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Old 15th January 2014, 11:42 AM   #181
Prasanna Weerakkody
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Dear Ibrahiim

Sorry if you are offended by my using your name as Balooshi. I was not aware that it was in any way offensive to you. my regrets on this one. shall call you Ibrahiim from now on. My sincere apologies...

For whoever is interested I provided a rather basic outline of the main figures on a kasthana hilt based on the traditional Sinhala presentation of beast forms on my post dated 6th Oct 2012 Including Lion Makara and Serapendiya.

regards

Prasanna
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Old 15th January 2014, 04:55 PM   #182
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
Dear Ibrahiim,

I stand corrected on this creature, the one with the Lion head.

Michael Backman has provided information about these swords and the Serapendiya when displayed in his gallery. The bibliography he provides will I am sure offer great insight in to art and armour from these regions as his reading/library list is impeccable.

Gavin



Salaams SwordsAntiqueWeapons` Yes he knows his stuff .. thanks for the reply. On the picture you posted this was very much on cue... I was just investigating the Serapendiya...then your picture appeared... though it had been alluded to way back...I didn't have a clue about it..

Frankly I haven't seen two absolutely exact copies of these sword hilts .. they all have a certain degree of artistic impression and being hand carved mythical themes that is hardly surprising.
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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:05 PM   #183
Jim McDougall
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This truly has developed into a great discussion, and I'm glad this thread has been revived as it seems we are getting some excellent traction in examining the peculiarities of these fascinating swords. I would like to say that I sincerely appreciate the courtesy and candor you guys display in what are often considerably opposing views, and personally I would consider this discourse a discussion rather than 'debate'.
The purpose of debate is in my perception altogether different and is an exercise in presenting and defending with support , opposed views with the objective of having a winner and loser in more of a contest and display of skills in conflict.

Here I consider what we intend to achieve is fact finding and presenting plausible ideas and observations which add to the collective knowledge toward better understanding of the weapons we investigate.

In my own personal view, there are many potential answers here as to the zoomorphic figures represented on these examples of the 'kasthane' as with most weapon forms, the scope of variations is broad. There were no hard and fast rules or 'patterns' followed, though obviously there was a degree of set tradition as with these creatures, and these are interpretive as represented by the artisans over periods of time, different regions and nuanced desires of prospective clients for their arms.

As with many weapon forms which evolve into more vestigial forms with purposes outside the obviously combative origins, such as those which become court, dress or presentation swords, and in the cases in context of examples becoming religiously oriented for ceremony or votives...so too did the kasthane become more decorative and courtly.

It seems the first provenance example is that acquired in the Japanese voyage which returned to Japan in 1620. This embassy is of course well documented and while the sword itself was not acquired in Sinhala proper, but from Spanish source I believe. I am unclear on what location that interaction took place, but the distinct zoomorphic pommel head was in place by 1615 it would seem. As the sword was acquired by the Spanish royal court some time earlier, it would seem that kasthane of this form were present by at least late 16th c .

Looking into the extremely complex and diverse circumstances in then Sinhala gives numerous possibilities for the nature of the pommel heads and creatures on these swords, and it is interesting to note similar forms in South India and into the Deccan. If I am not mistaken many examples of swords remarkably similar to kasthane exist from Thailand and Deccan, among others . Perhaps these outer influences account for some of the variations in these pommel heads, and in some cases they are indeed makara, while some are lions. Deraniyagala (1942) notes the auspicious creatures and symbols favored for such decorative purposes, and the lion is distinctly noted, but among others and interestingly the makara is not mentioned.

I think that the complexity of the ethnic mix and infusions from the mainland in addition to the colonial circumstances later, as well as the diffusion of the form into the trade networks , truly makes any arbitary classification or exacting analysis of these zoomorphic forms virtually impossible. In the broad scope I believe each example must be considered on its own merits, and as mentioned, the nature of the creature represented may lead to clues on the origin of the sword as in the examples outside Sri Lanka.
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:06 PM   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrasannaWeerakkody
Dear Ibrahiim

Sorry if you are offended by my using your name as Balooshi. I was not aware that it was in any way offensive to you. my regrets on this one. shall call you Ibrahiim from now on. My sincere apologies...

For whoever is interested I provided a rather basic outline of the main figures on a kasthana hilt based on the traditional Sinhala presentation of beast forms on my post dated 6th Oct 2012 Including Lion Makara and Serapendiya.

regards

Prasanna



Salaams PrasannaWeerakkody ~ Thank you for your posts and oddly enough I was actually reading back through and noted your reference to the Serapendiya and had already started looking into the link.

You have no idea how important it is to have such a specialist as yourself actually in country . It is so important. We have made staggering gains on the detail now on library which if you look back to #1 you will see where the start point was...at least on this thread.

I was amazed to learn from the anecdotal 1807 detail that the weapon was in fact also used as a badge of rank identifier and was at that time being produced in the Royal Sword workshops.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:25 PM   #185
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MANKIND HAS ALWAYS HAD A FACINATION WITH REAL CREATURES THAT ARE DANGEROUS LIONS (THE KING OF BEASTS), TIGERS, LEOPARDS, BEARS,BULLS, SNAKES, SHARKS ECT. WHEN PEOPLE TRAVELED AND TOLD STORIES ABOUT THESE CREATURES TO PEOPLE WHO HAD NEVER SEEN ONE THE STORIES WERE OFTEN EXAGERATED WHEN TOLD. THEN MORE STORIES MADE UP UNTIL THE CREATURE BECAME MORE THAN REAL AND MONSTERS WERE CREATED. SO A LION WOULD NOT HAVE EVER BEEN IN CEYLON FOR STORIES OF IT TO HAVE ARRIVED. NO DOUBT AS THE KING OF BEASTS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPRESSIVE AND HAVE MANY POWERS.
THE MONSTER WITH THE BIRDS BODY IS MOST LIKELY THE COCATRICE. THIS MYTH WAS CREATED AND SUPPOSIDLY WAS THE RESULT OF A COCK AND A SNAKE LAYING AN EGG AND HATCHING THIS MONSTER. ITS BREATH WAS DEADLY POSION AND IF IT LOOKED AT A PERSON THEY WOULD TURN TO STONE. THERE ARE EVEN INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF OR TO DESTROY ONE.
ALL THIS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT NEVER EXHISTED AND IS DIFFERENT LOOKING FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY.
THE MAKARAS ORIGIN WAS NO DOUBT IN HINDU AND BUDDHIST COUNTRIES AND HAS THE ATRIBUTES OF SEVERAL ANIMALS AS WELL AS MYSTICAL POWERS. THE LION LIKELY CAME AS STORIES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WHO TRADED THERE. WHEN THE PORTUGESE OR OTHER COUNTRIES TOOK POWER PERHAPS THE LION WAS SEEN AS MORE POWERFUL AS A RESULT AND ASCENDED IN PLACE TO THE SWORDS POMMEL.
THE ANSWERS ARE LOST IN TIME BUT IT DOES MAKE FOR A GOOD DISCUSSION AND IT DOSEN'T REALLY MATTER LION OR MAKARA WE EACH CAN CALL IT WHAT WE WILL.
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:41 PM   #186
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This truly has developed into a great discussion, and I'm glad this thread has been revived as it seems we are getting some excellent traction in examining the peculiarities of these fascinating swords. I would like to say that I sincerely appreciate the courtesy and candor you guys display in what are often considerably opposing views, and personally I would consider this discourse a discussion rather than 'debate'.
The purpose of debate is in my perception altogether different and is an exercise in presenting and defending with support , opposed views with the objective of having a winner and loser in more of a contest and display of skills in conflict.

