Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 24th April 2009, 08:00 PM   #1
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default Ceylon Piha-kaetta (?)

This dagger described as a Celonese Piha-Kaetta 17th/18th Century just sold at Bonhams auction, 4/22/09, Sale 16775, Lot 64.

http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/publ...SaleSectionNo=1

Is certainly a beautiful dagger, what alludes me is a definite attribution to Ceylon. Does anyone have a reference of similar work from Ceylon? All opinions would be appreciated...

Bonhams desription:

"A Fine And Very Rare Ceylonese Piha-Kaetta Hilt
17th/18th Century
With later tapering double-edged blade of slightly hollowed diamond section, hilt comprising later slightly upcurved silver-gilt guard cast and chased with flowerheads and foliage, silver-gilt basal mount cast and chased with scrolling foliage below a border set with small cabochon rubies (one missing), and slightly curved rounded silver grip (three small panels missing) cast and chased with scrollwork and foliage involving two female Hindu deities on each side above and below a central gilt roundel of female demi-figures grasping each others wrists, swelling pommel cast and chased each side with a winged cherub's head of European influence between monster masks, and surmounted by a small gold button
17.8 cm. blade, 10 cm. hilt"


rand
Attached Images
 
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th April 2009, 08:05 PM   #2
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Posts: 5,283
Default

Well Rand, i don't know about the Ceylon origin, but it certainly ain't no Piha Kaetta.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th April 2009, 09:04 PM   #3
colin henshaw
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,123
Default

I agree with David. I don't know much about weapons from South Asia, but this is nothing like the Piha-Kaetta knives I have seen.

Regards
colin henshaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th April 2009, 09:15 PM   #4
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

David,

You may be as puzzled as I am on this dagger. If you go to the link to Banhams and and click on flash version you can enlarge image to see detail much better.

Interesting to note that Bhutan did similar silver work in 17th-18th centurys on their dagger handles and scabbards..... One thing that puzzles me is the seemingly low grade gold, it appears shiney like 14k in the middle of the handle, the gold around the gems seems a wash'gilt over silver and below the gem layer maybe a higher carot gold that seems darker and less lustre....

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th April 2009, 09:37 PM   #5
Gavin Nugent
Member
 
Gavin Nugent's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,402
Default Hmmm

I certainly noticed it whilst viewing the catalogue, quite a striking item.
It is hard to remember every thread posted but Spiral offered up a dagger in similar style a little while back?

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7884

Sri Lanka was mentioned as a posibility?

Perhaps Spiral can repost an image as they are now gone.

Certainly very nice.

Gav

PS the auction house wasn't very helpful this time around, I asked for about a dozen images that were not online and it fell on deaf ears.
Gavin Nugent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 01:26 AM   #6
VANDOO
(deceased)
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: OKLAHOMA, USA
Posts: 3,140
Default

IT CERTIANLY LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE DAGGER IN THE FORUM POST.
IF IT WAS PERHAPS ONE OF OUR MEMBERS WILL HAVE PLENTY OF CASH AVAILABLE FOR FURTHER COLLECTING.
VANDOO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 04:38 AM   #7
RSWORD
Member
 
RSWORD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 857
Default

A very interesting piece and quite worthy of research and discussion. While I have nothing concrete to add let me throw out some observations to add to the theoretical pot. The first thing I noticed was the interesting "cant" of the handle. When you look strictly at the outline of the handle from the gem'ed ring upwards, it reminds me of the overall shape of a keris handle. The gem'ed ring has a certain keris mendak(sp?) flavor as well. The second thing I noticed was the interlocked figures in the central panel. Reminds me, along with a few of the other decorative themes, to carved ivory handles on dha daggers and swords. I have seen that very theme, which may be a common religious theme and not peculiar to SE Asia, on those nicely carved ivory handles. Thailand is a region quite familiar with keris and dha and toss in some Western influences in the quillons and the blade and you have yourself a possible candidate. Just can't get the Ceylonese connection.
RSWORD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 08:40 AM   #8
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,645
Default

I'm with Rand and Rick in struggling to see the Ceylonese connection here, and the later blade which has nothing to do with Sri Lankan knives as far as I can see really adds to the distortion.
In focusing on the hilt, I agree with Rick in noticing the cant of the pommel which does correspond to the rather recurved styling of most pihaya hilts.
In that sense this would classify as a pihaya, which is described as a small ornate knife worn for decoration at the waist.

I am curious what the original blade must have looked like, as the pihaya kaetta blades were heavy and with extensive work on the back that usually followed en suite with the hilt. The upturned European style guard would not seem to lend well to that rather graceful effect.

