Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Jim McDougall 16th October 2012 09:50 PM

Excellent, references here seem to be addressing the period of the Sinhalese-Portuguese wars of 1520-21, and with the mention of kasthana sword. It does seem though that these accounts are based on 17th century writers material so we cannot be sure if the term was used contemporarily or whether it had been in place that early.
It still seems the lionhead kastane's earliest terminus ante quem remains set with the example in Tokyo acquired in 1622 embassy. Dereniyagala (1942) seems to be off in his estimation of its appearance, but is accurate in noting the courtly rather than combat effective nature of these; "...in 18th century when the curved, scimitar blade with lions head comes into fashion.
The development of the ceremonial sword of rank soon unfitted it for fighting purposes as the elaborate crest to the lion headed hilt comes into uncomfortable contact with the heel of the users hand or wrist while it is also signoficant that swords so ornamented generally appear too small for war, unlike the larger ones which have no crests" (p.113).

Kandy remained independant, while Kotte in the southwest had been in degree in league wth the Portuguese in trade until disagreements led to wars and unrest. As I understand the Dutch aligned with the King of Kandy around 1636, and by 1658 the Portuguese had left Ceylon. Naturally these colonial circumstances are described briefly and only to note presence and period.

Though the Dutch regal lion became a heraldic symbol after the Union of Utrecht in 1574, and was certainly possible as influence, I remain convinced however that the lion was well emplaced symbolically in Ceylon from quite early times, the 5th century Sigiriya (lion rock citadel) as one instance.

The French traveller Pyrad de Lavel (1605) expressed unqualified admiration of Sri Lankan workmanship in metals, and especially in the fabrication and ornamentation of arms.
Deraniyagala (op.cit.p.99) notes, "...the Dutch plan of the Royal Palace at Kandy in 1765 shows armouries for different types of weapons, and quarters for the armourers, proves the great attention paid to weapons by Sinhala royalty", further noting the auspicious placement of lions among others as decoration.
This author (p.110) describing the pihaya kattha "...in the more primitive types the pommel is unadorned, in others it is a lions head, while in the final form it is a floral scroll issuing from the lions mouth".

If I interpret these references correctly, it would seem that the Kandy workshops were long established, as noted in the Dutch observation of 1765.It would seem that the lions head was likely present on the early forms of pihaya kattha which was more an accoutrement than of course fighting weapon. We know that the kastane is presumed in form by c.1620 and the term kasthane in use for it or some type of sword c.1605. By the 18th century it had become regarded as a courtly sword ,though the smaller hanger type blade on the 1622 example in Japan and hilt suggests earlier.
The numerous examples of kastane with Dutch VOC blades suggest the circumstances in which Kandy existed within the Dutch colony in the 18th century. Many of these blades are dated, mostly 1760s it seems. The lionhead hilt would seem to have been adopted from its presence on the smaller weapons worn in courtly and status oriented examples and to the hanger blade court swords at around beginning of 17th century.

Prasanna Weerakkody 17th October 2012 03:01 AM

1 Attachment(s)
It is difficult to locate the earliest records of the true Kasthana Swords. but my personal belief is that it is earlier than presumed. I am including an image of a Kasthana presented by Prince Tikiri leading the Sinhala army (at age 16); Who Later became King Rajasinghe I to the Arachchi of the Korathota “Angam” fighters. The Korathota warriors mounted a flanking attack on the Portuguese in the major battle in the Fields of Mulleriyawela in 1559. This Battle was a decisive Battle with one of the worst defeats to the Portuguese with near annihilation of its troops. The Sword still survives in the Family as a heirloom. and if this reference is accepted this will push the earliest record of the Kasthana to mid 16th Century. There are other similar records as well. As I mentioned before there is a proper Kasthana sword in the Colombo Museum that is believed to be of King Buwanekabahu I of Yapahuwa Kingdom which predates the Kotte and Sithawaka Kingdoms. (Though I am not convinced of the authenticity of this piece based on the portrayal of design elements which point to a later date.)

And Thank you Balushi for including the summery of my Presentation to the workshop on the “Portuguese Encounter” held in 2005.

Best regards.

kai 17th October 2012 06:28 AM

Hello Prasanna,

Thanks for posting that beauty! Any chance to obtain permission to post more pics of this sword (possibly in a seperate thread)?

It looks like the hilt is carved from wood (or horn?) with only a few metal highlights - very nice!

In a tropical climate, this state of preservation would be exceptional for an over 450y old pommel, even considering it being a heirloom piece!

Regards,
Kai

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 18th October 2012 08:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
It is difficult to locate the earliest records of the true Kasthana Swords. but my personal belief is that it is earlier than presumed. I am including an image of a Kasthana presented by Prince Tikiri leading the Sinhala army (at age 16); Who Later became King Rajasinghe I to the Arachchi of the Korathota “Angam” fighters. The Korathota warriors mounted a flanking attack on the Portuguese in the major battle in the Fields of Mulleriyawela in 1559. This Battle was a decisive Battle with one of the worst defeats to the Portuguese with near annihilation of its troops. The Sword still survives in the Family as a heirloom. and if this reference is accepted this will push the earliest record of the Kasthana to mid 16th Century. There are other similar records as well. As I mentioned before there is a proper Kasthana sword in the Colombo Museum that is believed to be of King Buwanekabahu I of Yapahuwa Kingdom which predates the Kotte and Sithawaka Kingdoms. (Though I am not convinced of the authenticity of this piece based on the portrayal of design elements which point to a later date.)

