EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
The Sinhalese Kastane: Its Development, Decoration and Symbolism
I have decided to open a thread specifically addressed to the Sinhalese kastane as described in the title, in hopes that we might have focused discussion on the many aspects and sometimes complex aspects of these fascinating Sri Lankan swords and their history .
There is of course a concurrently running thread titled 'Sinhala/Sri Lankan swords', however there has been considerable consternation on that thread becoming overburdened with the notable complexities of the kastane in particular.
Obviously the kastane is one of the most distinctly recognizable of Sri Lankan swords, however it would seem that it requires its own specifically titled thread to address its inherent complexities without disturbing a the other threads apparently broader scope.
Some of the aspects of the well known kastane which have been brought to discussion have been
1. Just how old is the zoomorphically featured hilt, and what creatures are represented on its basic forms. While most references typically list the pommel as having a lionhead , which seems to correspond to the name of the people on this island, as well as the island itself (sinha=lion), Sinhala and Sinhalese....there are apparently some variations of the hilt.
2. There are interesting details in the important example of the kastane which was brought to Japan from the historic Keicho mission sent by Date Masamune and returned in 1620. It would be good to examine objectively the resources and data addressing this sword specifically, as has been done in degree on the other thread noted, but hopefully may be continued here.
3. The kastane appears to have developed from earlier combat weapons into the more regalia oriented court sword form in high embellishment. Hoping to establish some type of chronological line of development.
4. Many kastane of the 18th century seem to be mounted with VOC (Dutch East India Company) blades. Were these mounted to supply Sinhalese warriors? or were these used by Dutch sailors using local hilts and the blades off issued hangers?
We know the British were there as well, but as far as I have known, no blades (except bayonets) were ever marked by the English EIC. What other trade or colonial blades have been found on kastane?
I very much look forward to discussion focused on the kastane here, and to add to the advancing knowledge and understanding we have gained on the forum within other threads and discussions.