The description of the chasework noting European style cherubs within the traditional themes along with the European style guard suggests perhaps this may have been a diplomatic item. Naturally, as Deraniyagala (1942) notes on p.110, "...ornate daggers were presented to individuals of royal esteem" . It may be that this item may have been produced by 'the Four Workshops' maintained by the kings in Kandy, influenced by the ever present Dutch and Portuguese powers, and which I understand ceased production in the early 19th century.

I would note that without the Ceylonese association specified, I would not look for that connection, but having been mentioned, these thoughts are mentioned toward possibilities for the unusual nature of the item.

All best regards,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 01:57 PM   #9
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,909
Default

I would not have guessed Ceylonese either, fail to see the importance of it and would not dream of bidding on it, but what the heck!
Bidders' frenzy took over and the seller cried all the way to the bank.
Obviously, bidders at Bonhams were much more sophisticated and knowledgeable than all of us combined. Good luck to the winner!
BTW, economists have a term: winner's curse. Somebody calculated that the true value of an auctioned piece is the mean of all individual bids. Thus, the winner always overpays. Statistically, of course.
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 05:47 PM   #10
G. McCormack
Member
 
G. McCormack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 131
Send a message via AIM to G. McCormack
Default

Peter Finer had some ceylonese made-for-export pieces in one of his catalogues from a few years ago....I don't know if they sold or if we can talk about them, but if so I could try to scan the pics.....
G. McCormack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th April 2009, 10:47 PM   #11
Rick
Member
 
Rick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,526
Smile

I'd believe this was Sri Lankan made to the European taste .

One can see such hilts on european swords owned by colonial officers .
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 10:35 AM   #12
Bill M
Member
 
Bill M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA Georgia
Posts: 1,486
Default

Rand,

As I mentioned in our private posts, I'd vote for South India.

Can anyone ID the Deities??
Bill M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 11:36 AM   #13
Gavin Nugent
Member
 
Gavin Nugent's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,402
Default Bill

Bill,

You don't look so scary in your avatar anymore , the mask come off or is this a new mask you put on?

Gav
Gavin Nugent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 12:50 PM   #14
ariel
Member
 
ariel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 3,909
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
Bill,

You don't look so scary in your avatar anymore , the mask come off or is this a new mask you put on?


Gav


That's his inner child
ariel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 01:12 PM   #15
Bill M
Member
 
Bill M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA Georgia
Posts: 1,486
Default

He is my inner King Charles Spaniel, Chumley.

He and Tucker came to the Imperial Auction. They bid on a few items, but the pieces went too high. Imagine the pieces in "Dog Dollars." A $1,000 piece is D-D$7,000 to Chumley!

Right now, Chumley is checking out the Piha Kaetta Rand posted. "Whoa, that is a lot of D-GBP!"

But he does like the auction house name: "Bone-Hams!"

Chumley wants further discussion on the Piha Kaetta.
Bill M is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 02:01 PM   #16
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,645
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by G. McCormack
Peter Finer had some ceylonese made-for-export pieces in one of his catalogues from a few years ago....I don't know if they sold or if we can talk about them, but if so I could try to scan the pics.....




Its OK to present pictures from catalogues as long as properly cited, and it would be great to see the pictures as made for export seems exactly the right heading for this interesting dagger.
Thank you for noting this,
All the best,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 03:24 PM   #17
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

First off, want to thank everyone for there input on this mysterious subject. Ever notice if you make all the right turns you travel in a circle back to where you started? (lol) Well, maybe not....

When I first looked at this dagger I just could not place it as being from Ceylon. But now am not so sure about that because of the following reasons.

Ceylonese daggers (piha kaetta) often have a "cant" handle.

Piha Khaetta sometimes have a button on top that attaches to tang running through handle.

In Ceylonese Arms and Armor is reference to Ceylon straight double edged dagger with short cross guard.

Although Sinhalese are mainly Buddhist, Hinduism has strong influence in parts of Ceylon as demonstrated by Colombo Temple.

Portugal and Netherlands colonized in 16th century, ceded to British Empire in 1815(can you say Waterloo?)

Ceylonese sword can have short straight quillons.

Color me confused but curious still....

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th April 2009, 09:58 PM   #18
wilked aka Khun Deng
Member
 
wilked aka Khun Deng's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Posts: 166
Default Piha or Kaetta = knife

Just wanted to add a note of clarification here. I think I mentioned in a post sometime ago that I'd discussed piha-kaetta with a Sri Lankan I happened to sit with on a plane and after a bit he figured out what I was talking about (putting the two names together confused him).

He told me that "piha" and "kaetta" BOTH translate as "knife" however they are two separate languages one is Tamil and the other Sinhala. Since then and as recent as last month I've confirmed this with two other Sri Lankans.

