This example of an eighteenth century piha-kaetta has a hilt is of horn that is finely carved and detailed with a liya-pata pattern – a typical leafy creeper pattern of Sri Lanka’s interior. The end of the hilt is encased in a broad rounding of silver that has been chased with typically Ceylonese scrolling foliage, and surmounted by a spherical tang finial. The hilt is further embellished with fine diamond-shaped leaf motif plaques in silver.
The blade is straight with a single edge. The top of the blade is encased in thick silver that has been extravagantly chased with repeated geometric flower motifs. That part of the blade nearest the handle is thickly encased with silver and brass mounts worked with elaborate foliate motifs.
The scabbard is light wood, the upper part of which has been encased in a silver sheet. The end of the scabbard is carved to resemble a parrot head.
Click here to see a related example in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
This piha-kaetta is in good condition. The blade has some old rust-staining and there are very minor losses to the silver casing. But overall, the knife has a good patina and obvious age.
Caravana, J. et al, Rites of Power: Oriental Weapons: Collection of Jorge Caravana, Caleidoscopio, 2010.
De Silva, P.H.D.H & S. Wickramasinghe, Ancient Swords, Daggers & Knives in Sri Lankan Museums, Sri Lanka National Museums, 2006.
Weereratne, N.,V isions of an Island: Rare works from Sri Lanka in the Christopher Ondaatje Collection, Harper Collins, 1999.