Page images
[ocr errors]

the Mahavansa to the broad arrows' of the Sinhalese in the

twelfth century.

The arrows have usually four feathers of the pea-hen's wing, but sometimes only three. As I possess one with six feathers it is clear that the number varied according to the owner's fancy. Hard gum or lac is occasionally placed, as a protection from fraying, over the fine string which is used for tying them on the shaft. The shaft is slightly narrowed between the notch and the feathers (Fig. 214); in this respect it differs from the Vaedda shaft.

I have not seen a crescent-headed arrow, such as Rāma and his brother are described as using against the Rākshasas; it is an extremely ancient form of the weapon, and is mentioned in the Rig Veda (vi, 75, 5) as 'the shaft with venom smeared, tipped with deer-horn, with iron mouth.' It is, however, of far greater age than Vedic times, and long and most beautifully chipped flint specimens, some of the finest examples of chipped flint work ever executed, having a wide V-shaped cutting edge, with extremely fine and regular serrations, of pre-dynastic date, that is, dating from prior to 4500 B.C., have been obtained in Egypt, and are to be seen in the British Museum.

The illustration of a Yaksha given already (Fig. 9), which is copied from a painting of uncertain date in a wihāra of the North-western Province, shows the manner of holding the arrow and string, which is drawn by the first and second fingers, one being on each side of the arrow. The same figure also contains an illustration of a form of Quiver, Hi-kopuwa, which in this instance holds seven arrows. It is slung at the side, but the usual position may have been on the back, as in early Indian reliefs.

The Stone-Bow, Gal-dunna, of village youths is merely a weak bow with two strings, which half-way from the tips have some cross net-work or are attached to the ends of a small piece of hide used for holding the stone. The strings are kept apart by means of short sticks fixed transversely between them, one being near each end. Small birds are sometimes killed with this bow. A more powerful weapon

of this type may have been used in early fighting, but it appears never to be delineated in the wihāra paintings.

The Axe, Porawa, is met with in four forms, of which two were Battle-axes, while the others were employed only as tools. One of the former kinds, the Ketēriya (Figs. 198 and 199) is still carried by villagers in the interior for protection against bears, and possibly also against demons, since the axe was a powerful amulet even in Vedic times. It has a narrow stem, and a blade which ends in a broad crescent, the convex curve of which is the cutting edge. The handle passes through a socket made in the stem, which in some cases projects slightly as a small hammer-head, termed a kondē, on the opposite side of the handle. This weapon occurs once in the hands of a soldier in a panel at Ridi Wihāra ; it has there a wide blade which extends up to the handle without diminution of the breadth. It is also included in wihāra paintings of the Mara contest, as a weapon carried by some of the demons. Although its shape is of great antiquity and its use was widespread, it is not mentioned in the histories, nor is it carried by the Vaeddas. It was used in pre-dynastic times in Egypt. At Sanchi, in India, it is represented at the north gateway of the central and earliest dagaba, which dates from the third century B.C., as being without a socket, the pointed stem of the blade evidently passing through a hole bored in the handle.1

[ocr errors]

The Broad Axe is apparently the true fighting Axe of Ceylon, as its name Yuddha Porawa, Battle Axe,' shows. As used in the island it was a much heavier weapon than the last, and had a straight cutting edge. It is not once referred to in the histories, and I have not seen an example; but it is very clearly carved in the panels at Ridi Wihāra, where two of the soldiers are armed with this formidable weapon (Fig. No. 171). According to these reliefs it had no socket; but as no diagonal lashings are shown this may be only due to a mistake of the carver.

The Indian Axe carried by attendants in the Amaravati

1 General Maisey. Sanchi and its Remains, Plates V and XXXIX.

carvings is of an entirely different type, with an extremely long blade, rather narrow at the stem; towards the cutting edge, which is straight, it widens out considerably to an equal extent at the upper and lower edges, which are slightly curved. In the Badāmi carvings it is the Keteriya of Ceylon which is represented, and this form is shown in the modern figure of Parasu-Rāma, Rāma of the Axe,' one of the Avatāras of Vishnu, in Sir George Birdwood's Industrial Arts of India.

