Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Nicholson’s Cove Arabic Inscription, Trincomalee

Nicholson’s cove Arabic Inscription
Trincomalee Nicholson’s Cove Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka

A tombstone
This slab which has been identified as a tombstone was discovered in February 1939, by some workers who were working near two wells in the Nicholson's Cove area (Devendra, 1968). Nearly 3 decades after Somasiri Devendra, the Instructor Lieut. Commander (Royal Ceylon Navy) brought it to the attention of scholars through an article published in 1968 (Devendra, 1968).

The inscription has been engraved on a white marble slab from the Rajasthan, originally rectangular (at least in its lower part) in shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The slab is 19 inches long, 16 inches wide and 2.25 inches thick and the characters on it are in sunken relief (Dasanayaka, 2017; Devendra, 1968). Six lines of writing with the remains of a seventh can be observed on the slab and these lines are flanked by two vertical columns which are also inscribed (Dasanayaka, 2017; Devendra, 1968; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
This relates to the grave of the noble, the pious and the chaste lady, daughter of the Amir Badru-d-din Hussain, son of Ali al-Halabi (Dasanayaka, 2017). She was taken away on Monday the 17th Dhul-Qa’da 729 (or 929) A.H. (Dasanayaka, 2017). According to Kalus & Guillot, this inscription can be dated to 729 A.H. (1329 A.D.) or 929 A.H. [(1523 A.D.) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].

References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.347-349.
2) Devendra, S., 1968. Arabic Gravestone from Trincomalee Dockyard. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society: New Series: Vol XIV. pp.28-35.
3) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.53-59.

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This page was last updated on 19 April 2021
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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic Inscription

Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic Inscription
Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka.

This slab with an inscription is said to have discovered from a place on the wayside of Anuradhapura-Puttalam road (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The inscription has been inscribed on the vertical side of a rectangular slab. It is written in Kufic script with leafy or flowery ends (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The inscription has been dated to the 9th century A.D. (Dasanayaka, 2017).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.352-353.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.18-22.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Ellupitty Arabic Inscription

Ellupitty Arabic Inscription
Ellupitty Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka.

This has been identified as a tombstone (Dasanayaka, 2017). The slab on which the inscription has been inscribed is fragmentary and believed to be rectangular in shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The remaining portion contains 5 lines of writing but the first and the last lines are considerably damaged. It is written in Kufic script with leafy or flowery ends (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
Content
Elupitiya tombstone with the Arabic inscription
Transcript: (1) Khalafa minad dunya wa tarakaha (2) ......ata faqiran ilaika wa anta ...... (3) nasals bika wa anta .....
Translation: Left the world and abandoned it......came to you depending on you are the ......Descended upon you, you are the......
Citation: Dasanayaka, 2017. p.349.
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.349.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.22-24.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription

Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription
Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This Rajasthan marble slab which has been identified as a tombstone was unearthed during World War II (1939-1945 A.D.) by workmen who were excavating a site for laying water pipes near Ostenberg Point No. I and Chappel Hill in Nicholson's house overlooking Trincomalee harbour (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). After keeping it in the Kachcheri premises for a few days, the slab was later brought to the museum in May 1963 (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).

The slab is rectangular in shape while its upper part has a multifoil arch shape. Its total height is 0.94 m (height of the arch 0.32 m) and the width is 0.49 m [(except the arch) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing has been engraved on the edge of the arch, inside the arch, both sides of the lamp, in the horizontal strip separating the arch from the lower part, in the rectangular field consisting of seven lines, and on the strip that runs around the border. The slab is ornamented with leaf and flower designs. The calligraphy of the inscription is typically Hispano-Arab [(Arabesque) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
The inscription is written in early Naskhi or Rayhani which was in use in early Eastern Islam between the 5th and 7th Century after Hijra (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It records the death of the martyr, Qadi 'Atifu' d-Din 'Abdu'llah son of Abdu'r Rahman son of Muhammad son of Yusuf al-'Alaw (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Besides the main writing, it also contains some verses (27/80, 27/31) from Quran (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). This inscription has been dated in A.H. 808 Safar 19 [(16 August 1405) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.207-208,350-351.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.47-52.

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Puliyantivu Arabic Inscription

Puliyanativu Arabic Inscription
Puliyantivu Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This fragmentary stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone was discovered in Puliyantivu island in Mannar District (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It was brought to the museum in about 1920 (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
Only the upper part of a stone slab that was originally rectangular in shape is remaining today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The Arabic inscription on it consists of 6 lines (Only five lines are visible on the slab in Colombo National Museum. The remaining line is not visible due to its basement) and its upper part is decorated with a semi-circular arch (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Some letters are also found on the upper part of both left and right corners.
 
