Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
The assumption presented need to be qualified on a couple of aspects. there are three main sects of Buddhism. Sri Lankan Buddhism belongs primarily to the “Heenayana”sect Though “Mahayana” also existed for many centuries along with Heenayana it was in decline and almost extinct in Sri Lanka at the time in question. The “Vajrayana” Sect to which the ritual weapon illustrated belongs never made a foot hold in Sri Lanka.
While I confess I know not enough of Tibetan Vajrayana Tantric traditions and Iconography, the Vajra being the Thunderbolt or lightening weapon as far as I know always contain either 3 or more prongs. I have never seen a two pronged Vajra at which point it may lose its character as a Vajra.
Though the Vajra as a symbol is used by Hindu and rarely in Mahayana Buddhist figures and several proper Vajra relicts and depictions are found in Sri Lankan collections which again have their roots in Hindu and Mahayana traditions, the Vajra combined ritual objects or practices (for which the ritual knife in the image belongs to) are un-known here.
The ”axe” in # 15 is not Sinhalese.
There is no doubt that almost all early Sinhala arts were influenced by Buddhist and also Hindu cultural values and icons but I feel that the Vajra is a rather unlikely candidate as its general iconic use is very rare in Sinhala art.
Salaams Weerakkody ~ The highly respected ancient religions of Buddhism and Hinduism have spread and difused across the region of which Sri Lanka was and is part. We are observing several thousand years of impact on the socio-political and of course the religious theme. Influence has spread and modified and as the view of the Makara blurrs slightly around the edges so too do the associated symbols, accompanying demons and supporting design structures. Through the thousands of years of such blending there is, however, a main theme central to the Makara hilt concept which is, as I have illustrated, the hand-in-hand appearance of other deities both on the knuckleguard, guard and "so called" quillons. The supporting evidence of Buddhist influence indicates the link, thus, pushing the Kastane design beyond the Portuguese appearance.
The proof therefor emerges showing the Kastane as a purebred Sri Lankan weapon whilst not ruling out Portuguese or other nationalities co-operation in joint production in retrospect. i.e. They liked it ~ they made more in joint workshops later.
Worth noting is the likelihood that the highly decorative, Buddhist influenced "so called" Quillons whilst having confused the issue for us now, actually enhanced its use as a court sword then. The point about the quillons is there appearance as strikingly similar to the Tibetan item and association with the Makara. A broader, wider look at the timeframe is advised since, though, there may have been a declining influence in the 15/16th century, by viewing a more expanded timeline the situation fuses more suitably in line with the theory. The question as to when the weapon actually appeared may also be examined.
The opportunity does not avail me to consider the important role of the national fighting art of Sri Lanka (http://www.angampora.info/
) since I am not there on the ground, however, I believe a parallel result may be possible from studying the pre European period and how Kastane was (or was not) employed in that fight form. Pointers indicate the weapons use earlier than 15thC from sources on the web but being on the ground facts would be easier to discover. It seems obvious to me that a martial system that was put in place to protect Buddhism would have within its deeply religious coding the evidence we are seeking. It would not surprise me to learn that the ancient system had adopted a certain weapon such as the Kastane as its primary defensive sword and when considering the Buddhist evidence now outlined perhaps someone in Sri Lanka can have a look at that..?
In conclusion; After relating the considerable evidence and the clear link with the ancient religious icons and deities, in particular; The Makara
and its supporting structures and considering the hypothesis concerning the details at #115, I concluded that The Kasthane is a Sri Lankan weapon predating Portuguese and other European and Arab influence, thus, it is a purebred Sri Lankan weapon with a Makara hilt.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
Note; I threw in the axe as an example though I am happy to throw it out again becaause whilst it is an example of curious, opposite facing, decorated monster, quillon type structures it's not actually Sri Lankan but Malay / Indian of Buddhist influence.