Originally Posted by kai
It's tough to reason with circular logic: If you define kastane as a court sword only, it is not surprising if all kastane sensu Ibrahiim were court swords...
Nobody is arguing that the late court kastane was not meant for fighting. This doesn't imply that earlier members of the same sword lineage can't ever have been fighting swords though.
The Tibetan sword you show clearly has the vajra included into the hilt design. However, I don't think a compelling case can be made that it's the same for any kastane - it's certainly an interesting thought but doesn't fly without a lot more supporting evidence!
A vajra is a 3-dimensional object symbolizing a four-sided diamond; those 4 "limbs" join into a solid tip - sort of like a war hammer. A kastane only shows 2 planes and the 2 mythical creatures don't really connect to the blade.
Moreover, these creatures are obviously taken from Hindu iconography and already have been utilized as cross guards in Hindu weapons. Much of the early Buddhist iconography is based on Hindu roots. Sri Lankan weapons were obviously based on Hindu weapons (certainly allowing for some additional cross-cultural influences, too).
Last not least, the vajra is the icon of the Vajrayana lineage of Buddhism which never had much of any presence on Sri Lanka.
Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater unless we have a really compelling reason to do so, shall we? Convincing the mother first, wouldn't hurt either...
Salaams Kai ~Please see any site you like about Buddhism in Sri Lanka...It will say something like this...Sri Lanka's population practices a variety of religions. As of the 2011 census 70.19% of Sri Lankans were Theravada Buddhists, 12.6% were Hindus, 9.7% were Muslims (mainly Sunni) and 7.4% Christians (6.1% Roman Catholic and 1.3% other Christian). It will further say how melded into one format are Hindu respected traditions and Buddhist ones.. I would say pretty inseparable. The form is very old 250 BC ...and has had a chequered and changing application of Buddhism and style but the central theme and influence has largely been from its core and from Tibet.
Makara. In the Tibetan Buddhist format it evolved from the Indian form of makara. However, it is different in some ways such as, "display of lions fore paws, a horse's mane, the gills and tendrils of a fish, and the horns of a deer or dragon. From its once simple fishtail, sometimes feathered, now emerges as a complex spiraling floral pattern known as makara-tail design (Sanskritmakaraketu)". At the same time and not to dwell on the hilt variation the makara hilt is known to be similar to the lion style and this difference is placed to one side so the other aspects can be viewed.
In Tibetan iconography, THE VAJRA is depicted as a weapon of strength and tenacity. The Vajrayan weapons which have makara symbolism are; axe, iron hook, curved knife, vajra, and ritual dragon, in all of which the theme is "emergence of the blade from the open mouth of the makara".
The Vajra on the Kastane is usually two because the blade is so flimsy / you cant really fit four around it..but I think the architects of the sword skirted around that by placing two other quilon Iconic animal forms one on the guard and another on the Knuckle guard and the last one on the lower guard making 5. It so happens that 5 or 9 are the accepted ways to illustrate Vajra.
No one to date has fielded such exact proof of technical transfer as this... I show a 14th Century Sword of Tibetto-Chinese form with Vajra in exactly the right position at the throat. Would you like to see more Tibettan weapons with Vajra? The Great Buddha himself walked into Tibet with a Vajra which is why it is so revered across regions.
I didn't say that all phases of the Kastane were non battle weapons ... On the contrary the early stone frieze shows a possible original type of battle Kastane...with a similar blade to the example taken back by Hasekura to Japan and currently in their Museum. I am however linking the Vajra to the Kastane directly from the Tibettan source making it very clear that the Quilons are not European but home grown....and they aren't Quilons!! but are religious decorations known as Vajra.
I do, however, say that the bling hilt is purely court sword and Badge of Office. (There are also reports that the Kastane went into Battle not as a weapon but a badge of rank.) Later but not much later it became a secretaries sword ...but only a badge of Office ...See Mudaliers and below with KASTANE.
Here it is ...