Here I consider what we intend to achieve is fact finding and presenting plausible ideas and observations which add to the collective knowledge toward better understanding of the weapons we investigate.

In my own personal view, there are many potential answers here as to the zoomorphic figures represented on these examples of the 'kasthane' as with most weapon forms, the scope of variations is broad. There were no hard and fast rules or 'patterns' followed, though obviously there was a degree of set tradition as with these creatures, and these are interpretive as represented by the artisans over periods of time, different regions and nuanced desires of prospective clients for their arms.

As with many weapon forms which evolve into more vestigial forms with purposes outside the obviously combative origins, such as those which become court, dress or presentation swords, and in the cases in context of examples becoming religiously oriented for ceremony or votives...so too did the kasthane become more decorative and courtly.

It seems the first provenance example is that acquired in the Japanese voyage which returned to Japan in 1620. This embassy is of course well documented and while the sword itself was not acquired in Sinhala proper, but from Spanish source I believe. I am unclear on what location that interaction took place, but the distinct zoomorphic pommel head was in place by 1615 it would seem. As the sword was acquired by the Spanish royal court some time earlier, it would seem that kasthane of this form were present by at least late 16th c .

Looking into the extremely complex and diverse circumstances in then Sinhala gives numerous possibilities for the nature of the pommel heads and creatures on these swords, and it is interesting to note similar forms in South India and into the Deccan. If I am not mistaken many examples of swords remarkably similar to kasthane exist from Thailand and Deccan, among others . Perhaps these outer influences account for some of the variations in these pommel heads, and in some cases they are indeed makara, while some are lions. Deraniyagala (1942) notes the auspicious creatures and symbols favored for such decorative purposes, and the lion is distinctly noted, but among others and interestingly the makara is not mentioned.

I think that the complexity of the ethnic mix and infusions from the mainland in addition to the colonial circumstances later, as well as the diffusion of the form into the trade networks , truly makes any arbitary classification or exacting analysis of these zoomorphic forms virtually impossible. In the broad scope I believe each example must be considered on its own merits, and as mentioned, the nature of the creature represented may lead to clues on the origin of the sword as in the examples outside Sri Lanka.


Salaams Jim, Thank you for your post. Your consideration of the late 16th C seems plausible.
The presentation to the Japanese was apparently in the Philippines..see the map above. # 169. The blade looks European but I cant make out enough of its detail, though, it is said to have stamps on the blade. Perhaps that one and the Popham item are worth considering to see if they are from the same form thus perhaps the same workshop. Which brings me to my next point concerning artistic licence ...As you point out~ every artisan has their own idea moreover having a drawing is one thing but applying it to carving with horn or wood is another dimension; Each "Rankadu Pattala" (Royal Workshops) master craftsman interpreting the ancient culture in their own way.

In the same breath that is similar to the descriptive licence used by various agencies these days in writing about the Kastane Hilt as variously; Gargoyle, Dragon, Mythical creatures, Lions, Makara or Serapendiya ..all very interesting.

Equally you are right about the thread which is an excellent pool of detailed information and discussion.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:43 PM   #187
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
My point is I have no records nor have any surfaced as yet of blades with stamps or markings, which, for a blade said to have possibly been made in a joint Portuguese Sri Lankan workshop is odd. At any rate my comment is purely speculative in this regard as you will note it is only a suggestion..but your post is excellent and inspires a look into the Japanese presentation item.

Here is the weapon you speak of.. I cant see a blade mark but assume an European blade here...see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasekura_Tsunenaga

Described as; Indonesian kris and Ceylonese dagger (acquired in the Philippines), presented by Hasekura to Date Masamune upon his return; Sendai City Museum

Pictures of swords said to have been acquired in the Philippines and dated map of his travels. 1620 being key; Given the weapons at that time in the Philippines.


Dear Ibrahim,

regarding the information from Wikipedia regarding the travel of Hasekura Tsunenaga and acquisition of the weapons:

Actually he was leaving Spain in June 1617, so the 1616 on the map from wikipedia is a mistake.

The only scholar publications I am aware, which raise the question about provenance of keris and kastane are "A fundamental study on Hasekura's kastane and kris" (Bulletin of Sendai City Museum) and "The kastane and the kris, their arrival in Japan in 1620" (in Royal Armouries Yearbook, vol. 3, Leeds), both written by Sasaki Kazuhiro, curator of Sendai City Museum, in 1998. Before there are only two publications of Sendai City Museum from 1988 and 1995.

Sasaki Kazuhiro has the oppinion, both keris and kastane are presented to Hasekura Tsunenaga by Philip III. Here in short he's points and other interesting details:

Among the 52 mementos that Hasekura brought to Japan, only three were presented to Date clan: portrait of Pope Paul V, kastane and keris.

Date Masamune drafted official letters only to Pope, the mayor of Sevilla and King Philipp III.

Masamune allowed Hasekura to take care of all official contacts with dignitaries in other countries.

Masamune obviously had great interest in the messages and gifts these figures bestoved on Hasekura.

Then Sasaki Kazuhiro writes:

"If we suppose Masamune requested only the articles from the three men he deemed most critical, then the two swords should have come from one of these three men. (...) it seems much more likely the Namban swords were a gift from Philipp III. This would also explain the reason these gifts made their way to the Masamune collection, while presents from dignitaries in other locales were allowed to remain in the Hasekura collection.

(...) Certainly, Philipp III knew Date Masamune would be pleased with the presentation of the swords, as he had been presented eight armours and one sword by Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada and the former Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu as a sign of friendship between the two countries. Howewer, he could not present Spanish arms to Date Masamune because the presentation of Spanish arms to a foreigner was then prohibited by law."

Here are the detail pictures of this kastane. The blade of it is the only straight one I have seen fitted as a Kastane and is a very interesting one. There are two markings on this blade, and one of them clearly is of christian origin, yet I suppose, we could conclude with some certainty that the whole blade isn't made in Europe. Curiously enough, its decoration and fullering reminds me of some chinese swords, like the one in book of Robert Hales, page 197; - yet the chinese blades of this type are (always?) slightly curved.

It is perhaps not widely known, yet Sri Lanka was nominally a vasal state of the Ming Imperium from 1411 on, and sent three more ambassys to China, 1436, 1445 and 1459.

Regarding the central pommel figure, it almost always is clearly a lion indeed. There is a fair amount of objects made of ivory from Sri Lanka, which entered the european "Kunstkammer" collections at the end of the 16 century. Lion always plays a prominent character and is stylistically very close to the pommel figure of this kastane. The one depicted was acquired before 1542.

And here a link to the post of Prasanna Weerakkody, which is quite informative indeed:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...09&postcount=23
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Old 15th January 2014, 06:19 PM   #188
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
Dear Ibrahim,

regarding the information from Wikipedia regarding the travel of Hasekura Tsunenaga and acquisition of the weapons:

Actually he was leaving Spain in June 1617, so the 1616 on the map from wikipedia is a mistake.