And Thank you Balushi for including the summery of my Presentation to the workshop on the “Portuguese Encounter” held in 2005.

Best regards.



Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody~ Always a pleasure to quote a decent reference... You refer to Quote ''Sinhala Weapons and Armor: Adaptation in Response to European Style Warfare Weerakkody P1 and Nanayakkara A 2 Unquote.

I also viewed your artwork website and clearly you have a vast interest in the subject. I absolutely agree that we should be looking at pre Portuguese timeline for the origin of the Kastane. The point being (as I see it) that Sri Lankan Kingdoms were not likely to adopt a foreign inspired weapon with a Sri Lankan style to it. It simply doesn't add up. Why would they do this if there was such conflict between the two?(Generally they hated the Portuguese invaders) I think the Kastana is a purely Sri Lankan invention though I disagree with the hilt design origin. I think it is from The Makara.
Where the Forum wins, however, is in having a specialist in Sri Lanka so that we may build a clearer picture of this swords history.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 18th October 2012 04:24 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Salaams~ Pictorial note to Library.
See http://www.luxury-thailand-travel.com/makara.html

Pictures below showing;
1. The Kastane Hilt.
2. A Buddhist Temple in Thailand showing " Makara." Please note the neck detail.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 18th October 2012 05:51 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Hi Jim,
Good catch on the Pyrard de Laval quotation. Actually a more complete approach may be read in his integral work, where he says:

These Chingalas are very propper for mechanical arts and they work very subtly and delicately in gold, silver, iron and steel, with great perfection, in ivory and other materials. They fabricate all sort of arms, lique arquebuses, swords, pikes and bucklers, which are the more well made and esteemed in all India... I never thought they would be so exquisite in well fabricating arquebuses and other arms, elaborated and ornated, which are the nicest made around here.

We also know that, as probably already mentioned here, the city of Colombo specialized in fine matchlock muskets, which were exported to several other islands.

Attached we see pictures of three matchlock muskets ...
The first one a Portuguese-Shingalese example, still made in the XVI century, with a Portuguese barrel. Total length 170 cms.
The second one Shingalese example of great dimensions (195 cms). Dated XVII-XVIII century, it follows in all the model introduced by the Portuguese in 1505.
The third one (sorry the poor pictures) a fine Shingalese example from the XVIII century, with its typical bifurcated butt stock.

(Rainer Daehnhardt collection).

.

Jim McDougall 19th October 2012 02:32 AM

Thanks Fernando,
I wanted to point out the stature of Sinhalese arms production at about the time of Portuguese arrival, and it seems that they were already fairly well established and suggestions that perhaps Chinese contact earlier may have been the source for thier production. Clearly the joint results enhanced an already well reputed craftsmanship as far as firearms in some degree.
I dont believe any influence is evident for the kastane from Portuguese or European sources, though I think that there were varying alignments between different kingdoms and them overall.

All the best,
jim

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 19th October 2012 01:25 PM

Kastane and Gun with Makara designs.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Jim,
Good catch on the Pyrard de Laval quotation. Actually a more complete approach may be read in his integral work, where he says:

These Chingalas are very propper for mechanical arts and they work very subtly and delicately in gold, silver, iron and steel, with great perfection, in ivory and other materials. They fabricate all sort of arms, lique arquebuses, swords, pikes and bucklers, which are the more well made and esteemed in all India... I never thought they would be so exquisite in well fabricating arquebuses and other arms, elaborated and ornated, which are the nicest made around here.

We also know that, as probably already mentioned here, the city of Colombo specialized in fine matchlock muskets, which were exported to several other islands.

Attached we see pictures of three matchlock muskets ...
The first one a Portuguese-Shingalese example, still made in the XVI century, with a Portuguese barrel. Total length 170 cms.
The second one Shingalese example of great dimensions (195 cms). Dated XVII-XVIII century, it follows in all the model introduced by the Portuguese in 1505.
The third one (sorry the poor pictures) a fine Shingalese example from the XVIII century, with its typical bifurcated butt stock.

(Rainer Daehnhardt collection).

.



Salaams fernando~ On the face of it (excuse the pun) one would not normally expect to see a design reference similarity on a firearm and a sword~ but there it is (#66 photo 2)...on the lock the jaws and head of a Makara. In this case not breathing other serpents into the pan; but fire.
Salaams,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Prasanna Weerakkody 20th October 2012 02:22 PM

Kai, I will try to get a set of additional images of the sword with the permission of the owner. Hilt as you say is horn and guards all of steel with brass inlay work. There are many swords surviving specially in Buddhist and Hindu temples that are said to be weapons gifted by King Rajasinghe I post to war victories. very few of these are Kasthana, with most being captured Portuguese swords. But this may indicate the possibility of a piece surviving under protected conditions.

Thank you Balooshi for the complements.

Fernando, Great to see these guns; though there are many examples of the “Bondikula” type guns around (the last one in your collection) I have not seen any similar to the two earlier pieces. curiously the ornamentation of these does not entirely follow Sinhala traditional motifs… even the scroll work on the Makara head on the lock etc seem to be a little away from the usual form. Hope you could let know where this collection is from.