While we as collectors have used the combination term piha-kaetta to define a certain style ether term used singly or in combination could be accurately used to describe any knife from Ceylon.

Dan
wilked aka Khun Deng is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 01:01 PM   #19
Tatyana Dianova
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 501
Default

I vote for South India too; to be more specific, for Tamil Nadu.
I base my attribution on the handle decoration; the blade may be European. Alas, Spiral’s pictures are gone, but if I remember the details correctly, the handle ornaments are very similar to the traditional jewelry pieces of Tamil Nadu, as well as the Swami jewelry from Madras.
First, look at the gold Hindu marriage necklaces worn by Chettiar women in Tamil Nadu as the sign of marriage; it is removed upon being widowed. On the central ornament pendant the goddess Lakshmi is depicted, sometimes surrounded by the birds, apsaras, lions, yalis, etc. They look pretty similar to the top part of the dagger in question.
Attached Images
   
Tatyana Dianova is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 01:03 PM   #20
Tatyana Dianova
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 501
Default

Now to the Swami jewelry. It is an Anglo-Indian hybrid style of jewelry that flourished from the middle of the 19 c. into the early 20 c. It was created mainly by P. Orr and Sons of Madras, Tamil Nadu. The local term “swami” means “god or goddess” and refers to the ornamentation of these pieces with images of the deities of Hindu pantheon. All of them were created in silver (sometimes gilt) or gold in the same technique as the dagger’s handle, i.e. cast and chased. Orr also manufactured dessert services, trays, spoons, presentation objects, etc with Indian motifs. All were essentially oriented towards Westerners. Below are some examples (alas, no Lakshmi among them…)
To me this dagger looks like a custom order made to Orr’s manufacture, but it is only a theory, of course…
Attached Images
  
Tatyana Dianova is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 02:26 PM   #21
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default Bonhams Dagger

Seems that the evidence for the decorative motifs being Hindu are compeling and the shown jewelry from Tamil Nadu specific example of similar style work. Southern India also has many examples of a "cant" handle, many examples of upturned guard, many examples of cast silver handle, many examples of a straight double edged blade for a dagger, many examples of of Anglo European decoration. My feeling so far is that the style of art that most influenced this dagger most likely from Southern India.

That would brong us to a decision of most likely time period of manufacture. Using similar cast silver handles, scabbards as a guide such as those from Bhutan 18th century or late 17th century come to mind. The Anglo European motif go's back to at least 16th century on Indian daggers. The apparent low carot gold of the medalion seems last 18th-19th century. Whats your opinion of time period?

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 02:32 PM   #22
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

Shah Jahans dagger, 1620-1630 showing Anglo influence.... From Splendeurs des Arms Orientales, page 93.
Attached Images
  
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 02:49 PM   #23
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Marsh
He is my inner King Charles Spaniel, Chumley.

He and Tucker came to the Imperial Auction. They bid on a few items, but the pieces went too high. Imagine the pieces in "Dog Dollars." A $1,000 piece is D-D$7,000 to Chumley!

Right now, Chumley is checking out the Piha Kaetta Rand posted. "Whoa, that is a lot of D-GBP!"

But he does like the auction house name: "Bone-Hams!"

Chumley wants further discussion on the Piha Kaetta.


Its apparent that Cumley is a dog of "Bone-ified" good taste, we should gnaw on this one a while.....

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 07:33 PM   #24
Anandalal N.
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 83
Default

Hi Rand and others,

I have been following this post but been too busy to give it the attention it deserved.

The description does say that it is a Ceylonese Piha-Kaetta Hilt and not a full knife of this type. The blade form would be rare for Ceylonese knives though I have seen two; one with an ivory hilt. However, the blade does not conform to Piha-Kaetta or the Kandyan knife forms. [The term Piha-Kaetta is incorrect and meaningless in the vernacular but am not using it in the vernacular sense]

The hilt is extremely interesting. A closer examination makes it clear why the Ceylonese appellation was given. The hilt design shows an interlocking knot consisting of four figures between two forward facing female figures.

I have attached two sketches of the female figures from the hilt under discussion to make it easy to discuss. Please note ....very rough sketches.

However, see the attached images from the Hanguranaketha Palace or what remains of it from the book 'Diyathilaka Nuwara' written in Sinhalese. The palace was destroyed thrice and the last time in the early 19th century.

The next three are from the large pommel of a knife made of bone? with a backward facing female figure.

Both females in the sketches from the knife under discussion are in frontal view, bare breasted, arms pronated, with elaborate head-dress and are similar to the Hanguranketha examples and the knife pommel illustrated.

