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Old 19th February 2014, 05:45 AM   #38
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
I think that it is well established that the kasthane in the regularly seen embellished form is pretty much a parade type arm worn as a badge of rank or office. As discussed, the elements seen in the hilt are vestigial features from earlier hilts in which the quillon and guard system had intended purposes for combative use. These were primarily the basic features of the hilts which developed in Italy in later fully developed rapier forms, and later found their way into nimcha style hilts . Variations of these same hilt arrangements are known throughout Europe as well as through the Arab trade world.

The various creatures represented on the elements of the hilt have symbolic and some apotropaic purpose of course. It is important to recognize these weapons and these symbolic features in that they serve more votive purpose than any actual combative intent.

The Tibetan axes as well of course as the phurbu daggers are entirely spiritual weapons with no worldly combative value . In India many swords are considered 'temple' swords, such as the unusual flamboyant blade Nayar examples. While these are in some degree regarded as being based on actual combat weapons of earlier times, in actuality the sometimes dramatic features are intended in more spiritually embellished sense than for an actual purpose.

The downward triangular protrusion on the kasthane would be more associated with langets which are essentially for scabbarding the weapon, but also provides useful area for additional embellishment and decoration.

Salaams Jim, Whilst I agree upon the apotropaic nature of such embelishment from the talismanic and majic protection viewpoint and the votive purpose of the Kastane, I was in fact surprised to see that it was also carried into war / battle situations by the Arachchi and probably the Mudaliyars but in the latter more likely in the form of a badge of office...which later transmitted to a full-on badge of rank and status icon... throughout the Portuguese, Dutch and English periods.

Rain Guard.
Taking on the Rainguard; It appears as a peculiar and extended triangular protrusion. Could this have been utilized instead of the quillons for trapping an oponents sword?.. and as a rainguard and locking mechanism into the scabbard ~ clearly its main function...Interestingly it is usually decorated with a foliate or peacock tail feather stylistic decoration associated with several Deities(Makara and other) but also occasionally thereupon sits a funny looking face which is the half humanoid monster "Kirtimukha" on the Kastane at my last posting. Otherwise often carved and painted typically above ancient architectural temple doors.

From Wikipedia; Quote"The word mukha in Sanskrit refers to the face while kīrti means "fame, glory". Kirtimukha has its origin in a legend from the Skanda Purana when Jalandhara, an all-devouring monster created from Shiva, third eye willingly ate his body starting by its tail as per Lord Shiva's order, who pleased with the result gave it the name face of glory. Some authors have compared the Kirtimukha myth with the Greek myth of Ouroboros.

The Kirtimukha is often used as a decorative motif surmounting the pinnacle of a temple or the image of a deity, especially in South Indian architecture. This face is sometimes assimilated to, or confused with, another sculptural element, the lion face (Simhamukha). However, in order to be a Kirtimukha it has to be engaged in swallowing, for the Kirtimukha is the figure of the "all consuming" This monstrous face with bulging eyes sits also as an embellishment over the lintel of the gate to the inner sanctum in many Hindu temples signifying the reabsorption that marks the entry into the temple. Mostly it is only a face, although in some places its arms are portrayed as well".Unquote.

Is what is being portrayed the spilling of minor Deity form via Makara, Nagas and Kirtimukha(swallowing) etc culminating with overflowing and exuberant, lavish, decorative, mythical detail over the quillons and rainguard onto the blade at the throat and onto the scabbard? Thus it is hardly surprising that such a weapon is heralded and so important in the history of Sri Lanka...perhaps underlining its home grown, home produced nature?

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