There are text references to Fire or gun powder weapons in use 1-2 centuries prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka. The form of the weapon is not known and may indicate a rocket type weapon instead of a gun. In the text “Kandauru siritha” (Order of the Camp) there is a reference to a battle which commences by the simultaneous firing of 400 “Wedi” meaning Gunfire/Artillery or any weapon using Gun powder.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 20th October 2012 03:30 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Kai, I will try to get a set of additional images of the sword with the permission of the owner. Hilt as you say is horn and guards all of steel with brass inlay work. There are many swords surviving specially in Buddhist and Hindu temples that are said to be weapons gifted by King Rajasinghe I post to war victories. very few of these are Kasthana, with most being captured Portuguese swords. But this may indicate the possibility of a piece surviving under protected conditions.

Thank you Balooshi for the complements.

Fernando, Great to see these guns; though there are many examples of the “Bondikula” type guns around (the last one in your collection) I have not seen any similar to the two earlier pieces. curiously the ornamentation of these does not entirely follow Sinhala traditional motifs… even the scroll work on the Makara head on the lock etc seem to be a little away from the usual form. Hope you could let know where this collection is from.

There are text references to Fire or gun powder weapons in use 1-2 centuries prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka. The form of the weapon is not known and may indicate a rocket type weapon instead of a gun. In the text “Kandauru siritha” (Order of the Camp) there is a reference to a battle which commences by the simultaneous firing of 400 “Wedi” meaning Gunfire/Artillery or any weapon using Gun powder.


Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody ~ Well if the Bondikula have Makara heads on the locks which are pretty well identical to those on the hilt of the Kastane ... and reflected in the two headed axe earlier as well as every picture of Kastanes so far... does that mean we are searching for this motif (The Makara) and not the Lion ?

Fernando ~ Your excellent references pose a problem, since, it more or less indicates that Portuguese and Sri Lankan workshops were working together to produce weapons and in a definable time slot. In doing so is it not feasible that they also combined decorative techniques as shown by your fine pictures of the guns with Makara locks?

If that is indeed the case we have a pointer to the possible "combined construction" of other weapons including Kastane which is interesting (even if it does mean that we are at full circle in determining more closely the origins of that sword, though, now with a completely balanced set of parameters).

Obviously, since The Portuguese were supported by a large section of the Sri Lankan fighters (coercing mercenaries was a very major part of the Portuguese "modus opperandi" ) it is entirely possible that this craftsmanship liaison could have occurred well prior to their late 17th C dominance. Target range mid to late 16th C perhaps?

Thus we may have a time zone;the mid to late 16th C. and a specific style to search for; Incorporating The Makara Hilt through a liaison between craftsmen; Portuguese and Sri Lankan.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 20th October 2012 06:21 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
... Fernando, Great to see these guns; though there are many examples of the “Bondikula” type guns around (the last one in your collection) I have not seen any similar to the two earlier pieces. curiously the ornamentation of these does not entirely follow Sinhala traditional motifs… even the scroll work on the Makara head on the lock etc seem to be a little away from the usual form. Hope you could let know where this collection is from..

As i referenced in my post, those examples belong in the collection of German/Portuguese collector and arms historian Rainer Daehnhardt. He has written a few books approaching arms and armour from the Portuguese discoveries period/route and is the person i phoned to seek information on the portuguese influences in the kaskara.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
... There are text references to Fire or gun powder weapons in use 1-2 centuries prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka. The form of the weapon is not known and may indicate a rocket type weapon instead of a gun. In the text “Kandauru siritha” (Order of the Camp) there is a reference to a battle which commences by the simultaneous firing of 400 “Wedi” meaning Gunfire/Artillery or any weapon using Gun powder.

Quite plausible. Not surprising if Chinese brought over 'hand gonnes' and Indians followed by Arabs provided development of fire guns in Ceilão.
Also to consider that, in the field of metalurgy, one of the earliest evidences of iron metalurgy was found in the area de Samanalawewa.
I bet you would know the work of Portuguese Captain João Ribeiro translated as The Historical Fatality of the Island of Ceylon, which memories he sent the King in 1685, where he gives account that Sinhalese war people used following arms;
Short swords of two and half palms (spans) which they called calachurros. The soldiers are Lascarins, some lancers with eighteen palms lances, some others musketeers, being rather sharp shooters; assuming these are not stone (flintlock?) but cord (matchlock?), they have spring as if they were. Others are archers and very good in that. Some bring muskets with eight palm barrels and forty pounds weight, shooting four ounce bullets. However they don't shoot them against their chest but have in the forearm two legs with one côvado (45 cms.)length ... they call these standing muskets ....

The most intriguing of these weapons is what they called calachurros, a term potentialy 'moulded' into portuguese, which i wonder if you Prasanna would familiar with, as to know its actual Sinhalese term and actual weapon model.

Just for fun a couple pictures of a beautiful Cingalo-Portuguese 'espingardão' (long gun) kept in the Metropolitan museum. Contrary to Jawa and Japan where in principle only matchlock models were copied, Goese and Sinhalese gun smiths also reproduced the so called Anselmo lock.

.

