EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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!