The only scholar publications I am aware, which raise the question about provenance of keris and kastane are "A fundamental study on Hasekura's kastane and kris" (Bulletin of Sendai City Museum) and "The kastane and the kris, their arrival in Japan in 1620" (in Royal Armouries Yearbook, vol. 3, Leeds), both written by Sasaki Kazuhiro, curator of Sendai City Museum, in 1998. Before there are only two publications of Sendai City Museum from 1988 and 1995.

Sasaki Kazuhiro has the oppinion, both keris and kastane are presented to Hasekura Tsunenaga by Philip III. Here in short he's points and other interesting details:

Among the 52 mementos that Hasekura brought to Japan, only three were presented to Date clan: portrait of Pope Paul V, kastane and keris.

Date Masamune drafted official letters only to Pope, the mayor of Sevilla and King Philipp III.

Masamune allowed Hasekura to take care of all official contacts with dignitaries in other countries.

Masamune obviously had great interest in the messages and gifts these figures bestoved on Hasekura.

Then Sasaki Kazuhiro writes:

"If we suppose Masamune requested only the articles from the three men he deemed most critical, then the two swords should have come from one of these three men. (...) it seems much more likely the Namban swords were a gift from Philipp III. This would also explain the reason these gifts made their way to the Masamune collection, while presents from dignitaries in other locales were allowed to remain in the Hasekura collection.

(...) Certainly, Philipp III knew Date Masamune would be pleased with the presentation of the swords, as he had been presented eight armours and one sword by Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada and the former Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu as a sign of friendship between the two countries. Howewer, he could not present Spanish arms to Date Masamune because the presentation of Spanish arms to a foreigner was then prohibited by law."

Here are the detail pictures of this kastane. The blade of it is the only straight one I have seen fitted as a Kastane and is a very interesting one. There are two markings on this blade, and one of them clearly is of christian origin, yet I suppose, we could conclude with some certainty that the whole blade isn't made in Europe. Curiously enough, its decoration and fullering reminds me of some chinese swords, like the one in book of Robert Hales, page 197; - yet the chinese blades of this type are (always?) slightly curved.

It is perhaps not widely known, yet Sri Lanka was nominally a vasal state of the Ming Imperium from 1411 on, and sent three more ambassys to China, 1436, 1445 and 1459.

Regarding the central pommel figure, it almost always is clearly a lion indeed. There is a fair amount of objects made of ivory from Sri Lanka, which entered the european "Kunstkammer" collections at the end of the 16 century. Lion always plays a prominent character and is stylistically very close to the pommel figure of this kastane. The one depicted was acquired before 1542.

And here a link to the post of Prasanna Weerakkody, which is quite informative indeed:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...09&postcount=23



Salaams Gustav, That is so brilliant. I cannot thank you enough for this excellent supporting detail. Not only finely written but the excellent pictures are so helpful in this discussion. Thank you Sir !

Pictures 3, 4, 5, appear to display 3. Lion. 4.Serapendiya. 5.Makara.

The marks on the blade will have us diving for the books!

The Hilt form comprises the Gargoyle style influenced by the mythical Lion, Makara or other ancient Buddhist Deities with supporting smaller dragons, miniature Makara or Nagas on the finials thereafter.

Blade form...The blade marks to one side for a moment.. I have to say my first impression on blade shape is not Sri Lankan but Chinese..which begs the question ...Were the Chinese importing Kastane or exporting the form? They were certainly involved as you point out... and we know the trade patterns of Chinese junks even to the Red Sea...Did the Kastane now in the Japanese Museum arrive in the Philipines by Chinese ship. If it was delivered to the Philipines which way did it come from? Was it brought from Sri Lanka direct or via the long way round across the Atlantic?

The Spanish East Indies were ruled as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and administered from Mexico City from 1565 to 1821.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 15th January 2014, 07:12 PM   #189
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Salaams All ~ Or Storta !!
Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 15th January 2014, 10:56 PM   #190
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Dear Gustav,

Thank you for bringing these detailed images forth and indeed Prasanna Weerakkody's post you linked is quite informative and well founded from the start.

Dear Ibrihiim,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
In the same breath that is similar to the descriptive licence used by various agencies these days in writing about the Kastane Hilt as variously; Gargoyle, Dragon, Mythical creatures, Lions, Makara or Serapendiya ..all very interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
The Hilt form comprises the Gargoyle style influenced by the mythical Lion, Makara or other ancient Buddhist Deities with supporting smaller dragons, miniature Makara or Nagas on the finials thereafter.

Where are you now going with Gargoyles and Dragons?
Steer away from what you read "these days" unless the writings have direct reference and support from the old days.
With respect, I feel the these days experiences, writings and beliefs has clouded the reality of strong fighting sword types in your Oman dance sword thread...but back on point.

Hasn't the discussion confirmed that the pommel is the Lion head, not a gargoyle influenced by the Lions head, I hope you are not now jumping from Makaras to Gargoyles...happy to work through the remainded of the icons and what creature owns the Lion head along with what appears on the quillons, quillon block and knuckle bow, followed by the blade types and perhaps any meanings and if required the scabbards found on the Kastane...but to do so we need to agree on a single sword to study and discuss to keep things on point, then once satisfied, bring other swords in to the discussion to add merit to what is found or add varient notes and study these varients.

I'd like to also add that whilst both misleading and valuable information has been gained in this thread, the focus has singlely become the Kastane hilt that lead to over a year of walking down the garden path. The initial thread/question posted was about the swords of Sri lanka, perhaps we can diverse a little and consider other types too. Some very fine images have already been provided but the focus of the topic has been lost to the Kastane alone.

Gavin
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Old 16th January 2014, 09:07 AM   #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
Dear Gustav,

Thank you for bringing these detailed images forth and indeed Prasanna Weerakkody's post you linked is quite informative and well founded from the start.

Dear Ibrihiim,


Where are you now going with Gargoyles and Dragons?
Steer away from what you read "these days" unless the writings have direct reference and support from the old days.
With respect, I feel the these days experiences, writings and beliefs has clouded the reality of strong fighting sword types in your Oman dance sword thread...but back on point.

Hasn't the discussion confirmed that the pommel is the Lion head, not a gargoyle influenced by the Lions head, I hope you are not now jumping from Makaras to Gargoyles...happy to work through the remainded of the icons and what creature owns the Lion head along with what appears on the quillons, quillon block and knuckle bow, followed by the blade types and perhaps any meanings and if required the scabbards found on the Kastane...but to do so we need to agree on a single sword to study and discuss to keep things on point, then once satisfied, bring other swords in to the discussion to add merit to what is found or add varient notes and study these varients.

I'd like to also add that whilst both misleading and valuable information has been gained in this thread, the focus has singlely become the Kastane hilt that lead to over a year of walking down the garden path. The initial thread/question posted was about the swords of Sri lanka, perhaps we can diverse a little and consider other types too. Some very fine images have already been provided but the focus of the topic has been lost to the Kastane alone.

Gavin



Salaams ...SwordsAntiqueWeapons Yes, you are advised to stick to the point as mixing the two is not going to assist this case and certainly of no value in the other.

I don't want to list the heap of notes from auctioneers museums and Kastane descriptions offering the variety of explanations on the style... it runs to a lot... when in fact my simple array covers most of them as Gargoyles
Mythical creature Makara, Lion, Naga, Seren...etc etc ... which is a reasonable way to describe this phenomena since at the end of the day it is an artisans impression thus no two are identical...and indeed there were many artisans.