Prasanna Weerakkody 21st October 2012 03:58 AM

Balooshi, Use of Makara is widespread in Sinhala art and it even appears commonly in the secondary motifs in the Kasthana. But the Hilt of the Kasthana is a lion head. If you take some time and may be look at my earlier base line in differentiating the Lion, Makara and Serapendiya heads you may start seeing the subtle differences in each. I know it is not clear to someone not used to the forms used by the Sinhala artists - I too had problems with these for a long time while studying Sinhala art history. Also the Lion head appears in two primary forms with a highly modified -grotesque form with a rounded knob-like canine tooth which represent early types with links to design elements akin to the Yapahuwa Kingdom Lion (Pre-Kotte), and the latter Lion heads that are influenced by the Europeanized Lion motifs with normal teeth.

You are correct in assuming the combined workshops. The Last Sinhala throne (which is now in the Colombo Museum) is a good example. The throne was a gift to the King from the Dutch and show Both Sinhala and Europeanized motifs. The workmen guilds within the Sinhala Kingdoms would stay true to Sinhala cultural system and motifs while workshops in the areas controlled by the Portuguese and Dutch areas seem to have produces many un-usual pieces.

Fernando- sorry I missed the reference in your earlier post, but the additional info is welcome. The issue about the Calachurros is something that had intrigued me for a while. The Sinhala swords are traditionally called “Kaduwa, Kagga, , Asi, Asi-patha etc. or does it mean there were a class of weapons at the time with a separate name in use that lead to the Kasthana; which may be the basis for Calachurro. still not clear of the affinities of the term. The short two and half palm sword may refer to a Roman Gladius type weapon commonly illustrated in temple art or a Kasthana as it fits the size of most examples. In the 14th century text “Dambadeni Asna” there is a list of 26 sword types carried in to battle- 10 of these are imported swords from countries including Indian, Javanese, Malay and Chinese. Among others the Short swords are listed as “Luhundu Kadu” and Curved bladed swords as “Wak Kadu”. Kasthana is not listed. -- And thanks again for the amazing gun image.

Also to note that a paper on the possible transitional sword I mentioned earlier is published in the “Ancient Swords, Daggers and knives in the Sri Lankan Museums” book I listed at the beginning of this thread.

Regards
Prasanna

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 21st October 2012 03:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Balooshi, Use of Makara is widespread in Sinhala art and it even appears commonly in the secondary motifs in the Kasthana. But the Hilt of the Kasthana is a lion head. If you take some time and may be look at my earlier base line in differentiating the Lion, Makara and Serapendiya heads you may start seeing the subtle differences in each. I know it is not clear to someone not used to the forms used by the Sinhala artists - I too had problems with these for a long time while studying Sinhala art history. Also the Lion head appears in two primary forms with a highly modified -grotesque form with a rounded knob-like canine tooth which represent early types with links to design elements akin to the Yapahuwa Kingdom Lion (Pre-Kotte), and the latter Lion heads that are influenced by the Europeanized Lion motifs with normal teeth.

You are correct in assuming the combined workshops. The Last Sinhala throne (which is now in the Colombo Museum) is a good example. The throne was a gift to the King from the Dutch and show Both Sinhala and Europeanized motifs. The workmen guilds within the Sinhala Kingdoms would stay true to Sinhala cultural system and motifs while workshops in the areas controlled by the Portuguese and Dutch areas seem to have produces many un-usual pieces.

Fernando- sorry I missed the reference in your earlier post, but the additional info is welcome. The issue about the Calachurros is something that had intrigued me for a while. The Sinhala swords are traditionally called “Kaduwa, Kagga, , Asi, Asi-patha etc. or does it mean there were a class of weapons at the time with a separate name in use that lead to the Kasthana; which may be the basis for Calachurro. still not clear of the affinities of the term. The short two and half palm sword may refer to a Roman Gladius type weapon commonly illustrated in temple art or a Kasthana as it fits the size of most examples. In the 14th century text “Dambadeni Asna” there is a list of 26 sword types carried in to battle- 10 of these are imported swords from countries including Indian, Javanese, Malay and Chinese. Among others the Short swords are listed as “Luhundu Kadu” and Curved bladed swords as “Wak Kadu”. Kasthana is not listed. -- And thanks again for the amazing gun image.

Also to note that a paper on the possible transitional sword I mentioned earlier is published in the “Ancient Swords, Daggers and knives in the Sri Lankan Museums” book I listed at the beginning of this thread.

Regards
Prasanna



Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody ~ Thank you for the post. The difficulty I have is multi-facetted (rather like the problem).

The hilt is Makara. It breathes other deities onto the hilt in the proper manner for a Makara. These deities appear to be either Nagas (serpents/snakes) or smaller Makara and as shown by the little face which appears to be the half human half crocodile on the knuckleguard at Fernandos post at #56, once again, only released by Makara (FROM ITS MOUTH) and as seen coming from the Makara mouth at #57 photo 2; not from a Lions mouth.

The tails of the supporting other creatures appears as peacock designs and falls in line with Makara tail design... and which you agree are small Makara. These Makara deities do not emanate from lions mouths.

