they were the larger population as well as being less likely to be converted and support the enemy. But saying that the Caste system or values are far less strict or prejudicial in the Buddhist Sinhala context than the Hindu system.

Makara is a common and ancient motif in Sinhala art- and despite being present in the Karawa Banner its use and significance is far wider than that and is in no way restricted to Karawa. All I hope to establish is that 1. Karawa was not of sufficient prominence in the armies of the period to influence the design of the Kasthana which was far widely used. 2. The Use of Makara as a symbol is not limited to Karawa. hence the Karawa clan argument does not arise in the search for Kasthana origin. Also look at my earlier post for evidence from still living traditions of fighting arts who describe the Kasthana hilt as a Lion head.

Though I have shared this elsewhere in the forum I shall also include a Kasthana Sword gifted to a chief of the Mukkara clan by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe at a place close to Puttalam. This was also presented with three flags of honor: Hanuman Flag, Peacock Flag and the Lion Flag. (Similar to the Karawa being presented with the Ravana Flag, Ira handa (Sun and Moon) Flag[which incidentally is the Hathara Korale Flag-not clear what its relevance is to Karawa] and the Makara Flag. as said in the Mukkara hatana). Karawa was not special in receiving similar honors.

As far as I know there were no restrictions in carrying arms in public till time of British repression of Sinhalese in the 19th century.
:)



Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody Thank you for posting the information which throws more light on the history of Sri Lanka especially the detail of the name "asthana"

Your last point is interesting since I believe their was a restriction on carrying arms. Nontheless your points are well received though regarding Quote "And please stop making hasty and unfounded (and erroneous ) remarks and judgments on the Sri Lankan culture and people'. Unquote I will make every effort to report the facts which you may or may not agree with but still ...report them I will. This is a free speaking forum. Naturally as always I shall be the first to identify if I have made a mistake for which to date I can safely say I have not.

Here are the twenty reasons which to me indicate that the Makara design was adopted as the Hilt style and since the Makara is also illustrated by all the Kastane Hilts seen so far on this thread and disgorging deities...which lions don't do~

1. Typically Makara are displayed disgorging other beasts (usually Nagas) e.g. On corner of a lintel on one of the towers surrounding the central pyramid at Bakong, Roluos, Cambodia.

2. Its symbolic representation in the form of a Makara head at the corner of temple roofs is as water element which also functions as a "rainwater spout or gargoyle". It is also seen as water spouts at the source of a springs. The artistic carving in stone is in the form of identical pair of Makaras flanked by two nagas (snake gods) along with a crown of Garuda, which is called the Kirthimukha face.

3. Such depictions are also seen at the entrance of wooden doorways as the top arch and also as a Torana behind Buddha’s images.

4. The Newa art of Nepal uses this depiction extensively. In Newar architecture, its depiction is; "as guardian of gateways, the Makara image appears on the curved prongs of the vast crossed-vajra that encompasses the four gateways of the two-dimensional mandala. Of the three dimensional-mandala this crossed-vajra supports the whole structure of the mandala palace symbolizing the immovable stability of the vajra-ground on which it stands."

5. Makaras are also a characteristic motif of the religious Khmer architecture of the Angkor region of Cambodia which was the capital of the Khmer Empire.

6.They are usually part of the decorative carving on a lintel, tympanum, or wall.

7. Makaras are usually depicted with another symbolic animals, such as a lion, naga or serpent, emerging from its gaping open mouth.

8. Makara are a central design motif in the beautiful lintels of the Roluos group of temples: Preah Ko, Bakong, and Lolei.

9. At Banteay Srei, carvings of Makaras disgorging other monsters were installed on many of the buildings' corners.


10. Makara is seen disgorging a lion-like creature on corner of a lintel on one of the towers) surrounding the central pyramid at Bakong, Roluos, Cambodia.

11. Its symbolic representation in the form of a Makara head at the corner of temple roofs is as water element which also functions as a "rainwater spout or gargoyle". It is also seen as water spouts at the source of a spring. The artistic carving in stone is in the form of identical pair of Makaras flanked by two Nagas (snake gods) along with a crown of Garuda, which is called the kirthimukha face.