This thread is about the Kastane. If you wish to diversify please carry on~ the ink is free... but I would consider if I were you ... in the case of another sword, opening a new thread... unless it be related to the Kastane.

There are great new avenues opening not least the new information hitherto not recorded on library except in passing... like the fine details just recieved on the Japanese Museum item and the anecdotal evidence from 1807 etc etc making this thread far from a stroll down the same path alluded to by you.. and marked by the high readership of now more than 13,000 hits...so somebody is reading the thread, no?

All input is very much appreciated and it should be remembered that this is a joint forum effort and that there is a lot more to do.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 16th January 2014, 09:44 AM   #192
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It's, how should I say... "gargoyling" also at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kastane

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Old 16th January 2014, 10:05 AM   #193
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Dear Ibrihiim,

Please refer to the first post, the thread starter is actually wanting to know about swords from the country, not just the kastane in its solitude...but I guess your blinkers are on again...like the lack of direct answers to my questions posed to you.

The duality of your comments vs actions, ie, of your long winded threads about Makara pommels leading to the depths of god knows where to now wanting to reduce data placed in the pages by simply addressing the important mythical creatures to Gargoyles and again completely overlooking the importance of the Sri Lankan Lion motifs surprises me greatly.

I am not aware of why you would want to draw from every auctioneer and sales point about how they describe the kastane...I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

Ibrihiim, please, and I am not detracting from the importance of this discussion forum and the members efforts, but please understand 13000+ people have not read this thread. The counter to the sidebar is a hits counter...only the forum owners would be able to drill down the urchin statistics and advise on dwell time by readers etc...this is how the internet works...12000 of the hits may have only been a 2 minute search by readers who found the thread through key words searches...no doubt now misinformed about important icons.

It is at this point that I opt out of this discussion and perhaps I will come back n another 12 months. Best of luck with Gargoyles and Dragons.

Gavin

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Old 16th January 2014, 02:42 PM   #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons
Dear Ibrihiim,

Please refer to the first post, the thread starter is actually wanting to know about swords from the country, not just the kastane in its solitude...but I guess your blinkers are on again...like the lack of direct answers to my questions posed to you.

The duality of your comments vs actions, ie, of your long winded threads about Makara pommels leading to the depths of god knows where to now wanting to reduce data placed in the pages by simply addressing the important mythical creatures to Gargoyles and again completely overlooking the importance of the Sri Lankan Lion motifs surprises me greatly.

I am not aware of why you would want to draw from every auctioneer and sales point about how they describe the kastane...I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

Ibrihiim, please, and I am not detracting from the importance of this discussion forum and the members efforts, but please understand 13000+ people have not read this thread. The counter to the sidebar is a hits counter...only the forum owners would be able to drill down the urchin statistics and advise on dwell time by readers etc...this is how the internet works...12000 of the hits may have only been a 2 minute search by readers who found the thread through key words searches...no doubt now misinformed about important icons.

It is at this point that I opt out of this discussion and perhaps I will come back n another 12 months. Best of luck with Gargoyles and Dragons.

Gavin



Salaams SwordsAntiqueWeapons. It is noted that you have opted out of this thread but sadly for the wrong reasons since I have broadened the descriptive wording in describing the Kastane Hilt to encompass the rich mythical style inherited from Buddhism and in blending the variety of Deities including Makara, Lions, Kirtimukha Serapendiya, Nagas, crocodile/human monsters and other dragon and gargoyle like effigies ...and according to the artistic idiosyncrasies of the day plus realizing that no two artists may interpret a monster like form in exactly the same way. Then there is the added function of form change where depending from which viewpoint it may be observed the mythical beast may be in one of 5 different forms...So understandably there is some discussion.

Not participating, whilst it is your free choice, is regrettable but hopefully you will rejoin at some stage as your input has been much appreciated...and as I have noted ... If you want to branch out and include any weapon related to ... or in the broader context of #1 any weapons in the Sri Lankan armoury...the ink is free... here or another thread its entirely up to you.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 16th January 2014 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 16th January 2014, 03:26 PM   #195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
It's, how should I say... "gargoyling" also at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kastane



Salaams Gustav... For what its worth I have never seen two descriptions the same... and for that matter no two Kastane the same ...Here are a few from important museums collectors and specialists but there are scores more all placing into the rich descriptive mixture a host of different images. I think the description at your reference is fairly near the artistic licence required to balance the equation. It ought to be as it took me a while to write !

The Victoria and Albert Museum.
Vand A;The kastane is the national sword of Sri Lanka. It typically has a short curved single-edged blade, double-edged at the point. The hilt comprises a knuckle-guard and down-turned quillons, each terminating in a dragon's head. The swords were intended to serve as badges of rank; the quality of ornamentation depending on the status of the wearer.The establishment of European trading contacts with South Asia by the late 16th and early 17th century led to these swords becoming fashionable dress accessories among European gentlemen.

St Petersberg 1850…Mounted in heavily cast and chased silver-gilt, the hilt in traditional Sinhalese style elaborately decorated with guilloche, fluting and panels of engraved foliage and florets, with the pommel and quillon formed as the stylised heads of lions and the ogee-shaped knucklebow emerging at the quillon from the mouth of a beast and terminating at the pommel in the stylised head of a dragon, the eyes of all the beasts on the hilt formed of cabochon-cut garnets or rubies.

Chrispties ~A SINHALESE SWORD (KASTANE) SRI LANKA, 18TH CENTURY
With curved single-edged inscribed blade with single fuller along the back-edge on each side, the decoration with foliated scrolls, the wood and bronze hilt with applied silver and brass panels, the guard of characteristic form with openwork head of a mythical beast, the grip carved with scrollwork and with dragon's head pommel.

Robert Elgood. From The earliest kastane of this form that can be accurately dated was taken to Japan in 1630 where it still exists. The form scarcely changes over the next two hundred years. The pommel is invariably decorated with the snub-nosed Sinhalese lion while the lion-like serapendiya is found on the quillon and guard ends. Most kastane blades were made locally but some utilise cut down European sword blades. Kastane were symbols of rank and later examples take the same form but are covered in sheet silver and inset with precious stones whilst the blades become ornamental.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 16th January 2014, 05:55 PM   #196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Gustav... For what its worth I have never seen two descriptions the same... and for that matter no two Kastane the same ...Here are a few from important museums collectors and specialists but there are scores more all placing into the rich descriptive mixture a host of different images. I think the description at your reference is fairly near the artistic licence required to balance the equation. It ought to be as it took me a while to write !

