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Old 1st November 2016, 10:24 AM   #1
Anandalal N.
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Default Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Mahout's knives

These are two mahout's knives from Ceylon. Note the iconography on the grip. Each knife also has a snake (Cobra) on the downward facing surface of the grip. Shall try to post the images of the snakes later. As you can see, some attempt has been made during its utilitarian life at outlining the imagery with a white chalky substance. The blade as you can see has a clip point with false edge. Point is sharp perhaps more from a utilitarian perspective in order to sink into vegetable material more easily for the purpose of preparing the food for the elephant as well as small medical procedures etc. The knife lives in a sheath tucked into the waist belt of the mahout that secures his Sarong (waist cloth). Rgds.
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Old 1st November 2016, 01:32 PM   #2
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Hello Anandalal,

thank you for bringing these interesting knives up, they seems to be rather rare, I've seen only one before but never have known what it is.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 2nd November 2016, 11:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anandalal N.
These are two mahout's knives from Ceylon. Note the iconography on the grip. Each knife also has a snake (Cobra) on the downward facing surface of the grip. Shall try to post the images of the snakes later. As you can see, some attempt has been made during its utilitarian life at outlining the imagery with a white chalky substance. The blade as you can see has a clip point with false edge. Point is sharp perhaps more from a utilitarian perspective in order to sink into vegetable material more easily for the purpose of preparing the food for the elephant as well as small medical procedures etc. The knife lives in a sheath tucked into the waist belt of the mahout that secures his Sarong (waist cloth). Rgds.

Greetings Anandalal
These look like daggers from Indonesia
please could you post some pictures/examples showing they we used by mahouts
Regards Rajesh
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Old 2nd November 2016, 01:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BANDOOK
These look like daggers from Indonesia


Hello Rajesh,

nothing by this knives let think me that they could be from Indonesia.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 2nd November 2016, 03:34 PM   #5
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THANKS FOR POSTING THESE ITS ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE SOMETHING I WAS NOT AWARE OF. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ELEPHANT IN THE ANCIENT SOCIETY OF CEYLON CAN NOT BE OVER RATED. THE JOB OF MAHOUT WAS A HONORABLE ONE AND NO DOUBT ONE WITH LOTS OF RULES AND CEREMONY. THERE WAS SPECIAL CARE AND REGALIA FOR THE ELEPHANT SO HAVING A SPECIAL KNIFE ALONG WITH OTHER TOOLS SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE. THE MAHOUT WAS THE SERVANT OF THE ELEPHANT AND FRIEND NOT ITS KEEPER AND IT WAS AN IMPORTANT JOB. DO THEY STILL CARRY THIS SORT OF KNIFE AND ARE THEY AS FANCY AS THESE OLD EXAMPLES?

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Old 2nd November 2016, 05:51 PM   #6
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Detlef - Glad it is useful.

Rajesh - I must thank you for calling me on to the mat on this one. These I was informed were sourced from Mahouts. So they are of course authentic and my research confirms same. Of course if there is an Indonesian connection that is very interesting and should be pursued. Please let me have some references if possible. The following image shows a larger but less elaborate knife of the same type from the following web page - http://www.going-gypsy.com/207285007

The caption to the image is self explanatory and reads as follows:

"Ananda is Ranmenika's mahout and our boss when we're around her. One of the coordinators told us that Ananda's mahout knife was falling apart. There is a special village that makes mahout's knives so with the other mahouts' help we arranged to get Ananda a new one."

[Ananda the Mahout and Ranmenika the elephant]

The image shows a larger knife with the clip point and the 'guard' formed of a projection of the blade itself. This would be useful even in a working knife so that the finger does not accidentally slip onto the blade. However, it may have had other uses. Parker (1909) states that when we read of murder being committed by plunging a weapon into the victims we may be certain that the Knife was resorted to in many a fight. The grip is not clear but shows the ornamentation.

So that answers some of Vandoos questions. Yes they are still made. Yes the Mahouts still carry them. No the modern ones are not as elaborate.

