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!
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.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.