Ibrahiim, are you saying that you wrote the Wikipedia page for the kastane that Gustav linked to above? I hope not because it is the epitome of why Wikipedia is so distained though out most of the academic world. This short entry provides very little real information other than description of what a kastane looks like, something which could be achieved far better simply by making a google image search to look at all the fine visual examples available on the internet. The article also provides absolutely no scholarly references or footnotes, a no-no even for Wikipedia pages, only providing links to mostly commercial sites. BTW, the Antique Roadshow (from the link on this entry) is notoriously bad at assessing ethnographic arms. I had to school them on keris when i went to the Roadshow and i was just in discussion with a guy who said they told him his Javanese keris was and archaic Moro kris. While the guy in the kastane link didn't seem to say anything particularly wrong in his appraisal he added no information regarding the symbolism of the hilt whatsoever.
Pointing to your "important museums collectors and specialists", the first description (Victoria & Albert Museum) is describing the ends of the quillons as "dragon heads", not the pommel. Seems to me these quillon beasts are generally makara or serapendiya in most examples i've seen, but this entry says nothing of the pommel, which seems to be the point of the most heated discussions here.
I'm afraid i have no idea what "St. Peterberg 1850" is supposed to be, but they clearly refer to the pommel as a stylized lion head just as so many others here have already maintained. It is again the quillon ends that are described as dragon heads and again, we here all seem to know better and recognize them as makara or serapendiya.
Chrispties (i can only assume that you meant Christie's) is a renown auction house that sells any sort of antiques and other items of value. As such they are really more "generalists" than "specialists" and i have found that auction houses in general are notoriously misinformed on ethnographic edged weapons so i am not at all surprised that they would misidentify the kastane pommel as a dragon head. Auction houses are most concerned with getting the highest price possible for the items they auction. Accurate descriptions do not always factor into that equation.
Robert Elgood's entry is really the only entry worthy of consideration here as it comes from an established and generally well received and excepted reference book on the subject of ethnographic weapons. Note that Elgood states that the pommel is invariably decorated with the snub-nosed Sinhalese lion, something which i believe at this point most of us seem to understand as true.
I'm not sure where you want to take this thread at this point Ibrahiim, as long-standing members who have tried to stay with this discussion for so long begin to flee, but i think that at this point you are, to coin a phrase,"beating a dead gargoyle".
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Old 16th January 2014, 06:48 PM   #197
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This discussion continues to become more fascinating, for me personally because it has returned me to research from over 15 years ago on the kasthane which I realize now was dramatically incomplete. I do recall the material on the Keicho mission and Hasekura, and I cannot thank Gustav enough for posting this keenly important data and those remarkably telling images.

Also important are the details about the connections to Ming China in the 15th century. Clearly Sri Lanka was a profoundly important trade center far back in history and the study of this history is extremely complex as well as essential in truly understanding the networks and influences involved here.

The only data I have on the Hasekura reference is a news article of 1998 by Dr. de Silva of the National Museum. In this he notes some of the material mentioned in the articles posted by Gustav, and that there were a number of kasthane with carved ivory hilts (examples in the V&A in London and another in Belgium) which date from about 1415-67 . He describes the head as sinha (=lion), and this would set the terminus post quem for these hilts at least to c.1415 with sinha or lions heads.

With regard to the blade on the Hasekura kasthane I think Ibrahiim has made a remarkable suggestion, that this is either an Italian storta blade or one heavily influenced by them. As has been noted, this blade shape which is relatively broad and with a peak and yelman toward the tip is very much like Chinese dao blades, however these are typically later.

What seems plausible is the blade profile seen on this example, which is set in the period of the Hasekura mission (returned to Japan 1620) is of Venetian storta shape . The markings, the crowned N in particular , appear to be in an Italian 'style' and at the forte, the blocked ricasso form seems quite evident on Italian swords.
With this I checked "Armi Bianchi Italiene" (Boccia & Coelho, Milan, 1975) and as I opened to #386, I was stunned as I viewed that example of storta with virtually the same blade, and examples #387 and #388 all the same and all had either human or zoomorphic lion heads. These are shown as rm Venice c.1550-54. The hilts are simple 'S' guard (opposed up and down quillons) but essentially the same system as the kastane without the central downturned quillons at the blade.

As Anthony North well explained in his 1975 article ("A Late 15th Century Italian Sword", Connoisseuer Dec 1975 p.239) these Italian swords are remarkably linked to the nimchas of North Africa and as far east as Ceylon as he cites Charles Buttin ("Les Poignards et les Sabres Marocains", Hesperis, Tome XXVI, 1939) who drew the same theories.

Clearly Sri Lanka was well known from far earlier times and referred to as Taprobane by the Greeks, later Serandib by the Arabs and by 1505 Ceilao by the Portuguese. The range of trade with Venice is well known as well, as well as their contacts with China, Arabs, India, North Africa etc. and as we have seen, the Ming dynasty was linked with Ceylon as early as the 15th century.

I am tempted to consider the remarkable similarities of the dragon like 'fu dogs' or lions in China, though admittedly a free association thought which comes to mind as we factor in China here. We also have the possibility of provenance examples of lion head pommel kasthane as early as 15th c. (as mentioned by deSilva in his 1998 article).

We now see a blade of clearly storta form deriving from Venice, whether fitered through from China or direct contact and from mid 16th century.
We cannot help but wonder if perhaps these European zoomorphic hilts might have derived from oriental influences rather than vice versa.

I think here the key point of our discussion is the general hilt form of the sword we know as the kasthane and its development. It is clear that the stylized monster or zoomorphic pommel head has experienced dramatic license in the profoundly wide range of these hilts, and as J.F Pieris ("A Royal Dagger from Ceylon", Connoisseur, 1938. p.24) has observed the mystical creatures portrayed on the elements of these hilts, in this case referring primarily to the serepediya, the decorative qualities have been freely exploited by the artisans.

Therefore I would recommend once again that we continue the discussion with focus more on the development on the sword form itself, and that the nature or identification of the creatures represented be confined to each variant example itself. We should avoid broad assertions on the nature of these decorative elements concerning the kasthane overall, especially considering the volatility of the geopolitical status of Sri Lanka through so many centuries of history, as well as the well clouded circumstances of colonial intervention .



Addendum:
In further looking through Boccia & Coelho, the basic structure of these hilts in Italy becomes apparent in examples of storta and early schiavona (c. 1480-1500) with upward and downward quillons on crossguard and branched upswept knuckleguard. The inner 'crab claw' type appendages which become entirely vestigial on the kastane hilts in general seem to reflect these from a number of Italian and even Nasrid hist types.
Most of the Italian examples I viewed were those of mid to end of 16th c. but the shiavona type carries back to c.1480, so the quillon system seems quite old, but essentially Italian.
Re: the markings, the use of capital M with cross and orb over it occurred and the flueret design used with it similar to many quillon terminals seen.
DeSilva noted that Thom Richardson stated he thought the letter on the Hasekura blade indicated ownership rather than a makers mark.

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 16th January 2014 at 10:52 PM. Reason: adding details
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Old 17th January 2014, 03:03 AM   #198
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This thread rapidly went down an interesting path.

