Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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CharlesS 7th April 2020 05:25 PM

The Rare and Artistic Sinhalese Patisthanaya
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First, and foremost, my best wishes for well being and good health to my fellow forum members!

The patisthanaya is a polearm from the Sinhalese people of Ceylon/Sri Lanka. It would appear to have a lot in common with a European partizan. While their iron and steel heads can take many different forms they always form some degree of a "trident" as a common denominator. There are also elongated bolsters running down from the head and fastened to the haft on many examples. Their hafts are often painted in red, gold, and black geometric designs and circles, a form and colors apparently associated with the capital city of Kandy.

This example is especially nice as it features brass inlay atop chiseled work(smewhat like we might see on a piha kaetta) along with delicate floral motifs chiseled into the blade and sleeve. Note the unusual way the bolsters are mounted and fitted under the sleeve. You will also see mysterious holes to each side of the sleeve where apparently some other attachment was mounted...perhaps one of our forum members may know what was there???

I have attached a pic of my others so that you can see the variations and commonalities in blade types.

These are certainly one of the ethnographic world's most unique and flamboyant polearm types.

Overall height: Just under 7ft.
Blade and sleeve(including extended bolsters): 16in.
Blade alone: 9.25in.
Width of the "trident": 3.25in.

Gustav 8th April 2020 12:44 PM

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Hello CharlesS,

a beautiful patisthanaya.

Regarding the holes - see one example sold by Peter Dekker,
Also an interesting article about Sinhalese lacquer work:

DhaDha 8th April 2020 02:58 PM

I wish I knew more about these. Just beautiful.

CharlesS 8th April 2020 08:48 PM

Excellent info Gustav. I feel sure you are right. I do wonder why there would essentially be two "guards" right next to each other, but your pics make sense. The chiseling work on the steel guards is typically impressive!

Thanks for your input!

kino 20th April 2020 05:12 PM

The pole arms are indeed flamboyant. The shield is equally beautiful. Is it hewn from wood or is it leather?
Thanks for showing these.

CharlesS 29th April 2020 12:13 PM

Hi Kino,

Thanks for the comments. The shield is lacquered hide. The lacquer has "crazed" and lost its luster over time.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 3rd May 2020 02:51 AM

Dear Charles,

Can you throw some light onto the situation with this weapon In your opener you said these two weapons were virtually of the same name and clearly they are the same design. Who was first onto the battlefield with the Partizan .. The Sri Lankans or the Portuguese. Assuming that the Portuguese were there as the first of the Europeans? No one has ever stated the clearly obvious fact that the two are originally the same weapon and that the Sri Lankans simply copied the weapon....

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 3rd May 2020 09:25 PM

And if I may make a reasonably proper reference A to this subject I would choose the one hereunder...and from the same stable as noted by Gustav above.



Prasanna Weerakkody 16th June 2020 05:36 AM

Excellent example of a Patisthana. I am from Sri Lanka and these are always a pleasure to see for me.

These patisthana with second set of wings are believed to be guard arms for artillery and from what I gather from old locals is that the second set of wings were for attaching a lit match fuse cord and used to fire cannons.

I am also very curious about the shield in the last image. does that have any reference that it is from Sri Lanka.

Best Regards


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