Anan.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 06:12 PM   #7
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See image "b" and detail of hilt "c" categorised as Kandyan knives i.e. a reference to the Kandyan Provinces of Sri Lanka which were the last areas to fall under the British in 1815. While this knife has the bird and the beast head from whose open mouth the rest of the hilt emerges, the blade does not have the 'guard'. The image is from Ancent Swords, Daggers and Knives in Sri Lankan Museums by P H D H de Silva and S Wickramasinghe.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 06:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Rajesh,

nothing by this knives let think me that they could be from Indonesia.

Regards,
Detlef

I would agree with Detlef that these do not look like Indonesian knives to me.
I don't know much about the knives that mahouts carry in Sri Lanka, but it seems to me that such a knife for them is more a tool than a weapon. What i find as most common in use amongst mahout is a sickle shaped blade that is used to cut the toe nails of the elephant when they get over grown. In Nepal they refer to this as a "krupa".
The knives shown above might also be used, but i cannot find any mention of them in my brief searches.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 06:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anandalal N.
See image "b" and detail of hilt "c" categorised as Kandyan knives i.e. a reference to the Kandyan Provinces of Sri Lanka which were the last areas to fall under the British in 1815. While this knife has the bird and the beast head from whose open mouth the rest of the hilt emerges, the blade does not have the 'guard'. The image is from Ancent Swords, Daggers and Knives in Sri Lankan Museums by P H D H de Silva and S Wickramasinghe.

These Kandyan knives you have just posted seem more in line with piha kaetta so i would not imagine they have much to do with mahouts.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 06:42 PM   #10
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Very interesting .
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Old 2nd November 2016, 06:50 PM   #11
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Mahout from Nepal, in the GM museum in Pokhara they call the sickle an Aansi, the Mahout on the Elephant had scars on his legs from when a Tiger jumped up on his Elephant
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Old 2nd November 2016, 11:45 PM   #12
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The"c" knife ( with parrot head) is remarkably similar to the creations of the Haddad family in Jezzine, S. Lebanon

http://glamroz.com/firebird-cutlery-made-in-jezzine/
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Old 3rd November 2016, 03:21 AM   #13
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Default Hansiya

Sirupate,

Aansi is remarkably similar in sound to hansiya which is, I believe, the word for the harvesting sickle. The shape of the aansi is also very similar to the shape of the hansiya. Any thoughts?

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 3rd November 2016, 12:28 PM   #14
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I think they are possibly one and the same, maybe a regional difference?, but the true Gurkhali/Nepali spelling is Aansi for the sickle blade, some pics from Nepal
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Old 5th November 2016, 02:42 AM   #15
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Default Hansiya, The Movie

Sirupati

Thanks for the info. It would appear that hansiya is a variant of aansi. Any idea of the group that uses the word hansiya? As an interesting aside, there is a Nepalese movie called Hasiya (spelled as shown without the "n"). The trailer shows a very attractive woman using an aansi in a very martial arts manner to do in a number of opponents.

Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 6th November 2016, 05:31 PM   #16
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Hi RobT,
I'm not sure, but I suspect it is like Khuda to Khunda for example, the same thing, but the latter one is a high caste spelling
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Old 7th November 2016, 04:34 AM   #17
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Hi David and others,

The reason I posted the two knives above is since there is little written about them and so to place them in context. I suppose looking at the discussion that ensued the greater significance lies in the fact that although they may have had other uses, they are more or less dedicated knives for use by mahouts.

For example the large knife from Nepal depicted is a day to day working knife and I myself have observed it being used by Nepalese villagers. A similar knife is found in some Sri Lankan village households as a multipurpose knife used for various purposes from cracking open coconuts with the reverse edge to chopping wood and collecting firewood.

Kandyan provinces are as stated by me, the last areas to come under a foreign power (British) and so the term 'Kandyan' came to represent things that were uniquely Kandyan but also those arts, crafts and cultural elements that had resisted change the longest.

The term Piha Kaetta is a term that in a non Sri Lankan context has come to represent a large variety of knives from pointed dagger like knives with a clip point to heavy choppers. In relation to knives, the distinction between Kandyan and non Kandyan became more pronounced since the early regulations of the British Government prohibiting pointed knives to be worn or carried by locals exempted the inhabitants of the Kandyan provinces.

So things are not as straight forward as one would like it to be.