I would like to add to Jim's post with the fact that this thread is intended for not just kastane, but also all other Sri Lankan sword forms. I think there were narrow "cutlass" with "d-guards" that were more common in more recent times, and various ancient forms... but my knowledge of all this is very limited. And, it is my impression, correct me if I'm wrong, that especially in the latter days of the kastane, it was less of an actually widespread fighting weapon than a symbol of rank, authority, and status... and the quality of the blade declined... where-as other sword forms were more popular in the days that swords (and spear, bow, cudgel..) were widespread and popular weapons in Sri Lanka...
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Old 17th January 2014, 02:04 PM   #199
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Ibrahiim, are you saying that you wrote the Wikipedia page for the kastane that Gustav linked to above? I hope not because it is the epitome of why Wikipedia is so distained though out most of the academic world. This short entry provides very little real information other than description of what a kastane looks like, something which could be achieved far better simply by making a google image search to look at all the fine visual examples available on the internet. The article also provides absolutely no scholarly references or footnotes, a no-no even for Wikipedia pages, only providing links to mostly commercial sites. BTW, the Antique Roadshow (from the link on this entry) is notoriously bad at assessing ethnographic arms. I had to school them on keris when i went to the Roadshow and i was just in discussion with a guy who said they told him his Javanese keris was and archaic Moro kris. While the guy in the kastane link didn't seem to say anything particularly wrong in his appraisal he added no information regarding the symbolism of the hilt whatsoever.
Pointing to your "important museums collectors and specialists", the first description (Victoria & Albert Museum) is describing the ends of the quillons as "dragon heads", not the pommel. Seems to me these quillon beasts are generally makara or serapendiya in most examples i've seen, but this entry says nothing of the pommel, which seems to be the point of the most heated discussions here.
I'm afraid i have no idea what "St. Peterberg 1850" is supposed to be, but they clearly refer to the pommel as a stylized lion head just as so many others here have already maintained. It is again the quillon ends that are described as dragon heads and again, we here all seem to know better and recognize them as makara or serapendiya.
Chrispties (i can only assume that you meant Christie's) is a renown auction house that sells any sort of antiques and other items of value. As such they are really more "generalists" than "specialists" and i have found that auction houses in general are notoriously misinformed on ethnographic edged weapons so i am not at all surprised that they would misidentify the kastane pommel as a dragon head. Auction houses are most concerned with getting the highest price possible for the items they auction. Accurate descriptions do not always factor into that equation.
Robert Elgood's entry is really the only entry worthy of consideration here as it comes from an established and generally well received and excepted reference book on the subject of ethnographic weapons. Note that Elgood states that the pommel is invariably decorated with the snub-nosed Sinhalese lion, something which i believe at this point most of us seem to understand as true.
I'm not sure where you want to take this thread at this point Ibrahiim, as long-standing members who have tried to stay with this discussion for so long begin to flee, but i think that at this point you are, to coin a phrase,"beating a dead gargoyle".


Salaams David, Your post is bewildering. You continue to describe the ranks of forum members fleeing this thread (when in fact there is one only who has decided to call it a day for now. )

The Wikepedia link is by no means complete and it will mature as the detail comes in. I have planned a pictorial account though at the moment as you must surely appreciate there are conflicting Hilt styles as described ... and for example I can show a monster Hilt form and a Lion Hilt looking form... Right now, for example, I am looking at the two earlier extant variants which look like each being drawn from different Deities (the Japanese Museum and the art work of the Popham Armour)... maybe they were made in a different workshop and by different artists and with a slightly irregular idea in their minds of what Deity to fashion... artistic impression?

On the various comments by auction houses I cannot fathom your criticism since I never said they were written in stone...these are simply descriptions..and there are many more examples ...which was the reason for their inclusion..as having added to the conundrum. The inclusion of the Russian source at St Petersburg is easy to comprehend but I will add to that to clarify where a sword thus marked has arrived from... see https://www.pinterest.com/karleighvestal/swords/.
By the way, without wishing to jump to the defence of auction houses, these big outfits often have superb research departments and highly specialized people therein.

Obviously the Elgood description is placed for accuracy but also to show the generic wording often used in the Kastane Hilt descriptions.

In reference to links on Wikepedia I beg to differ Sir, since the finest reference to the developing story is of our own Forum and this thread.

I don't think I am beating a dead horse moreover your comment may be misunderstood since we usually give constructive criticism and this is certainly not. The thread is progressing, albeit slowly, and as contributors we have a duty to expose the facts especially in an area so badly illuminated before.

Regarding the term Gargoyle please simply type into web search the term Makara Gargoyle then after that is considered type in Lion Gargoyle..Do you not then think that Gargoyle is a reasonable descriptive? I would add the word Grotesque as well.

The following are very recently added so how can you say the thread is not progressing? viz;

1.The excellent detail already exhumed plus the added details on "Rankadu Pattala" and the 1807 revelation that the sword was considered as a rank indicator are facts not well laid out before.

2.The detail on the Japanese Museum piece perhaps showing the blade mark now being traced is fascinating.

3.The Extraordinary blade possibly Storta is a delight to see... and ponder over.

4.The new picture of the Sri Lankan VIP wearing the Kastane is amazing.

I still have the drive determination and effort to continue even if others have not for now... and in an effort to display encouragement to others ... members and non members alike I continue to shine a light into the dark corners of this subject.


Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

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Old 17th January 2014, 02:14 PM   #200
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KuKulzA28
This thread rapidly went down an interesting path.

I would like to add to Jim's post with the fact that this thread is intended for not just kastane, but also all other Sri Lankan sword forms. I think there were narrow "cutlass" with "d-guards" that were more common in more recent times, and various ancient forms... but my knowledge of all this is very limited. And, it is my impression, correct me if I'm wrong, that especially in the latter days of the kastane, it was less of an actually widespread fighting weapon than a symbol of rank, authority, and status... and the quality of the blade declined... where-as other sword forms were more popular in the days that swords (and spear, bow, cudgel..) were widespread and popular weapons in Sri Lanka...



Salaams KuKulzA28 Yes it is an interesting path and I am very grateful you opened the door to it. I had been studying Kastane for quite some time previously and your opener seemed to me a reasonable opportunity to examine this weapon though as you quite rightly note there are other weapons worth looking at ... though again as you say we went off down the Kastane path twisting and turning.

In fact I noted in looking at Martial Arts weapons cutlass forms incorporating the Kastane style blade being used though it seems they came about post Portuguese. There are scores of weapons in the Ancient Martial Art format in Sri Lanka..Angampora.

I'm certain other weapons can be added like the Piha Keatta clearly of similar design structure and other swords and weapons ~ spears n' guns. Feel free since this is your thread ...Lets do it !

Thank you for your post.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 17th January 2014 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 17th January 2014, 02:40 PM   #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This discussion continues to become more fascinating, for me personally because it has returned me to research from over 15 years ago on the kasthane which I realize now was dramatically incomplete. I do recall the material on the Keicho mission and Hasekura, and I cannot thank Gustav enough for posting this keenly important data and those remarkably telling images.

Also important are the details about the connections to Ming China in the 15th century. Clearly Sri Lanka was a profoundly important trade center far back in history and the study of this history is extremely complex as well as essential in truly understanding the networks and influences involved here.

The only data I have on the Hasekura reference is a news article of 1998 by Dr. de Silva of the National Museum. In this he notes some of the material mentioned in the articles posted by Gustav, and that there were a number of kasthane with carved ivory hilts (examples in the V&A in London and another in Belgium) which date from about 1415-67 . He describes the head as sinha (=lion), and this would set the terminus post quem for these hilts at least to c.1415 with sinha or lions heads.

With regard to the blade on the Hasekura kasthane I think Ibrahiim has made a remarkable suggestion, that this is either an Italian storta blade or one heavily influenced by them. As has been noted, this blade shape which is relatively broad and with a peak and yelman toward the tip is very much like Chinese dao blades, however these are typically later.

