Place of Origin: Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Date: 19th Century
Overall: 650mm (25.5 inches)
This is a fine example of the kastane type of sword that is characteristic of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and traditionally would have been worn by the Mudaliyar (a South Indian and Tamil name for ‘first’ that refers to a person endowed with wealth).
The curved blade is single-edged and fullered along the back on each side. It is marked with VOC—referring to the Dutch East India Company that was instrumental in establishing Dutch Ceylon, which existed from 1640 to 1796. The blade is marked to 1776, 20 years before the end of Dutch control.
The heavy silver hilt is cast and chased with designs of foliate scrollwork set against punched grounds, all sitting below a pommel in the form of a large simha, with ruby-set eyes and a gaping mouth. The knuckle-guard terminates with a similar head while a cross-legged, unidentified figure sits on the face of the guard. The quillons take the form of drooping makara heads.
Protecting the sword is the original wood-lined silver scabbard that is richly embossed and chased with repeated designs of scrolling foliage. The four small rings are for suspension from a belt. Unusually, a ring of rubies is set around the body of the scabbard. The throat is marked with the initials: AM—probably those of the European collector who brought the sword back from Sri Lanka.