The Lion motif, on the other hand, can also be seen in the jaws of a Makara on architectural forms. I believe therefor that the Kastane Hilt is a Makara. Rounded or sharp teeth make no difference. It may be down to artistic impression but the form is The Mythological sea monster; Makara not Lion. See #25,39,52,62 65... etc

I use the example of the gun lock and the earlier axe plus the so far illustrated Kastane Hilts to demonstrate my observations.

It therefor transpires that research into the Kastane Makara hilt must be observed during the build up and possibly before the Portuguese position in the late 17th C.

I agree with the essential theory that there were joint workshops in those areas where Portuguese and Sri Lankan craftsmen were integrated and that in other areas pure Sri Lankan design must have prevailed.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 21st October 2012 04:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
... Kai, I will try to get a set of additional images of the sword with the permission of the owner....

A picture showing the lower part of the guard will be so much important; to check on the presumed Portuguese influences ... you know, the lower quillons bending in a closed arch towards to the blade .

fernando 21st October 2012 05:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
As i referenced in my post, those examples belong in the collection of German/Portuguese collector and arms historian Rainer Daehnhardt. He has written a few books approaching arms and armour from the Portuguese discoveries period/route and is the person i phoned to seek information on the portuguese influences in the kaskara ...

The same author that has no doubts in mentioning that the kaskara pommel is a lion. See my post #56 ... tongue, mane and all.

Prasanna Weerakkody 23rd October 2012 11:14 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Balooshi, Including two images of Sinhala Lions with floral motifs emerging from the mouth. They are not Makara; as the body clearly is of a Lion not Makara.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 23rd October 2012 04:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Balooshi, Including two images of Sinhala Lions with floral motifs emerging from the mouth. They are not Makara; as the body clearly is of a Lion not Makara.


Salaams Weerakkody ~ Nice Lions. They are however not breathing Deities or monsters. The stuff coming from their mouths is floral.

Makara breath monsters... Nagas (snakes or serpents) and the half crocodile, half human form variously as seen at almost every Kastane hilt and related picture on this thread. These sub-monster-deity forms include the often portrayed minor Makara sliding down the knuckle guard and onto the finger-ring like quilons and in addition displaying fan tails of the peacock... The Peacock fantail is yet another Makara indicator. (see #56.)

Makara are shown on the gun lock jaws, the axe, and the Kastane.

I put it to you that your Lions are late additions and unrelated to the Kastane Hilt which is of Makara form. In later forms perhaps post 18th Century I imagine artistic impression may have blended the two heads on certain projects though I urge that what we ought to be focusing upon is the original style Kastane hilt ...The Makara.

As a note to Forum I point to http://www.caravanacollection.com/?...t=kastane-sword (look also under Collection)where the author quite neatly describes the hilt as Makara and goes further to state the similarity of the guard with Mediterranean weapons previously not seen on Far Eastern sword styles and puts a 16th C. dateline to the mixture. I tend to agree with much of that.

Thus it is with the Portuguese/ Sri Lankan combined workshops that I focus.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Prasanna Weerakkody 24th October 2012 02:35 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Balooshi as I have noted in one of my earlier posts, the predominant Makara form in Sinhala art of the period emanates floral rather than animal motifs from its mouth. Including a few example images for reference.

Also the issue is not about the occurrence of Makara forms in the Guards etc. but the primary figure on the pommel Which is commonly accepted as a Lion head. - I cannot recollect seeing any figures portrayed on the Pommel depicted with other figures originating from its mouth except an extended tongue. If you got references to it pl. share.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 24th October 2012 08:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Balooshi as I have noted in one of my earlier posts, the predominant Makara form in Sinhala art of the period emanates floral rather than animal motifs from its mouth. Including a few example images for reference.

Also the issue is not about the occurrence of Makara forms in the Guards etc. but the primary figure on the pommel Which is commonly accepted as a Lion head. - I cannot recollect seeing any figures portrayed on the Pommel depicted with other figures originating from its mouth except an extended tongue. If you got references to it pl. share.



Salaams Weerakkody, 3 out of 4 of your photos show Makara having spilled out the Kirtimukha monster (itself normally seen, as it is here, on all 3 photos, devouring other monsters) and usually displayed at the top of the archway designs.This has been dealt with in # 57.

The 4th picture which is more difficult to analyze appears as a grey looking Makara rolling out a huge long curled serpent with fiery decoration or waves or other minor monsters engraved on it though it is difficult to deduce.

The floral additions that accompany the emission of deities and monsters in your pictures are secondary to the main theme... The Makara spews up primarily monsters and deities. The floral tributes are as a secondary, less important, added design feature.

If the Lion were the source upon the Kastane Hilt the accompanying main theme on the hilt would be floral... Its not..It is deities and other monsters because the hilt is a Makara design. Any flowery aspect on the Hilt is purely supporting but secondary to the main theme.

The Hilt, The KnuckleGuard, The Quillons and The Cross Guard are of one linked style. The Makara head at the Pommel pumps the half crocodile human "face" onto the mid Knuckleguard and minor Makara onto the Knuckleguard top and base plus Makara and Nagas onto the Quillons and crossguard. The tails illustrated are peacock form. Some secondary, quite flimsy, floral work usually appears on the grip and /or extends down the throat.

Therefor i would advise against separating the pommel decoration from the rest of the Hilt. The theme is the same ... Makara.

Best example ~See # 56.