The inscription has been written in Kufic scripts which flourished in the early centuries of Islam [(7th century A.D.) Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. Depending on the style of writing, this is assumed to be a work belonging to the 4th century Hijra [(9th century A.D.) Dasanayaka, 2017].

Content
Puliyantivu tombstone with the Arabic inscription
Period: 9th century A.D.                    Language: Arabic                    Script: Kufic
Transcript: (1) Alhamdu lillah (2) Bismillah hir Rahman ar-Rahim (3) La ila illallahu.....>>
Translation: (1) All praise be to Allah (2) In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful (3) There is no god but Allah.....>>
Citation: Dasanayaka, 2017. p.345.
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.344-345.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.27-29.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Mantai Arabic Inscription

Mantai Arabic Inscription
Mantai Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone is said to have been discovered from a site in Mantai in Mannar District (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). However, as mentioned in some sources, it was discovered from a place in Jawatta in Colombo District (Dasanayaka, 2017).
 
The slab is rectangular in shape and its lower part apparently has been cut with some instrument (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The height of the slab is 0.97 m and the width of it slightly differs at the top (0.51 m) and the bottom [(0.47 m) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing has been engraved within a rectangular frame with an arch-shaped top. Ten lines of writing are visible on the slab and the first three lines are engraved within the arch.
 
The inscription records the death of Yazid, son of Al-Marzuban, son of Mahwaih (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It does not mention a date but that may have included in the lower part of the record which is mission today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Depending on the characters of the record, it has been dated to the 11th century A.D. (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.148.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.40-43.

Location Map
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Jawatta Arabic Inscription

Jawatta Arabic Inscription
Jawatta Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. This is considered the first Arabic epigraph found in the country (Dasanayaka, 2017).

A tombstone
This stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone is said to have been discovered from a cemetery in Jawatta in Colombo District (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Around 1787, the slab was moved along with other stones to be used as a walk in the house of a Dutch official [(Collector of Colombo) Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. There are no clear reports about the original inscription and only a facsimile by Sir Alexander Johnston is remaining today (Johnston, 1826; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The slab is believed to be rectangular in shape and its dimensions are not known (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The writing has been engraved within a rectangular frame with an arch-shaped top. Fifteen lines of writing are visible on the slab and the first two lines are engraved inside the arch.
 
The stone is dated on 5th Rajab AH 337 (some sources say it 317) and has been erected in memory of Khalid Ibn Abu Bakaya (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). He is said to have been sent to Sri Lanka from Baghdad (Iraq) by Caliph Al-Muktafi bi'llah as a religious teacher in 940 A.D. at the request of the Muslims (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). He died 17 years after he left Baghdad and buried in Colombo (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). On his death, the Caliph sent a stone inscribed in Arabic (Kufic) giving particulars about his teacher and it was placed on the grave of Abu Bakaya by the Muslim community in Colombo (Dasanayaka, 2017; Dewaraja, 1994). The stone is said to be there undisturbed for nearly 800 years, till a Dutch official removed it along with other stones to be used as a walk-in his house (Dasanayaka, 2017; Dewaraja, 1994).

Content
After knowing about this inscribed stone, Sir Alexander Johnston, the Chief Justice of Ceylon (1806-1819 A.D.) took a facsimile of it and sent to England for translation (Dasanayaka, 2017; Johnston, 1826). It was translated by Sir Samuel Lee Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge and his translation into English was as follows;
In the name of the compassionate and merciful GOD. There is no God but God. Mohammed is the prophet of God. May the blessing and peace of God be upon him. O God pardon, have mercy upon, and pass away from (the sins of) a servant, the son of thy servant, Khalid Ibn Abu Bakdya (Takaya or Nakaya), (who) has left the world, and (who) was dependent on thee; but thou wast sufficient without him : (who) has departed to thee, and thou art his best place of departure. O God pardon his sin, that his piety may remain, and grant him his last (reward), and that he may be justified. And protect thou, and multiply favour and security to him. And may he (God) appoint our excellent prophet supreme, that he may afford to us and shew us the truth clearly ; for he has admonished with the established word, and his decision has obtained, and his resistance is (as) the (depth) lake of reproach. Amen. Lord of Worlds. It was written on the second day (of the week) five nights taken out of (the month) Rejeb (i. e. on the 5th of Rejeb) in the year 337.* And in the vicinity he completed a security for religion with (other) conveniences, in the year 317. May God give blessing and peace upon his prophet Mohammed
Citation: Lee, 1827. p.546.
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.145-148.
2) Dewaraja, L.S., 1994. The Muslims of Sri Lanka: one thousand years of ethnic harmony, 900-1915. Lanka Islamic Foundation.pp.27-28.
3) Johnston, A., 1826. A letter to the Secretary relating to the preceding inscription. Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1(2), pp.537-548.
4) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.29-40.
5) Lee, S., 1827. A Cufic Inscription found in Ceylon, communicated by Sir A. JOHNSTON, V.P.R.A.S.; with a Translation by the Rev. SAMUEL LEE, A.M., Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1(2), pp.545-548.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka

Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka
A small number of Arabic inscriptions have been found in Sri Lanka from maritime regions as well as from hinterland. The majority of them are tombstones while some others are votive in character. The percentage of the number of Arabic inscriptions in Sri Lanka is considerably very low when it compares to the amount of Sinhala inscriptions (majority language) recorded so far in the country.