12. Such depictions are also seen at the entrance of wooden doorways as the top arch and also as a Torana behind Buddha’s images.

13. Makara (Sanskrit: मकर) is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal (in the frontal part in animal forms of elephant or crocodile or stag, or deer) and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal. Sometimes, even a peacock tail is depicted.

14. It is the Vahana (vehicle) of the Ganga - the goddess of river Ganges (Ganga) and the sea god Varuna.

15.It is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva. Kamadeva is also known as Makaradhvaja (on whose flag a Makara is depicted) .

16.The Makara is the astrological sign of Capricorn, one of the twelve symbols of the Zodiac.

17. It is often portrayed protecting entryways to Hindu and Buddhist temples.

18. It is symbolized in ornaments are also in popular use as wedding gifts for bridal decoration.

19.The Hindu Preserver-god Vishnu is also shown wearing makara-shaped earrings called Makarakundalas.

20.The Sun God Surya and the Mother Goddess Chandi are also sometimes described as being adorned with Makarakundalas.

Finally I offer the fact that Makara were used to decorate other weapons including the two spiked axe in an earlier post.

In conclusion since the Kastane Hilt is almost always shown as a mythical monster disgorging other deities onto the hilt, knuckleguard and guard/quillon forms I offer the following " The Kastane hilt is steeped in history and takes its obvious monster format from the mythical Makara beast/ Deity of Sri Lankan ancient history, tradition and culture mirroring architectural and other examples outlined from 1 to 20 above."

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 13th October 2012 02:05 PM

2 Attachment(s)
My humble appologies, Prasana :o .
As already edited in my previous post, the correct spell in Partasana and not Partisana.
This word derives from Italian Partigiana folowed by Castillian Partesana.
And talking about correcteness, i would add that it is Lança and not Lansa. The 'ç' having an intense accentuation; it sounds like in 'tassle' and not like in 'easy'.
Concerning the Kasthane sword's facet, it is indeed possible to see out there diverse opinions; the extreme one pretending that this sword was put up due to European presence in Ceilão.
I still prefer the school that sees in the blade ricasso and in the 'false' lower quillons a Portuguese influence in the already existant type of sword; the same school that states that, at first, the Kastane was an actual combat weapon.
But then i must also convey that this source (after a phone call just made) does not face the probability of the term Kastane coming from the portuguese castão; instead more prepaired to consider the term's ethimology originating in the word Katana/Katane, as both swords have a sligtly curved single edgded blade.
It is also admitable that the Kastane began loosing its martial utility by the turning of the XVII-XVIII centuries, their purpose becoming a decorated court sword, reaching its 'jewel' status by the XIX-XX century.
Attached i post a picture of a Kastane of such late period, a piece of extreme luxury, worthy of a Muhandiram.
Its grip, guard and scabbard are in chiseled and sculpted silver. Partially inset with gold chiseled plates.The lion's tongue, mane and eyes are in gold ... these with rubies. In the center of the guard a gold makara.
The blade has two punctions (marks).
This sword was in auction in Lisbon by 1989 and its estimate sale price was 1 500 000 escudos ... which would correspond to nowadays 15 000 US Dollars. I ignore the price it reached.
The other picture shows a more plain example, also auctioned in the same day; this one dated XVI-XVII century, with a combat blade.


.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 13th October 2012 03:26 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Salaams~ Note to Forum~ see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makara_(Hindu_mythology)

In the picture below from the above reference is the Cambodian style Makara disgourging another beast similar to the face on some knuckleguards though appearing as it does "swallowing another beast" would normally be referred to as a Kirtimukha.

There is a beast commonly seen being disgourged and at my earlier post #14 picture 5,described in some circles as a half crocodile half humanoid figure and the face seen on Knuckleguards would be this ~ unless it was swallowing something ... in which case a Kirtimukha ....

The example at #56 picture 1 above looks like the humano -crocodile form "face" and appearing on the knuckleguard.

Where the exiting creatures are of the form serpents they are referred to as Nagas.

In the case of other Makara being spewed forth they may be viewed at the tail feathers as having peacock feathers... which is the case in many hilts including # 56 above.

