Salaams All ~
The Kastane; Lion /Makara Hilt.
It is not possible to draw a conclusion from the item seen at the hilt as to its Lion like or Makara like attributes. In fact some would say that it makes no difference what it is…and though it would be enlightening to know for sure; certainty is not a word that exists in the murky world of myth and legend. Personally I am happy with the “stylistic zoomorphic nature” of this Iconic hilt but always ready to consider your views.
The main hilt character… or should I say characters since the mythical description defies any singular pin point reasoning… and why should it? After all the myth is perpetrated by its variability, change of shape, chameleon like variability… It is legend, myth, religious meaning and …essentially how you as a believer in the ancient faiths/religious constructs of Buddhism and Hinduism see it. What’s more it is a physical hand carving made by an artisan who may have observed the creation in any of its 5 different life stages…plus the obvious inclination by artists to throw in their own interpretation. It may be noted that unlike the tradition of blade making the art of hand carving in wood, horn and Ivory contained no break in being handed down thus the tradition goes back more than 1000 years.
Put another way by http://www.amazinglanka.com/wp/makara-torana/
Quote” The central theme of the story is the glorification of Makara as the symbol of the Kurukula races. It is a composite animal, a concept of early cultures, a symbol of creative power, a symbol of “Sakti”. “It has the head of a crocodile, the horns of a goat, the body of an antelope or deer, a curved tail like that of a snake with the head of a fish and feet like those of a panther or a dog, with two horns on the forehead, its sides and bloated belly covered with leopard like spots, it is like nothing on earth.” Raghavan further states “The Makara embodies in its combination the fundamental symbolism of Traditional Psychology. It is symbolic of the Five Elements. In so far as it belongs to the Element Earth, it is like a creeping snake. In so far as it belongs to the Element Water, it is like a fish. In so far as it belongs to the Element Fire, it is panther like. In so far as it belongs to the Element Air, it is like a deer or a mountain goat. Extending this to the four elements of manifestation, the nature of the Makara is of a composite dragon”. Unquote.
Readers may believe one or the other.. some may suppose that one is more dominant a style on some swords than others or that the association between other deities are associated with the Makara but not the Lion or that the importance of a Lion over rides all else in Sri Lankan tradition so it must be a Lion. In the minds of some it looks like a lion so it must be one (a rather unsatisfactory view based on the above)
That then is a conundrum that may never be fully explained. There are, however, perhaps bigger fish to fry here… not least the burning question of European design transfer or home grown only?…Sri Lankan Purebred or a combination effort?
It is a conclusion I am working on but I await your input… Comments welcome.
Oh Forum… ? What do you suggest?
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.