Rgds.
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Old 7th November 2016, 01:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anandalal N.
Hi David and others,

The term Piha Kaetta is a term that in a non Sri Lankan context has come to represent a large variety of knives from pointed dagger like knives with a clip point to heavy choppers. In relation to knives, the distinction between Kandyan and non Kandyan became more pronounced since the early regulations of the British Government prohibiting pointed knives to be worn or carried by locals exempted the inhabitants of the Kandyan provinces.

So things are not as straight forward as one would like it to be.

Rgds.


The British Government is often accused of stopping local inhabitants practising their Martial Arts or carrying this or that in the 19th and early 20th century etc. So far I have found the claims made by the people of the region to be a myth. The last one before this being the British stopping the Indian's practising their MA etc.

Last edited by sirupate : 8th November 2016 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 10th November 2016, 01:46 AM   #19
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Default Prohibiting use of Pointed Knives

Relevant parts of the Regulation of 1816 annexed.

"For prohibiting the use of Pointed Knives amongst the natives Cingalese of the maritime provinces of the Island"

Such claims are not always unfounded mostly un-researched!
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Old 10th November 2016, 10:30 AM   #20
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the kamis of Surya Benai, Nepal call their sickle a 'hasiya' terminal H optional.
they also come in fancy.
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Old 10th November 2016, 07:58 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anandalal N.
Relevant parts of the Regulation of 1816 annexed.

"For prohibiting the use of Pointed Knives amongst the natives Cingalese of the maritime provinces of the Island"

Such claims are not always unfounded mostly un-researched!


Good find
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Old 10th November 2016, 08:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
the kamis of Surya Benai, Nepal call their sickle a 'hasiya' terminal H optional.
they also come in fancy.

The HI kami, so probably a dialect/regional variance, like khuda is to khunda, the fancy ones were used as a presentation pieces, there is one in the GM in Winchester.
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Old 11th November 2016, 03:34 AM   #23
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Default That Explains the Movie

Kronckew,

"the kamis of Surya Benai, Nepal call their sickle a 'hasiya' terminal H optional."

That gives full confirmation that the movie title Hasiya means sickle (also one of the online blurbs for the movie said that hasiya means sickle in English). The heroine of the movie uses a hasiya in some of the combat sequences. It's not too far a stretch to see how another group combined aansi & hasiya to get hansiya (especially if the "h" is sort of silent).

Sincerely,
Till
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Old 25th January 2017, 08:21 PM   #24
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Here is such a knife which was listed by ebay.
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Old 25th January 2017, 09:18 PM   #25
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On the subject of banned Martial Arts in Sri Lanka ... With the advent of colonialism over the entirety of the island in 1815, Angampora fell into disuse and was very nearly lost as a part of the country's heritage. The British administration prohibited its practice due to the dangers posed by a civilian populace versed in a martial art, burning down any angan madu (practice huts devoted to the martial art) found: flouting of the law was punished by a gunshot to the knee, effectively crippling practitioners; Angampora nevertheless survived within a few families, allowing it to emerge into mainstream Sri Lankan culture post-independence. Something similar happened in India.
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Old 29th September 2017, 05:24 PM   #26
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Whilst the earlier posts seem to show a traditional style of knife perhaps used by the Mahout etc ...The later form which are sickle like are originally south Indian and used also in Sri Lanka . They are Veecharuval.

See THE Veecharuval on http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...8&page=11&pp=30 at post#304... This weapon may have spread from Southern India moreover there it is banned in many areas since it has been used in frequent attacks and murders... It is simply a machete often with a curved hook like tip section...The use of agricultural tools as war or fighting weapons is not unusual and this is an example of such an item. For interest I show the South Indian version in the blacksmiths shop though there is, perhaps, little difference.
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Old 29th September 2017, 07:00 PM   #27
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aha! the traditional tool/weapon of the local natives in my village. the english have traditionally taken their bills to war, especially the long hafted pole versions, against the perfidious french rebels at potiers, crecy and agincort, who would deny our noble kings their rights in the english continental lands. they are still readily available from merchants throughout the land at reasonable costs.
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Old 29th September 2017, 08:23 PM   #28
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This is what is used today. I bought it in 2004 in the local market of Galle when i remember it correct.

Kronkew your knifeform would be used to crack coconuts today. I dont know the exact singhalese name for it.
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Old 29th September 2017, 08:26 PM   #29
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