All deities and monsters are seen in many formats pouring forth from the Makara and even a lion is depicted exiting a Makara mouth( not shown here) but so far as I can see, not the other way around..

The Hilt form therefor cannot be a lion form because lions don't throw out monsters in this way.

Makara, however, fits exactly.


Both shown below for ease of reference.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Jim McDougall 14th October 2012 01:37 AM

Absolutely outstanding material presented here everybody, and really exciting to see complete perspective on all these historical details. I had realized the history of the kastane was complex, but never the dimension with all of this fantastic history.
Prasanna, thank you so much for the information on the patissa as well as for the courteous and extremely informative replies.

Mark, thank you for the outstanding link, which reveals the apparantly long venerated lion as a symbolic figure in the island of Sri Lanka. It seems that archaeological evidence dramatically predates the development of the hilt of the kastane (thank you Prasanna also for the explanation of the 'h') and that its motif would reflect that Sinhalese tradition. The character of the zoomorphic head on the kastane is admittedly grotesque in nature, which would easily lead to varying perception to those outside their cultural sphere. I must admit that I have often had difficulty in recognizing and identifying makara, yali, and serapendiya alone in these contexts, so very much appreciate the explanations.

If I am understanding correctly, these creatures are typically in the nature of subordinate stature in these cultural holdings rather than having deities, and the lion is more of regal nature. It would seem that the hilt pommel would be in a paramount position with which a lion would be in accord.

Also, if I am understanding correctly, the Kandyan kingdom remained autonomous during colonial ventures there of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. They had the Royal workshops fashioning various weapons for thier courts and influential figures for some time.
I wonder if they made blades for swords, or used blades acquired from either trade or colonial entities. It seems that the production of the fine steel produced there ended largely around 13th century? Were the Arabs there colonially producing blades for weapons using the steel produced, or was that production completely defunct?

It seems that the entry of European blades into use for the now courtly type kastane must have been as discussed in 18th century, and the now elaborately hilted versions would have been less than combat worthy.
If the Kandyan kingdom remained autonomous, thier wearing of the kastane does not seem to me likely to be proscribed, and as status symbols of the type often worn by merchants and high ranking officials, court swords would seem regular accoutrements.

I just wanted to add my thoughts in this interesting discussion with probably more questions than useful observations, but its great to have such well faceted material to review in developing understanding on these.

Thank you guys!

Jim

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 15th October 2012 04:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Absolutely outstanding material presented here everybody, and really exciting to see complete perspective on all these historical details. I had realized the history of the kastane was complex, but never the dimension with all of this fantastic history.
Prasanna, thank you so much for the information on the patissa as well as for the courteous and extremely informative replies.

Mark, thank you for the outstanding link, which reveals the apparantly long venerated lion as a symbolic figure in the island of Sri Lanka. It seems that archaeological evidence dramatically predates the development of the hilt of the kastane (thank you Prasanna also for the explanation of the 'h') and that its motif would reflect that Sinhalese tradition. The character of the zoomorphic head on the kastane is admittedly grotesque in nature, which would easily lead to varying perception to those outside their cultural sphere. I must admit that I have often had difficulty in recognizing and identifying makara, yali, and serapendiya alone in these contexts, so very much appreciate the explanations.

If I am understanding correctly, these creatures are typically in the nature of subordinate stature in these cultural holdings rather than having deities, and the lion is more of regal nature. It would seem that the hilt pommel would be in a paramount position with which a lion would be in accord.

Also, if I am understanding correctly, the Kandyan kingdom remained autonomous during colonial ventures there of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. They had the Royal workshops fashioning various weapons for thier courts and influential figures for some time.
I wonder if they made blades for swords, or used blades acquired from either trade or colonial entities. It seems that the production of the fine steel produced there ended largely around 13th century? Were the Arabs there colonially producing blades for weapons using the steel produced, or was that production completely defunct?

It seems that the entry of European blades into use for the now courtly type kastane must have been as discussed in 18th century, and the now elaborately hilted versions would have been less than combat worthy.
If the Kandyan kingdom remained autonomous, thier wearing of the kastane does not seem to me likely to be proscribed, and as status symbols of the type often worn by merchants and high ranking officials, court swords would seem regular accoutrements.

