Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Ibrahiim, the publication date for the source of the image is given as 1605 which may preclude later revisions. but a point to be noted is that the original image does not seem to have the side rings indicated in the later copies; and may resemble the more ancient type of Sinhala swords (similar to the ones shown in the Ivory casket.)
Salaams Prasanna ..I would like to posit the following sub theory in respect of the Kasthane; I present my theory in several sections viz;
1.This is a home grown weapon. The king himself (King Rajasinghhe 1 reigned 1581 to 1593) ordered his workshops to design it...based upon a "golock style" of broad jungle blade with the respected hilt of zoomorphic form (the hilt more or less already existed in the region for example on the Pihae Kheata and on Javanese weapons) and initially with a crossguard more or less exactly as in the stone mural. (perhaps without scabbard, no handguard, no quillons) The date taken or suggested is near the start of his reign..about 1581..It is noted that he chose to assist him someone who could have influenced perhaps the nature of that weapon... from Southern India?
2. Quite soon after this the Vajra quillons were added though it seems clear they were not placed to block another sword but perhaps as balance/weight to the hilt or for decorative / religious purposes only. Further decoration included a handguard. The example is at the Sendai museum in Japan, thus, since it was purchased by Hasekura in about 1620 it may have been built around 1600?
3. The weapon then morphed in several ways and became a rank indicator worn by Sri Lankan troop leaders...as already described. The blades became narrower and more of a court sword item... Some weapons found their way to Europe and as displayed in the artwork on the Popham Armour in the Leeds Armoury...Some were straight others curved. The Kastane became the Mudalyers Sword worn by Sri Lankan leaders against the invader... and some would say it became the insignia of power.
4. Both Dutch and English Mudalyers (perhaps better considered as civil servants) wore the weapon and since it was tied to rank; The higher the official the more ornate the sword. During the Dutch period vast amounts of blades were imported by the VOC thus blade making in Sri Lanka greatly reduced...However Kastane continued to be worn right up to the end of the English period and beyond...and awarded to Mudalyers in the same way but in the EIC.
5. Reverse flow occured in influence onto other regional weapons including European dogheads plus early derivatives like the West African variant shown earlier.
It is interesting to note that perhaps the only European thing about the first Kastane was ..absolutely nothing ! It wasnt until the adoption of the handguard that any parallel can be drawn as to likeness to a European sword.
It is thus described above as initially a straight broad bladed battle sword and having changed with time into a court sword and badge of rank etc.
The Sri Lankan Kasthane
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.