What seems plausible is the blade profile seen on this example, which is set in the period of the Hasekura mission (returned to Japan 1620) is of Venetian storta shape . The markings, the crowned N in particular , appear to be in an Italian 'style' and at the forte, the blocked ricasso form seems quite evident on Italian swords.
With this I checked "Armi Bianchi Italiene" (Boccia & Coelho, Milan, 1975) and as I opened to #386, I was stunned as I viewed that example of storta with virtually the same blade, and examples #387 and #388 all the same and all had either human or zoomorphic lion heads. These are shown as rm Venice c.1550-54. The hilts are simple 'S' guard (opposed up and down quillons) but essentially the same system as the kastane without the central downturned quillons at the blade.

As Anthony North well explained in his 1975 article ("A Late 15th Century Italian Sword", Connoisseuer Dec 1975 p.239) these Italian swords are remarkably linked to the nimchas of North Africa and as far east as Ceylon as he cites Charles Buttin ("Les Poignards et les Sabres Marocains", Hesperis, Tome XXVI, 1939) who drew the same theories.

Clearly Sri Lanka was well known from far earlier times and referred to as Taprobane by the Greeks, later Serandib by the Arabs and by 1505 Ceilao by the Portuguese. The range of trade with Venice is well known as well, as well as their contacts with China, Arabs, India, North Africa etc. and as we have seen, the Ming dynasty was linked with Ceylon as early as the 15th century.

I am tempted to consider the remarkable similarities of the dragon like 'fu dogs' or lions in China, though admittedly a free association thought which comes to mind as we factor in China here. We also have the possibility of provenance examples of lion head pommel kasthane as early as 15th c. (as mentioned by deSilva in his 1998 article).

We now see a blade of clearly storta form deriving from Venice, whether fitered through from China or direct contact and from mid 16th century.
We cannot help but wonder if perhaps these European zoomorphic hilts might have derived from oriental influences rather than vice versa.

I think here the key point of our discussion is the general hilt form of the sword we know as the kasthane and its development. It is clear that the stylized monster or zoomorphic pommel head has experienced dramatic license in the profoundly wide range of these hilts, and as J.F Pieris ("A Royal Dagger from Ceylon", Connoisseur, 1938. p.24) has observed the mystical creatures portrayed on the elements of these hilts, in this case referring primarily to the serepediya, the decorative qualities have been freely exploited by the artisans.

Therefore I would recommend once again that we continue the discussion with focus more on the development on the sword form itself, and that the nature or identification of the creatures represented be confined to each variant example itself. We should avoid broad assertions on the nature of these decorative elements concerning the kasthane overall, especially considering the volatility of the geopolitical status of Sri Lanka through so many centuries of history, as well as the well clouded circumstances of colonial intervention .



Addendum:
In further looking through Boccia & Coelho, the basic structure of these hilts in Italy becomes apparent in examples of storta and early schiavona (c. 1480-1500) with upward and downward quillons on crossguard and branched upswept knuckleguard. The inner 'crab claw' type appendages which become entirely vestigial on the kastane hilts in general seem to reflect these from a number of Italian and even Nasrid hist types.
Most of the Italian examples I viewed were those of mid to end of 16th c. but the shiavona type carries back to c.1480, so the quillon system seems quite old, but essentially Italian.
Re: the markings, the use of capital M with cross and orb over it occurred and the flueret design used with it similar to many quillon terminals seen.
DeSilva noted that Thom Richardson stated he thought the letter on the Hasekura blade indicated ownership rather than a makers mark.



Salaams Jim, Your post is as always brilliantly laid out and full of the most interesting and well researched notes... I wish my library was half as good.

I am pleased my Storta revelation was as interesting to you as it was to me as I almost fell off my chair !! You may recall it appears on the North African thread...with as it happens in the same picture as the blade ~a Lions Head.
How interesting ~it could be that lions head and other similar pommels may have been produced in Sri Lanka before the arrival of the Portuguese... and of course the staggering likeness of the Storta blades of Venice...both in the straighter broad form and the short curved variants... and the quillon and guard arrangements. The possibilities are mind boggling !

Last point next...The blade mark M according to your classic thread could be from Juan Martinez Menchaca..if in fact it is an M ... If its an N I have no idea!

I wondered if the Japanese writing under the picture was descriptive of the makers/owners mark?

In comparing early hilts I had hoped we could look at the artwork of the Popham and the actual hilt in the Japanese variant since these are two of the oldest available items and draw some comparisons.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 17th January 2014, 09:19 PM   #202
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I think my last post was a bit too long, and it is difficult to wade through that much data.
Regarding the storta blade matter. This is based on the images posted by Gustav in post #187 from the article on the Hasekura blade c.1620.
This reveals that this particular example has a blade of storta form with peak near the tip much as also seen on other similar examples such as from China . We cannot conclude that the blade form became universal, but it does suggest contact with trade from either Venice or China in that blade.

The markings are from the same post, #187 and it is distinctly an 'N' and similar to such markings on some Italian blades . As DeSilva noted in 1998, Thom Richardson suggests this would have likely been an owners mark.

The Japanese writing probably does refer to the nature of these marks.

I agree that close up views of the Popham hilt in comparison to this hilt would be beneficial to the discussion.
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Old 18th January 2014, 12:04 AM   #203
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Popham's kastane
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Old 18th January 2014, 07:46 AM   #204
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Salaams All,

Thank you Gustav for excellent picture of the artwork of the Popham Armour.

In comparing the Popham and Japanese variants I suggest that the two forms whilst emanating from a similar thought process by two very different artists even operating out of different Royal Workshops... is conveyed to the finished article with a great degree of artistic licence... The one being big cat Lion influence and the other perhaps a mythical beast form, perhaps the Serapendiya or the Makara but certainly evidenced by other mythical lesser Deities on the rest of the Hilt... smaller Makara or Naga types. The tail of the artwork at Popham spilling over lavishly onto the rainguard and scabbard region in foliate, fish-tail or peacock form. The entire form taking on occasional anthropomorphic attribute when joined with the half crocodile/ half human face to the hand guard and occasionally even seen with the face of another monster at/between the crossguard..The Kirtimukha.

Again regarding the main hilt subjects I cite artistic licence as we are after all looking at a painting on one hand and an artesans interpretation on the other... On the Popham, therefor, the description of mythical serpent form seems to fit better than a Lion style of interpretation.. though some may indicate an apparent mane which others view as scales or simply part of the myriad of devices contained on this multiple animal myth.

On the Japanese Museum item the hilt is more clearly viewed as a big cat... The Lion form quite obvious. Lesser deities appear as finials on the cross guard and hand guard and on the perhaps Pseudo Quillons which appear uncannily like Vajra finials; hardly surprising, however, since the Hindu Buddhist influence is huge on this hilt. The blade is incredible. Not only in its straight broad shape but in its apparent likeness to the Venice Storta style.

As yet no one has translated the Japanese detail defining what the stamp is... and it could be a makers or a stamp of ownership. The squiggle form is not known but may be a wolf mark done locally but not yet identified ?...nor translated..Significantly there is some sort of carving at the blade viewed as perhaps another monster or "gargoyle" and similar to the usual batch of varied possibilities. Artistically drawn it could be any of them.

The two forms perhaps indicate that each Kastane weapon be viewed quite on its own merit since there are clear differences in interpretation of the two early forms thus this is bound to be complicated... even compounded in the later centuries.

