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Old 5th April 2014, 04:58 PM   #140
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
one of the images included by Ibrahiim in the collection of Ivory caskets is of particular interest and relevance in a different way to the topic in question- I quote from - “A catalogue of Antiquities and other cultural objects from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Abroad” - De Silva P.H.D.H.- Ivory casket no 1241 presently at Schatzkammer Der Residenz, Munich.

“In 1506 the Portuguese occupied Ceylon (“Sinhala Dvipa”) ; the island was then ruled by several kings, dominated by an Emperor. According to W. Sloman, Emperor Buwaneka Bahu (1521-51) did not want his brother Mayadunne but his grandson Dharmapala to become his successor. To receive the support of his fief master, the Portuguese King, for this plan, Buwaneka bahu sent in 1542 a delegation to Lisbon. There exists two descriptions about the delegation… According to one report (appr 1630) The delegate delivered two ivory statues, representing the emperor and the prince proposed for the succession to the throne; according to the other report (appr. 1687) the gifts presented to the Portuguese court consisted of a crown set with gems and a statue of massive gold representing Dharmapala (then about three years old) in natural height. after the fief -oath in effigy had been taken on behalf of this prince, Don Juan III of Portugal crowned the statue as a sign of acknowledgement of the succession to the throne”

The Ivory casket illustrates the events in detail from the coronation of King Buwaneka bahu to birth of the prince Dharmapala (Dom Juan) to the bringing of the effigy of the prince to Portugal and the crowning of the statue by King of Portugal.

The importance of this casket to the forum is in the depiction of many Sinhala arms including swords in a datable context at the time of the Portuguese wars and also coinciding or slightly predating with the time of the advent of the Kasthana as we know currently. yet no Kasthana swords can be observed in the collection depicted. even the royal sword used by King Buwanekabahu in his coronation seem to be a double edged blade of the common gladius type weapon of the time but longer. But it must be noted that the earliest specifically datable Kasthana swords are linked to the Mulleriyawela battle in 1559.

The images are of poor quality- may I make a general appeal if any forum member in that part of the world is able to get access to the specimen that we may be able to get some better photographs of the Item.



Salaams Prasanna, Thank you for your excellent addition to this thread. If I may... I would like to leave the idea of the weapons depicted til later... I need to research those and to see if the controlled artistic impression was such that only ancient weapons were depicted...and how or who would decide what weapons to show... I simply don't know. Perhaps it was purely traditional to show certain sword types but not others...?

I have to say it was pure luck that I posted this casket though being a collector of such items I was very impressed by the craftsmanship and the striking similarities in design on Kastane... and in fact other weapons including the folliage effect carved into long guns at the butt.

Fortuitously your post places the important battle of Mulleriyawela and as presented at which inclues an interesting and atmospheric enacted series of fight scenes involving the Kastane etc. If the situation described is true it places that date as the earliest date of this weapons appearance and since it appears as an associated weapon of Angampora (Angagaratha herala), though, the battle was said to be circa 1560... if the weapon was from the Angampora stable it must have been more ancient; The martial arts of Sri Lanka go back around 30,000 years.

I have difficulty trying to reconcile the weapon with anything European particular Portuguese since they were the agressor\invader and a weapon such as the Kastane is associated with relatively high Sri Lankan historic and religious entity. It simply makes no sense to either design a weapon and\or give it a Portuguese name when it held such a place of high esteem inside the Sri Lankan psyche.

My take on this sword (though I cannot rule out influence) is that it gets its design from an ancient Sri Lankan group of decorations and ideas though perhaps fused with something the Moors /traders imported earlier or which difused regionally...but from which direction? There are powerful suggestions that Javanese hilts have a place in the story (not to mention the broad effects from decorative Buddhist and Hindu form via India etc). Further , that through the martial arts system this style has been rooted in Sri Lankan history long before the entry by the first colonial power, The Portuguese, entered the equation.

I think we are now pressing hard on the Kastane origin of species though it may never be fully uncovered.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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