The Club, Mugura, is described as being made of iron; it is usually drawn in the wihāras (Fig. 167) as a thick heavy straight weapon, and is always painted with a grey colour that is used to denote iron. The two Rakshasa guards in Fig. 159 are armed with this weapon, like those on the South Indian gōpuras. Doubtless some were made of wood.

Specimens of a simple form of Mace, with a plain straight handle or staff, on which thick iron rings are fixed at one end, are to be seen occasionally. Such a weapon is certain to be of early date. A club or mace was used in Vedic times (Rig Veda, x, 102, 9).

A curved form of Iron Club is also illustrated in two shapes in wihāra paintings (Figs. 168 and 169). One type slightly resembles a boomerang in its curvature. As a throwing weapon of this shape is known in Southern India such a club may have been used in Ceylon in former times. In the ancient Tamil poem from which extracts were given at the end of Chapter IV, Ayiyanar is described as being 'girt with a curved club.'

The common Shield, Palisa, was of the Buckler form, a segment of a hollow sphere, circular in outline, and having considerable convexity, and no boss. In all examples in the wihāra paintings it is shown with only one looped handle in the middle, to enable it to be held by the left hand. This type is also carved in the reliefs at the Tanjore Temple, and at other South Indian temples (see Fig. No. 158).

A very fine specimen in the possession of the late Mr. Philip Templer of the Ceylon Civil Service, afterwards Administrator of St. Lucia, was made of one piece of bark. It had a large boss in the centre, with a hole in the middle, apparently

for fixing a spike, round which four small bell-metal disks were placed, making with it the arms of a cross; there was also a circle of round-headed studs near the border. The shield was nearly black in colour, and was decorated with figures of two soldiers in thin metal, fixed on its outer surface, on opposite sides of the boss. Each held a buckler in the left hand and a Kastānē in the right; their sole dress was a cloth from the waist to the knees, and a skull-cap. All the metal work consisted of bell-metal (lõkaḍa), with a brassy appearance. This shield was about two feet in diameter; it had two flexible leather handles in the middle, fixed close together, so as to be grasped by one hand. According to the information supplied to me by villagers, many shields had a covering of tin; others probably had a covering of leather nailed on a light wooden or bark frame.

In the Ridi Wihāra panels, the shields, of which only side views are given, may possibly be elongated; and the concavity is of two peculiar types, one shield having on its outer side two straight lines converging to a point in the middle, while the other (Fig. 170), which is shown in two panels, bulges out there into a rounded outline, which perhaps indicates a large high boss. As it would have been at least as easy for the carvers to represent the simple curve of the common buckler in all cases as to cut these peculiar forms, these reliefs apparently illustrate different shapes of shields from the usual one.

In the rough carving on a stone dug up with others at the Giant's Tank, and evidently taken there in the twelfth century A.D. from some pre-existing structure, a shield of another kind is delineated, nearly resembling a form that was once used in Europe. It has a straight horizontal top, and the sides are almost parallel, and make right angles with it in the middle part, ending in the lower part, which is rounded, in arcs of circles (Fig. 218). A shield of this type is illustrated by General Maisey in his Sanchi and its Remains, Plate XXXV, Fig. No. 30.

In his Third Progress Report Mr. Bell has figured another form which is cut in outline on a rock at Anuradhapura. It

bears some slight resemblance to the carvings of shields at Sanchi, and is small and heart-shaped (Fig. 180).

No Helmets are drawn in the wihāras; but in an interesting rock carving at the side of the Isurumuniya Temple at Anuradhapura (Fig. 219) a seated warrior is represented in the round, wearing a helmet which from its shape appears to be made of metal. A thick plume forms a crest on the top and hangs down the soldier's back. The horse's head appearing out

[graphic][merged small]

of the rock behind him shows that the person was a cavalry soldier.

The date of the carving is uncertain. The peculiar arch of the eyebrows is like that of the rock-cut sedent Buddha at Tantiri-malei, the bricks at which may belong to the first century after Christ, and the figure may be of the same age. The representation of the horse's head looking out of the rock is a feature characteristic of Phoenician sculpture. On a slab dug up at Tissa on which a cow and calf were carved in relief, the head of a bull was represented looking out of the stone above the cow's back; and with this may be also compared a lion's head similarly carved in two reliefs at a building between the Ruwanwaeli and Thūpārāma dāgabas, and the


« PreviousContinue »