It is even doubtful that the precise creature can be identified (the main subject on the hilt), though, I think upon the minor deities we are a lot clearer. Lost also in the fog of time is the amazing discovery of potential Venetian Storta influence and perhaps it can only be considered as that... influence .. yet that is important.

In part the closeness of the dates of the transition to Japan and the involvement in the Indian Ocean of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka lends me to posit that the Royal Workshops could have worked in unison with Portuguese weapon makers in the earlier years.

The anecdotal evidence may support Royal Workshop involvement in the peculiar rank identity of officials wearing a certain quality of Kastane and though noted as 1807 may have been done earlier. Naturally having had three invader countries ravaging the country it is not surprising to be confronted with such a fog. Undoing the facts from fiction was never going to be easy. I am sure however that we have added much to the subject and apologies to those who have viewed the proceedings as somewhat stormy.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 18th January 2014 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 18th January 2014, 11:45 AM   #205
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Originally Posted by SwordsAntiqueWeapons


......the focus has singlely become the Kastane hilt that lead to over a year of walking down the garden path. The initial thread/question posted was about the swords of Sri lanka, perhaps we can diverse a little and consider other types too. Some very fine images have already been provided but the focus of the topic has been lost to the Kastane alone.

Gavin



Thanks, Gavin!

I am interested in belt swords, the Urumi of South India.
The classic Tamil/Karnataka version is of normal length, or perhaps slightly oversized, but looks like a normal Tulwar. They were presented in the Elgood's book as well as in the Tulwar's book describing Mysore palace.

Having gone to Wiki ( pardon me :-(((), I learned that there allegedly was a Singhalese version of it, called Ethunu Kaduwa, that was apparently multibladed and extraordinarily long ( picture of uncertain veracity attached).

Does anyone have any reliable information re. those swords?
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Old 19th January 2014, 05:22 AM   #206
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Originally Posted by ariel
Thanks, Gavin!

I am interested in belt swords, the Urumi of South India.
The classic Tamil/Karnataka version is of normal length, or perhaps slightly oversized, but looks like a normal Tulwar. They were presented in the Elgood's book as well as in the Tulwar's book describing Mysore palace.

Having gone to Wiki ( pardon me :-(((), I learned that there allegedly was a Singhalese version of it, called Ethunu Kaduwa, that was apparently multibladed and extraordinarily long ( picture of uncertain veracity attached).

Does anyone have any reliable information re. those swords?


Salaams Ariel, Thank you for adding this amazing weapon. According to http://www.historyrundown.com/tag/martial-arts/

Quote"1.Urumi
The Urumi is probably one of the most dangerous melee weapons in the entire history of weapons, not only for enemies, but also for the wielder himself. It originated in southern states of India, being known as far back as the Mauryan Empire.

Pair of multi-bladed urumi(ethunu kaduwa)
It is a very flexible longsword, usually made from steel or brass, 48–66 inches(122-168 cm) long, often treated as a metal whip. Urumi is often composed of multiple blades, attached to a single handle, in some variants used mainly in Sri Lanka the number of blades could be more than 30.

In the combat, warriors usually handle the urumi as a whip, swinging and spinning it around. This makes it especially efficient against multitude of enemies. While not being used, it is often worn as a belt, coiled around warrior’s waist.

In the medieval India, only the most well-trained Rajput warriors were allowed to practice with this whip-like sword, requiring perfect coordination, concentration and agility. Although not capable of slicing through armor, wounds inflicted from the swinging urumi could be often fatal." Unquote.

Note; From the same source; Mauryan Empire. An historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from about 322 to 185 BCE.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 19th January 2014, 06:05 PM   #207
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Ariel, The Ethuna kadu (Rolled up Sword) is not a mainstream weapon and is only still practiced by very few Angam martial artists in Sri Lanka. old examples of weapons seem virtually non-existent though some Angam schools still train with them. The person in the picture is Angam master Ajantha Mahantharachchi a friend of mine and among the few who are quite skilled at the use of the weapon in Sri Lanka. the movements seem more rotational than shown in the posted video clip and is effective in clearing a path 5-6 m. wide.

Vandoo- The link to Lions in Sinhala (Sinha=Lion - Sinhala literally means Lion people) goes back at least to two and a half millennia where the story links the ancestry of the Sinhala race to a Lion. it is not a recent acquisition. If you may note the Sri Lankan National flag is of a Lion carrying a Sword in hand. (not a Kasthana though )

Gustav, Thanks for the Images of the Hasekura Kasthane, It anyway seem quite a mixed up piece as even the guards and the ivory hilt seem to have different origins. to my knowledge the hilt seem to be of a later date stylistically and of a rather more crude craftsmanship. The blade obviously does not comply with Sinhala traditional design of Kasthana.
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Old 19th January 2014, 07:58 PM   #208
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Many thanks for the informative comment.

Are there any historic references to Ethuna Kadu in Sri Lankan sources?
When was its name and use mentioned first?




The problem is that when exotic, poorly known and " outlandish" Indian weapons are mentioned, many people respond that they are just modern Kalaripayattu inventions, designed to fool naive Westerners.


I hope your friend, in addition to being a master of this fascinating weapon, has factual knowledge about its history.
Many thanks in advance.
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Old 20th January 2014, 01:27 PM   #209
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Old 20th January 2014, 01:29 PM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prasanna Weerakkody
Ariel, The Ethuna kadu (Rolled up Sword) is not a mainstream weapon and is only still practiced by very few Angam martial artists in Sri Lanka. old examples of weapons seem virtually non-existent though some Angam schools still train with them. The person in the picture is Angam master Ajantha Mahantharachchi a friend of mine and among the few who are quite skilled at the use of the weapon in Sri Lanka. the movements seem more rotational than shown in the posted video clip and is effective in clearing a path 5-6 m. wide.

Vandoo- The link to Lions in Sinhala (Sinha=Lion - Sinhala literally means Lion people) goes back at least to two and a half millennia where the story links the ancestry of the Sinhala race to a Lion. it is not a recent acquisition. If you may note the Sri Lankan National flag is of a Lion carrying a Sword in hand. (not a Kasthana though )

Gustav, Thanks for the Images of the Hasekura Kasthane, It anyway seem quite a mixed up piece as even the guards and the ivory hilt seem to have different origins. to my knowledge the hilt seem to be of a later date stylistically and of a rather more crude craftsmanship. The blade obviously does not comply with Sinhala traditional design of Kasthana.



Salaams Prasanna Weerakkody ~ Your comments are both astute and very welcomed. The apparent presentation Kastane to the Japanese delegation may therefor be a reworked sword altogether and could even be a Storta with the addition of a Kastane hand and crossguard. See my post at #189 where there is a similar blade and hilt on two different exhibits in the same picture both which seem to be Storta. I note however that there is an interesting creature cut into the blade close to the point which may be mythical and Sri Lankan. The item may therefor be a hybrid; Something of mixed origin or composition.

Comparison of the Popham artwork and a non original Kastane would therefor seem premature, however, can you please access the earliest museum Kastane in Sri Lanka so that a more accurate assessment can be made?

I note your inclusion of your National Flag; From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Sri_Lanka Quote"It was adopted in 1950 following the recommendations of a committee appointed by the 1st Prime Minister of Ceylon, The Rt Hon D.S. Senanayake."Unquote.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.

Last edited by Ibrahiim al Balooshi : 20th January 2014 at 02:31 PM.
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