Place of Origin: Ceylon
Date: 17th or 18th Century
Overall Length: 290mm
Blade Length: 170mm
A magnificent and important Ceylonese Piha-Kaetta, or Kandyan knife from the 17th or 18th Century.
A characteristic grip with carved Rhinoceros horn grip scales, mounted with cast and chased gold and silver mounts. The grips intricately carved with a pair of beasts on either side, having Simha heads (one head incomplete) and bird like bodies. An arched gold pommel-cap, pierced and chased with delicate Ceylonese scrollwork inhabited by two pairs of entwined birds. A large shaped, pierced and scrolling silver bolster, with attractive gold floral decoration.
The slightly re-curving blade has a gentler angle then most daggers of this type, double edged over half its length and covered with foliate engraved silver. H.R.Robinson notes (de Silva, 1975, p.150) that Kandyan knives may have some relation to the Kukri knife form, and that is evident in this example.
In its original fluted wooden scabbard completely covered in silver with filigree lockets and two central bands, the chape embossed with scrolling foliage and Kirtimukha (protective) mask head on either side.
The only other known example of a Ceylonese knife with a similar blade is in the Metropolitan museum of Art, New York (36.25.786a, b) and is illustrated (unfortunately sheathed) in Stone’s glossary simply under ‘knife’ see no.19, p.365. The potential importance of this unusual variant is still being debated by academics.
Late R.Wagner Jr collection (USA)
Higgins Armoury Museum, Worcester, MA (USA), September-December 1994
Pinchot, 2014, P.57, Fig.3-138.