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Old 7th August 2008, 02:33 AM   #12
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by fernando
Could it come from "castão" ? The ornamental top of walking canes and other utensiles ?

Thank you so much Fernando for reading my post! You know how rusty I am at Portuguese but the 'castao' term was the one I saw, and havent found my notes yet, otherwise I could have cited the reference.

Sure, the hilt form could have come from the Portuguese swords, which in turn had the same arrangement as the Italian swords of end of 15th century, which influenced the Moroccan nimchas in the Meditteranean trade in the 17th century. It would be difficult to determine a line of progressive diffusion of this quillon arrangement, though the Portuguese colonization throughout the many coastal regions of Africa, India, China is well established. The Arab trade is equally well known, and Ceylon was the Serandib of Arabian lore.

It seems that Italian sword and blade manufacture was the origin of considerable developing influence on sword centers in Iberia, Black Sea regions, Africa, India over quite a period . For some reason I feel more inclined to think that the exporting of Italian products and smiths in many cases led to influencing the regions receiving them than the other way around, although reciprocal diffusion over time would be expected in degree.
We know that swordmaking in Europe was centralized in early times pretty much in Frankish regions, then with Celtibereans , but with the Renaissance came also fashion accompanying the use of the sword. With Italy holding resounding prominence in that period, as well as the prevailing trade of Venice and Genoa,and the influences of these city states spread accordingly.

Perhaps the Portuguese term said to be etymologically at the root of the term 'kastane' would add credence to the Portuguese weapons influencing the Sinhalese to fashion the swords of thier notables with similar hilt arrangement. The same arrangement appears on early Dutch hangers, and we know they were in the neighborhood, just as the Arabs, Venetians, Chinese and others. All of these powers were keenly in business in some degree with Ceylon exporting the valuable steel produced there, so it would be difficult to say which held the credit for influencing the first prototype.

Vandoo offers some pretty good reasoning there, and I would go along with a presentation or gift type item, but this seems older than 30 + years, hard to say from pictures.

I'd like to hear some other views on kastane's and thier origin. What I would really like to see is some examples with VOC blades, as discussed many times over the years. My research turned up early 17th century for earliest examples of this hilt.....anybody have other ideas?

What is the symbolism of the Sinha and Makara in terms of the Sinhalese perspective? Most examples seem 18th century, anybody have 19th century examples out there?

Best regards,
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