The records date between the 9th -15th century period. The script used generally was Kufic, but other scripts such as Naskh and Farisi (Persian) have also been reported.

The list of Arabic inscriptions
This is an incomplete list prepared by "Lanka Pradeepa".
 
No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Puliyantivu inscription
(Mannar District)
A tombstone
9th century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
2 Anuradhapura-Puttalam road inscription
(unknown place)
??
9th century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
3 Fragmentary Arabic inscription, Colombo National Museum
(unknown place)
??
after the 9th century A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
4 Jawatta cemetery inscription
(Colombo District)
A tombstone
949 A.D.
Ali, 2014
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
5 Mantai inscription
(Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar District)
A tombstone
11th century A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
6 Bhagavalena inscription
(Ratnapura District)
A religious text
13 century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Dewaraja, 1994
7 Nicholson Cove inscription, Trincomalee
(Trincomalee District)
A tombstone
1329 A.D. or 1523 A.D.
Devendra, 1968;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
8 Trincomalee dockyard inscription
(Trincomalee District)
A tombstone
1405 A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006;
Dasanayaka, 2007
9 Kuragala inscription
(Ratnapura District)
??
10-16th century A.D.
Somadeva, 2014;
10 Galle Trilingual slab inscription
(Galle District)
A votive text
15 February 1409
Dewaraja, 2006;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
11 Ellupitty inscription
(Mannar District)
A tombstone
??
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
12 Talapitiya mosque inscription
(Galle District)
??
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
13 Hemmatagama inscriptions
(Madulbowa in Kegalle District)
Three tombstones
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
14 Mannar inscription
(Mannar District)
??
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006

References
1) Ali, A., 2014. Muslims in harmony and conflict in plural Sri Lanka: A historical summary from a religio-economic and political perspective. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 34(3), pp.227-242.
2) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.344-358.
3) Devendra, S., 1968. Arabic Gravestone from Trincomalee Dockyard. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society: New Series: Vol XIV. pp.28-35.
4) Dewaraja, L.S., 1994. The Muslims of Sri Lanka: one thousand years of ethnic harmony, 900-1915. Lanka Islamic Foundation.p.33. 
5) Dewaraja, L., 2006. Cheng Ho's Visits to Sri Lanka and the Galle Trilingual Inscription in the National Museum in Colombo. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 52, pp.59-74.
6) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.15-68.
7) Somadeva, R., 2014. කූරගල ගවේශනය 2014: අදියර 1. (In Sinhala) pp.31-32.

This page was last updated on 19 April 2021
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Fragmentary Arabic Inscription, Colombo National Museum

Fragmentary Arabic Inscription, Colombo Museum
This is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.
 
The place of discovery is not known for this inscription (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Although it is presently preserved on an irregular-shaped stone slab, this inscription probably had been engraved on a slab with a rectangular shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The circular carving in the middle of the slab indicates that it has been reused for another purpose (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The slab is 0.65 m tall and its width varies from bottom to top [(bottom: 0.44 m; top: 0.38 m; max-width: 0.58 m) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing had been margined by an engraved frame which is still visible at some places of the slab. The first part of the record is missing and only seven lines are remaining today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).

This inscription is written in the same Eastern Kufic as that in Puliyantivu Inscription but is probably of a somewhat later date (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The inscription is worn and the stone may have been used as a grinding stone or for such purpose (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.351-352.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.24-26.

Location Map
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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Garumuni Walawwa

Garumuni Walawwa is an old manor house situated in Balapitiya in Galle District, Sri Lanka. It is considered a representative sample for the important colonial period buildings in the Southern region of the country (CCF, 2015).

History
The construction of Walawwas as the abodes for the elite of the southern region rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century and the Garumuni Walawwa was one such manor house built by the de Soysa family in the 19th century (CCF, 2015). It is said that this building had housed the meeting of the Donoughmore Commission in 1928 (CCF, 2015).

References
1) CCF, 2015. Conservation of Garumuni Walawwa. CCF Newsletter Vol. 1. Central Cultural Fund. p.8.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 17 April 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map