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Old 9th March 2014, 03:44 PM   #72
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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The Kastane story may continue ad infinitum to develop and based on the excellent material unearthed by Forum so far.. For me, however, the culminating note is unveiled by Wikepedia the famous on line encyclopedia which states ~

The Kastane.

Quote"The Kastane is a short traditional ceremonial/decorative single-edged sword of Sri Lanka. Kastanes often have elaborate hilts, especially shaped and described as a rich mythical style inherited from Buddhism and Hinduism and in blending a variety of Deities including Makara, Lions, Kirtimukha, Serapendiya, Nagas, crocodile/human monsters and other dragon and gargoyle like effigies. Some are emitted onto the hand guard and cross guard with Vajra style pseudo-quillons whose finials are also decorated by minor monsters and a rain-guard decorated by the Makara or Serapendiya Peacock tail or fish scales which occasionally flows over and onto the blade at the throat. The Scabbard is occasionally seen with a miniature beasts head at the Chape also emitting a Deity or cloud pattern. Sometimes a small human face decorates the hand-guard which is a half human/half crocodile monster.

The main aspect of Kastane Hilts shows the central Deity accompanied by supporting minor Deity forms and the peculiar guard arrangement incorporating Buddhist style Vajra quillons, cross and hand guards and decorated handguard with further embelishment often spilling over onto the blades throat. In approaching a description authors should observe each Kastane separately since no two are identical and the main Hilt theme thus could be either of the variant Deities Lion or Makara/ Serapendiya etc. and since artist and artisan may well have applied a broad ranging interpretation of the form.

In 1807 it is recorded that the sword was an indicator of Official Rank so that the more senior persons would wear a more lavishly adorned weapon etc...and that this was also the intent though perhaps to a lesser degree in the Portuguese and Dutch periods.

They may first have arisen in the Kandyan Kingdom (15/16th century ?), perhaps inspired by European swords brought by the Portuguese period in Ceylon or in fact imported by the great Sri Lankan sea traders ... The Moors....The basic form being lavishly adorned so much so that it is almost impossible to designate a base pattern though North Italian or Venetian seems plausible. The hilt resembles South Indian weapon designs. The blade comes in a variety of sizes and it can be either straight or slightly curved. They are usually single-edged and most frequently are made in Europe(Solingen). None of the blades bear either Portuguese marks or English East India Company trademarks (EIC), however, there are many examples of Dutch influence with blades marked VOC. The single part of the sword that shares the similar characteristics is the hilt. It has two or four quillons. In the 4-quillon version the smaller two quillons are swept downwards toward the tip of the blade. In fact it is arguable if these are Quillons since they are mirror images of the Vajra projections on the Buddhist religious axe and perhaps serve no defensive purpose.

The pommel and the quillons are very beautiful as each of them ends with a carved Deity's head. The hilts are often encrusted with gemstones as in the eyes of Ruby stones and inlaid with silver or made entirely of silver or gold. The scabbards of the Kastane swords are made of wood or rhino horn and are decorated with brass, silver and/or gold. It is a testament to the skill of the traditional craftsmen operating in Sri Lankas ancient Royal Sword Workshops".Unquote.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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