Makara not Lion.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Note; see http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=kastane for an unusual Knuckleguard with what appears to be a serpent(Naga) sliding up the Knuckleguard; in gold.

fernando 24th October 2012 04:08 PM

Just a footnote
 
Dr. Jorge Caravana, a medical surgeon, started collecting antique arms & armour by 1998 and in 2009 he organized an exhibition in the Portuguese city of Évora. An actractive catalogue was then published, composed by the collection and vast texts covering the places touched by the Portuguese, namely an introduction by historian Rui Manuel Loureiro and thematic material like an article on Indian Weaponry Goldsmiths by Nuno Vassalo e Silva, another on Persian swordmakers by Manouchehr Khorasani and even another on Islamic Arms and Armour by Robert Elgood. Eventualy i have acquired one copy and, having posted its reference in the forum, i was required by several members to send them a copy.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=caravana.
The collection is composed of Oriental items associated with the Portuguese expansion during the discoveries period, a theme adviced by Collector/Historian Rainer Daehnhardt, from whim he acquired his first examples in 1998.
In the case of Ceylon, not much data is referenced and only four examples are present in the collection, being one of them an XVIII century Kastane. The description of this example includes, besides its visual details, the interpretation of its origin as a weapon, not a scholar assumption by Dr. Caravana but one more based on the classics that are published out there, which he promptly mentions below the sword support text; among others, Cameron Stone, from whom apparently he brought the pommel 'monster's head' idea and, from another (Czerny's, Rickets ?), the version of the Kastane origin being connected with European contacts in the XVI century, a presumption rather more doubtful than being an earlier sword, later suffering European (Portuguese) influences. I don't think that Dr. Caravana's third party quotations are more accountable than just that: quotations ... not personal qualified evidence.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 24th October 2012 04:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Dr. Jorge Caravana, a medical surgeon, started collecting antique arms & armour by 1998 and in 2009 he organized an exhibition in the Portuguese city of Évora. An actractive catalogue was then published, composed by the collection and vast texts covering the places touched by the Portuguese, namely an introduction by historian Rui Manuel Loureiro and thematic material like an article on Indian Weaponry Goldsmiths by Nuno Vassalo e Silva, another on Persian swordmakers by Manouchehr Khorasani and even another on Islamic Arms and Armour by Robert Elgood. Eventualy i have acquired one copy and, having posted its reference in the forum, i was required by several members to send them a copy.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...hlight=caravana.
The collection is composed of Oriental items associated with the Portuguese expansion during the discoveries period, a theme adviced by Collector/Historian Rainer Daehnhardt, from whim he acquired his first examples in 1998.
In the case of Ceylon, not much data is referenced and only four examples are present in the collection, being one of them an XVIII century Kastane. The description of this example includes, besides its visual details, the interpretation of its origin as a weapon, not a scholar assumption by Dr. Caravana but one more based on the classics that are published out there, which he promptly mentions below the sword support text; among others, Cameron Stone, from whom apparently he brought the pommel 'monster's head' idea and, from another (Czerny's, Rickets ?), the version of the Kastane origin being connected with European contacts in the XVI century, a presumption rather more doubtful than being an earlier sword, later suffering European (Portuguese) influences. I don't think that Dr. Caravana's third party quotations are more accountable than just that: quotations ... not personal qualified evidence.


Salaams fernando ~Excellent input. The book detail is superb.and your pictures of the gun lock and supporting Kastane photographs have been an inspiration.
Is there any documentation which can be extracted from the publication you mention which may be logged here in the interests of research? This could indeed be supporting evidence on the theory that the Kastane was a Portuguese-Sri Lankan designed sword probably 16th Century with, it seems, a Mediterranean hilt style co-staring with a Makara pommel and incorporating other deitys and monsters on the Knuckle Guard and Quillons etc.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 24th October 2012 06:38 PM

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Hi Prasanna
I (re) found something very interesting; wonder if you were already aware of this.
Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, a specialist who has previously published a work in Indo-Portuguese Dialect of Celyon, has published in 1919-1921 the Glossario Luso-Asiatico.

BOOK

In page 178 you can read the following, which i (sort of ) translated:

.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 25th October 2012 02:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by KuKulzA28
Hello! I've been curious about Sinhala swords... There doesn't seem to be as much information of Sri Lankan arms on this forum as there is on say Indo-Persian, European, Moro, and others. All I found were a few threads about Piha Kaetta and Kastane.

Does anyone have knowledge and/or sources on Sinhala weaponry especially swords? Anyone actually own examples?

Aside from kastane, the few images I have seen are from the angampora website which shows "urumi"-like flexible blades and also rustic looking sabers/cutlasses with simple guards and wooden cylindrical grips.

I have little to no knowledge of Sinhala swords and other weapons, so I was hoping maybe some EAA Forum members would have knowledge on this matter.

Thanks! :)


Salaams KuKulzA28 ~ I hope you find the thread interesting so far. Any input you might have would be useful... and that goes for all our Forum friends and any onlookers ~ (who I urge to join ! ) Kind Regards.
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

fernando 25th October 2012 03:13 PM

Thanks for playing the forum host, Ibrahiim; i wouldn't do it better myself !!

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 25th October 2012 03:52 PM

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Salaams ~ Note to Forum.