In between the female figures of the knife under question is a knot formed out of four figures. This is a regular feature in Ceylonese art. More common with female figures but also with male figures this knot involves multiple interlocking figures. Again I have attached a knot of seven human fgures this time in a circular motif from the book 'Sinhala Desika Wishwakoshaya'.

Surrounding these figures are the floral or wave forms that we are familiar with in the so called piha-kaetta hilt.

Hence, though unusual, the hilt shows Ceylonese origin with of course European influnce in the Cherub. Whether it can be called Piha-Kaetta ... the term is so confused that I shall not attempt to answer that one.

Hope this information is useful and of interest.

Best Regards.
Attached Images
    

Last edited by Anandalal N. : 27th April 2009 at 07:53 PM.
Anandalal N. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 07:38 PM   #25
Anandalal N.
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 83
Default

Further images
Attached Images
  
Anandalal N. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 07:40 PM   #26
Anandalal N.
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 83
Default

Images too large. Shall try again later.
Anandalal N. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th April 2009, 08:30 PM   #27
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

Anadala,

Great posting, could you clear up a question about the following sentence?

"In between the female figures of the knife under question is a knot formed out of four figures. This is a regular feature in Ceylonese art. More common with female figures but also with male figures this knot involves multiple interlocking figures. Again I have attached a knot of seven human fgures this time in a circular motif from the book 'Sinhala Desika Wishwakoshaya'. "

Are you saying that this circular motif is:

A) A Ceylonese motif only

B) A Hindu motif only used in Ceylon

C) A Ceylonese motif used by Hindus only in Ceylon

D) Something else......

Have attached photo of circular motif....
Attached Images
 
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th April 2009, 12:24 PM   #28
Anandalal N.
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 83
Default

Hi Rand,

Reference to your question I can say that the interlocking figures are a prevalent featue in Ceylonese temple paintings and in combination with the other features strongly suggest Ceylonese origin for the hilt.

What follows is an extract from the paper SOME MEDIEVAL REPRESENTATIONS OF SINHALA WRESTLERS AND GLADIATORS (1937) by P E P Deraniyagala.

"Wrestling scenes are depicted either in a circle, as a square, or with the figures standing. Sinhala artists frequently employ ingenious combinations of the female figure to depict the chariot wheel, chariot, vase, palanquin, arch, swastika, flowring creeper, elephant and horse, but no such use of the combatant male figure has been recorded."

As you can see Deraniyagala uses the term "Sinhala artists" thus excluding Hindu art. As for me, my opinion is consistant with Deraniyagala's. This feature is predominantly a Sinhala motiff and I would certainly be interested in different opinions. Please remember that there was much cross fertilization in the region. The traditional names for these knots are based on the number of figures and their gender. Never have I seen these with males and females in combination in a single design.

I have added an image with four wrestlers (male) from the temple of the tooth in Kandy taken from the above paper.

The other image from the well preserved molding above the window of the Hanguranketha Temple shows a female figure with arms pronated holding creepers or floral designs similar to the knife hilt under discussion. Following Deraniyagala's suggestions, the interlocking figures in the knife under discussion could be a cart wheel with the outer circle suggesting the outer rim of the wheel and the inner hollow square suggesting the aperture intended to receive the axle head.

Regards.
Attached Images
  
Anandalal N. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th April 2009, 01:33 PM   #29
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default

Anandala,

Great input.....

The quote from Deraniyagala's book is compeling evidence that this dagger is from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). \

You say the circular motif is found in Sinhalese temple painting but do not mention which religion the temple is. Is it a Hindu temple? A Buddist temple? Or is this seen in multiple religons in Sri Lanka? My guess would be its a Hindu temple because of the other figures on the daggers handle.

We seem to have come full circle on this dagger, just like the motif!!!

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th April 2009, 02:09 PM   #30
rand
Member
 
rand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 519
Default Sinhala Weapons and Armor

Found another book by the same author of "SOME MEDIEVAL REPRESENTATIONS OF SINHALA WRESTLERS AND GLADIATORS (1937) by P E P Deraniyagala", cept this book is titled "Sinhala Weapons and Armor". He was the director of museums in Ceylon.....

A quote from this book,"The hilt of the sword should have a pommel of lotus petals; the middle part should be decorated and possess auspicious figures as of lions,etc. A circle at the middle of a weapon is inauspicious".

This puts a most intrigueing twist as bad, ill,misfortune,unfavorable are synonems for inauspicious.

The entire book is posted at this site and is fascinating reading:
http://www.pihakaetta.com/sinhala_weapons_armor_low.pdf

rand
rand is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 11:09 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.