Original Early 19th Century Ceylonese Dagger Sinhalese Ppiha - Kaetta Knife from Sri Lanka

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Antique Early 19th Century Ceylonese Sinhalese nobleman dagger (piha-kaetta). A single edged robust steel blade with fuller along the back edge. The forte and spine of the blade are heavily encrusted in silver with scrolling foliage, encased on each side with chased low-grade silver alloy panels, over the base decorated with finely chased floral and vine scrolling foliage. A finely carved horn grip, retained with brass pins, with an elaborately shaped and engraved small plaque. The grip is fitted with a chased pommel cap. Also included is the original wood scabbard.

These elaborately decorated knives are usually the product of the Pattal-hatara (four workshops), the blades being supplied by smiths. This was a mainly hereditary corporation of the best craftsmen who worked exclusively for the king in Kandy. Originally there was only one pattala but this was subsequently divided into sections which included a Randaku pattala (golden sword armory or workshop). As well as being worn by courtiers, these knives were given by the king to nobles and to the temples.

Overall condition is good with some minor damage and wear. Measures 11 1/2 inches overall.

1) A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor  by George Cameron Stone.
2) Armi E Armature Oriental by Gianni Vianello.
3) Rites of Power: Oriental Weapons: Collection of Jorge Caravana, Caleidoscopio  by J. Caravana.  
4) Ancient Swords, Daggers & Knives in Sri Lankan Museums, Sri Lanka National Museums. De Silva & S. Wickramasinghe.
5) Visions of an Island: Rare works from Sri Lanka in the Christopher Ondaatje Collection by N.Weereratne.
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