In order to focus on the possibility of Portuguese Sri Lankan 15th 16th and 17th Century sword making style it is possible, looking at the Kastane style, that some influence is there from the Jineta design. The apparent finger ring / turned down quillons may be a direct take off in that regard though they seem only decorative. Certainly lavish decorated quillons would add to the weapon being adopted in the role as a court sword rather than a fighting weapon. This is unclear. The problem being that blade length varied enormously.

Could some have been court sword and others weapons?

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Note; See # 10 on http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=6768

Prasanna Weerakkody 26th October 2012 09:12 AM

Balooshi -All images I presented (posts 76 and 78)on the Lion and Makara figures are for one purpose- to illustrate
1. Not only Makara figures are portrayed with figures emanating from their mouths.
2. In a SINHALA CONTEXT most Makara figures do emanate foliage (all images included) and is not limited to beasts.
Also I don’t think you can assess the elements purely on regional references. As with the difference in Swords; the Sinhala Motifs have its own sub culture distinct from the regional/ Indian system. All assumptions must be based on this.
..

Strangely it seems you are UNABLE to see the differences that define the “species” of beast heads that figure on the Kasthana swords. Please check definition in my post #23. for a definition which expands on format given by Ananda Kumaraswami. Your assumption “The Hilt, The KnuckleGuard, The Quillons and The Cross Guard are of one linked style” and your “advise against separating the pommel decoration from the rest of the Hilt” are in Error.

There are three common types of beasts portrayed on them. The only figure that emanates a secondary figure consistently on the Kasthana is the figure that appears at the base of the Knuckle guard. which is almost always a Makara. the figure on the opposite terminus of the cross guard also on occasion extrude a short floral extension. On some instances the terminal figure of the Knuckle guard is portrayed emanating either floral or animal forms. This figure is either of a Serapendiya or Makara design. The Quillons too can be either Serapendiya or Makara. on occasion the figures on the cross guards also consist of Serapendiya heads. It is also important to note that the Serapendiya is also figured with forms appearing from its mouth which seem not to be limited to the Makara. The Lion only appears on the pommel of the hilt and is not proper on any other part except in some weak later period swords that do not follow tradition properly. I cannot recollect seeing any Kasthana with the pommel Lion figure emanating anything from its mouth except for a simple extended tongue (consistent with lion figure in other Sinhala art forms)

Image of a possible deity on a Kasthana occurs infrequently on the outer surface of the Knuckle guard which is still not identified with certainty as yet. Godesses Sri Devi and Patthini are the most likely candidates though it may be just a figure of “Nari-latha” or a figure of a Half woman half plant form. (This is possibly a matter for a separate thread of discussion) There are no cultural elements defined as Nagas in a Sinhala context that can be associated with motifs on the Kasthana. In rare occasions figures of similar deities may be found in the ricasso as well.

Note on images in post #56
The top Kasthana originating from a latter period workshop is highly influenced by British or late Dutch (?) design. it seem to not have too much Sinhala cultural discipline. The pommel figure still carries three ruffs signifying it is a Lion head. The other figures are strange as the faces are modeled as lion heads (similar to most late period degenerate Makara forms) but without the ruffs… they do not show the distinct short proboscis that make a Makara a true Makara.

The lower figure of a Kasthana from an earlier period; for me is my period of interest in Kasthana where the source of its origin, design and real function lie. Here the pommel figure is again clearly a lion of the early period design (not of European influence) with the distinct three ruffs. The terminal figure on the extended knuckle guard is a Serapendiya while the other four figures at the base of the hilt are all Makara.


Fernando,
Always a pleasure to see your interesting posts. -thank you for sharing. In surviving traditional form there is a type of knuckle duster known as “Kala-kiringne” (I am not sure how to spell this proper; it’s a very nasal pronunciation akin to some other words with links to Portuguese descent”) The indirect association of “Kala” with death is sound- as found in “kala-thuwakku” (Cannon), “Kalama” (curses used in war) and “Kala-kiringne”etc.. Kirichchi as you say is a short stabbing dagger similar to a Kris. There is also another short dagger with a two finger grip which is sometimes attributed to Kala-kirichchi as well. I was not confident of its link to a short sword.

Prasanna Weerakkody 26th October 2012 10:40 AM

Earlier records of Kasthana
 
The Hatan kavya text “Seethawaka Hatana” written by a warrior who was supposed to have fought in the Great Battle of Mulleriyawela include a narrative in which he refers to at least 5 chiefs who fought with Kasthana swords by name. These include Chiefs Kuruppu (of Korathota), Athulpana, Kahandawa, Weragoda and Wijeyakoon. The Mulleriyawela Battle occurred in 1559 and the text is dated circa 1585. I think this conclusively establishes the existence of Kasthana swords to mid 16th century and conforms my earlier note on the gift of a Kasthana sword to the Arachchi of the Illangama fighters Korathota (see picture above post #62). I need to re-locate my copy of “Rajasinghe Hatana” text which may provide additional reference to confirm the record :o

This also establishes the fact that Kasthana was originally used in war.

Jim McDougall 26th October 2012 05:45 PM

I think the late Anthony North said it best in his article from 1975 on a late 15th century Italian sword. In this he noted that students of arms are often faced with the dilemma in studying apparantly unrecorded types of hilts, to either cast them 'into the everlasting limbo of ethnographic material' or even worse , to dismiss as a '19th c. pastiche'.