I just wanted to add my thoughts in this interesting discussion with probably more questions than useful observations, but its great to have such well faceted material to review in developing understanding on these.

Thank you guys!

Jim



Salaams Jim ~ Previous Forum excursions into the world of Kastane barely got off the ground, however, I think this time it is fully launched and looking very good. What is especially useful is having a forumite on the ground in Sri Lanka and I hope the thread can develop with that in support. From my side I started delving into Kastane a year or two ago but could make little headway ~ not surprisingly considering the lack of fine detail and the clouding of the issue caused by belly dancer swords/ 3 separate invaders and of course the difficulty of being off the turf... so to speak.

My point of view is clear considering the more than 20 points noted earlier (see # 55) supporting the Makara as the Kastane hilt (They are vital points proving the historical, cultural background and the absolute and overwhelming evidence of the Makara style of other Deities pouring forth onto the hilt.)

Simply put~ The Lion doesn't have other deities or beasts emanating from its mouth. Lions swallow things! they don't vomit up deities... The Makara does. In the case of the spewed out other mini Makara flowing onto the cross guard and lower knuckle guard they can be seen with peacock tails in the traditional Makara way. The little face on the knuckle guard is probably the half crocodile half human form, once again, absolutely Makara linked. (see # 56 first photo by fernando and compare it with the little face on #57 second picture by me) and of course view in #56 the other monsters that have poured forth ~

The actual head of the hilt is a direct likeness of the Makara in all respects and is of the famous mythical sea creature in all its glory.

The lion whilst it is part of the cultural and traditional history of Sri Lanka is not the beast from which the Kastana hilt is designed, though, it may have other, poignant, separate historical issues attached to it ~ as does the Elephant and the Sun and Moon theme...etc etc but it (the Lion) has no bearing at all upon the Kastane hilt.

It may seem pedantic to some, irksome to others and totally bewildering to many but the point needs clarification because in researching in the timezone of the 15th, 16th and 17th Century Sri Lanka; looking at Makara influence is a whole lot different to the detective work on Lions and the result will be skewered and off track if we make a mistake on this important identity conundrum.

I therefor submit that the Kastane Hilt is of Makara design.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 16th October 2012 07:06 PM

Kastana Timeline.
 
Salaams Note to Forum~ For the first time I observe an authoritative note on the appearance of the Kastane (Kastahane) with a timeline.

From the web I submit the following;

Quote ''Sinhala Weapons and Armor: Adaptation in Response to European Style Warfare Weerakkody P1 and Nanayakkara A 2

The study examines the Weapons and Armor used by respectively the Sinhalese andthe Portuguese forces during the 16th and 17th
Centuries. The paper posits that the weapons of both combatants evolved in response to each other taking into account also developments abroad. The study is primarily based on observation and comparison of specimens in museums, private collections and illustrations from temple art, contemporary European art and literature.

By the time Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka the European armies had phased out the heavy armor used by the knights and were beginning to adopt the somewhat lighter“ cuirassier” armor which was used in Sri Lanka at the earlier part of the Portuguese wars.

With the arrival of the Portuguese the Sinhala armies were faced with a heavier armored opponent who increasingly relied more on the newly emerging firearms of the period. The emergence of hand held fire arms during the early 16th century was changing the face of warfare through out the world. The adaptation of the gun by the Sinhalese and their proficiency in both use and manufacture of firearms forced the Europeans to re-adopt and played a role in the demise of heavy armor in the battlefield.

(It is more probable that the Sinhalese first adopted the gun from the Arabs than the Europeans. It is likely that there were more than one school of gun manufacture in Sri Lanka.)

The existence of molded shaped Sinhala spearheads with post apical grooving and arrow points with hardened tips suggest design adaptations which are more suited to the function as armor piercing weapons. The need for such weapons arose out the use of heavy armor during the 16th century and it is highly probable that these adaptations originated during this period.

Several new weapons including the “Patisthana” spear, “Kasthana” sword “Ath-thuwakku/Bondikula hand guns and the “Kodithuwakku” Grass hopper canon was added to the Sinhala armory during this era.

The Study also looks at the evidence for the use of body armor by the Sinhalese". Unquote.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


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