EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Thank you Ibrahiim for posting this thread! You truly are a master at navigating through these archived threads and material, and Im glad to remember Emanuel who has not posted for a while but also did valuable work on nimcha research. We of course remember the misnomer in the term 'nimcha' but use it here for convenience in discussion focused on the sword type rather than etymology.
The kastane mentioned was actually 17th century and acquired by Japanese in a diplomatic and trade mission through several Asian ports of call and returned to Tokyo in 1622 (I believe the sword is in Sendai museum if I recall). As you have noted, it does seem likely that the sword form must have existed at least some time before that, and the zoomorphic figures seen in the motif were indiginous to the mythology and traditions of the region. In the mid 17th century there were a number of lionhead swords issued to VOC fleet owners and it is tempting to consider they may have been influenced by presentation weapons produced by Sinhalan artisans. Some of these are seen in ivory.
The weapons in use in Sinhala pre 17th century may be presumed to be of South Indian forms and probably varying degree of Arab arms which would have been in the colonial stations described. As the kastane itself was apparantly in use in an almost regalia type status in earlier times it may be presumed that it was probably adorned with these lionhead and makara features accordingly. It is hard to say which of the weapon forms may have been adopted as the medium for this distinct form, but the figures and the hilt structure were likely an amalgam which became the kastane prior to the 1622 date.
While this seems to sidetrack from the nimcha and its development, the kastane remains key in the sense of being the eastern element of these suggested influences.
All the best,