The great thing about this thread is that we are gaining great input with outstandingly presented material concerning the nature of the ornate decoration on the kastane and what these elements represent. Rather than becoming an 'argument' it is a soundly conditioned debate, and to all of our good fortunes, most constructive. I have learned more in the remarkable material presented here than in most of the time I have studied these swords, clearly inadequately, so I am extremely appreciative.

It seems that the hilt guard configuration in the Maghrebi sa'if/nimcha swords and Italian swords of the mid to late 15th century are remarkably similar and the North African swords likely influenced by North Itallian swords rather than Spanish, according to Mr. North. In his article he also notes the comparison made by Charles Buttin between the nimcha/saif and Ceylonese kastane, though implying only superficial resemblance toward the guard system.

It would appear that the ring finger guards or quillons extending downward on developing Italian hilts were designed to protect the forefinger which was extended over the guard in Italian swordplay technique. Italian weapons and armour fashion distinctly influenced Spanish styles, though it would seem the downward projecting 'wings' on Nasrid swords of Spain may be more aligned with downward projecting guards of Persian style. In the idea that these were influenced by Jinete swords of North Africa, it is important to note that the Jinete forces by the 15th century were often supplied by Italy in weapons.
It is of course difficult to say exactly which influence may have impacted the clearly vestigial quillon grouping of the kastane, but seems likely that it is derived from some European form. Even prior to the Portuguese presence, the Arabs had long been trading in Sinhala, and the Sinhalese were probably exposed to the influences, as noted concerning the guns.

Returning to the hilt, while the lion is of course represented in both Portuguese and Dutch heraldry and symbolism, it seems that as a regal totem it had been long established in carvings, monuments, architecture and iconography in Sinhala from ancient times. It is my impression that the pommel of a sword, particularly on a highly and symbolically decorated court sword, would be considered a paramount place. The regal stature of the lion would naturally be considered for such position, while the highly revered 'supporting' creatures such as makara, would be placed in 'supporting' elements and features of the hilt .

The only instance I can imagine for variants or interpretations of the well established lionhead on the kastane would be if such examples were created by a warrior caste who had taken the 'protective' stature of the makara as a symbolic totem. The makara is seen in iconography as protective and supportive, much as warriors would be, as many occur in temples etc. in 'guarding' positions.

As noted it seems like by the 17th-18th centuries the kastane had become a courtly weapon and non combative in the Sinhalese context. The advent of firearms and artillery had significantly altered warfare there, much as elsewhere, and the swords became essentially regalia, though there were undoubtedly less opulent combat versions.

It would seem that we have opened the case for the development of the kastane into somewhat separate fields; that of the hilt configuration and guard system;the classification of the creatures in the hilt elements; and the nature of the blades, whether native produced or foreign.
Also, the case of courtly kastane forms and concurrent fighting forms as well as possible variants in the nature of the hilt decoration. Could there possibly be a regal Sinhalese form with the lion symbolically represented as well as an alternate form with a warrior rather than regal identity, with the makara as its totem?

Prasanna Weerakkody 27th October 2012 04:17 AM

Additional Early Kasthana records
 
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The following images were kindly sent to me by Mr. Ajantha Mahanth-arachchi who is a master of a Angam school of Korathotha

This sword is believed to be gifted by King Buwanekabahu VII of Kotte Kingdom (1521-1551) to the family of an ancillary prince(?) named Range’ Bandara. His descendants are still in possession of the Kasthana shown below as well as 2 Patisthana and one “Hella” spears, an ornate kris and a deed of a gift of land written on two sheets of copper issued under the name of the King.

In addition to the references I provided in posts # 62 and #87. this will provide additional evidence to support an earlier date for existence of Kasthana swords to mid 16th Century.

(Images of kasthana and Copper plates included)


Jim
Glad to have contributed in some measure to the understanding of the Kasthana. While being far from an expert on swords, my work as an Artist/painter specializing in re-construction of Ancient Sinhala lifestyle with a main focus on Ancient Sinhala warriors I have been involved in the study of Sinhala Art history and weapons and armor for a while. I hope I am more qualified in assessing material with a better footing on Sinhala culture and traditions and Traditional art practices. And hope we could take this discussion to a good conclusion.

My interest in Kasthana is to trace its origins, the sources, evolution and the time frame. and to better define the Kasthana with a understanding of the design elements. hence my perseverance to establish the true identity of the elements of the sword.

As I noted before I do not recollect seeing any Kasthana with pommels identifiable with Makara forms. If there is any specific candidates we should share them and assess them individually to set the record straight.

fernando 27th October 2012 06:10 PM

Still within the theme of Sry Lanka arms
 
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A magnificent Cingalo-Portuguese powder horn; in principle the best known example produced in Colombo during second half XVI /first half XVII centuries. Probably made for a Cingalese Monarch or someone of high rank. The dragon body with ruby eyes is built with chiseled silver covered by with a thin perforated ivory net. The flask mouth has a human figure, possibly a Portuguese, judging by his dressing. The gunpowder pours by his head, while he is praying; this could be interpreted as he wishes the gunpowder is used for well doing. The lid is a Goruda, which releases the gunpowder by pressing its tail.
A real master piece.
.


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