Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription is one of the Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is exhibited in the Stone Gallery of the National Museum of Colombo.
Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription (Tamil: கோட்டகமைக் கல்வெட்டு; Sinhala: කොටගම ‌දෙමළ සෙල්ලිපිය) is one of the Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is now exhibited in the Stone Gallery of the National Museum of Colombo. This inscription is considered important as it reveals some historical facts related to the Arya Cakravarttis of Jaffna.


The slab was found in Kotagama Viharaya premises located near Rambukkana in Kegalle District (Codrington, 1932). It is said that it was brought to the temple from a high land named Koholan Godella close to the temple (Wijesuriya, 1990). The inscription was later taken to the Colombo Museum in 1892 by H.C.P. Bell (Wijesuriya, 1990).

The Record

The inscription has been engraved on a stone slab of about 7 feet 7 inches long, 2 feet 8 inches broad, and 7 inches thick (Wijesuriya, 1990). It consists of five lines and has been written in a form of a poem. The epigraph is in the Tamil language with the Tamil scripts of the mid-14th century A.D. (Pathmanathan, 2005).

The inscription gives no detail about the purpose of its establishment. As well as no regal year has been indicated in the record. Depending on the palaeographical considerations and historical accounts, scholars such as S. Paranavitana have assigned this inscription to the mid-14th century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1960; Pathmanathan, 2005). The forms of the letters in this epigraph are said to be similar to those found in the Tamil rock inscription (engraved in 1344 A.D.) at Lankathilaka Viharaya in Kandy (Paranavitana, 1960; Pathmanathan, 2005). Also, several Sinhalese chronicles such as "Rajavaliya" and "Nikaya Sangarahaya" (written in 1369) provide some accounts of the activities of Arya Cakravarti in the Gampola Kingdom during the 14th century.

Some authors have dated this inscription to the mid-15th century A.D. (Codrington, 1932; Veluppillai, 1979) but other authors have disagreed with that assumption by pointing out the scarcity of the historical sources which record a conquest of a Sinhalese king by the Arya Cakravarti during the 15th century.

The Content

According to S. Paranavitana, this is the only inscription that mentions an Arya-Cakravarti of Jaffna (Paranavitana, 1961). It records a conquest of a Sinhalese king by Arya Cakravarti but the name of the king who was defeated is not given in the record (Codrington, 1932; Pathmanathan, 2005). However, the scholar John Siriman de Soyza has pointed out that this inscription can be seen as a defeat of a Tamil king and a victory of a Sinhalese king (Wijesuriya, 1990).

The interpretations for the Kotagama inscription by S. Pathmanathan are given below,

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription

Period: Mid-14th century A.D.
Language & Script: Tamil
Transcript: (1) Cetu (2) Kankanam ver kanninaiyar kattinar (3) Kamar valaip .....>>
Translation: Setu. The young women of the king(s) of Anurai, who did not submit to the Ariyan of Cinkainakar of resounding waters, shed tears from the pairs of their lance-shaped eyes and spread their forehead marks on their beautiful braceleted lotus-like hands.
Citation: Pathmanathan, S., 2005

The first line of the inscription only contains one word "Setu". Setu is identified as an emblem of the kings of Arya Cakravartis who reigned in Jaffna (Rasanayagam, 1926). This word is found on all the coins issued by them (Rasanayagam, 1926; Pathmanathan, 2005). The Arya Cakravarti is mentioned in this record as Ariyan of Cinkainakar. The word Anurai is the abbreviation used to indicate Anuradhapura and then for any capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom (Codrington, 1929; Codrington, 1932; Pathmanathan, 2005). 


1) Codrington, H.W., 1929. A short history of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services (1994). p.89.
2) Codrington, H.W., 1932. The problem of the Kotagama inscription. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 32(85), pp.214-225.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1960. [Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief)]. Chapter II: Gampala and Raigama. History of Ceylon: Volume I: Part II. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. p.642.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1961. The Arya kingdom in north Ceylon. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. pp.174-224.
5) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp.69-74.
6) Rasanayagam, C., 1926. Ancient Jaffna: Being a Research Into the History of Jaffna from Very Early Times to the Portuguese Period. Asian Educational Services (1984). p.364.
7) Veluppillai, A., 1979. Language Variations in Sri Lanka Tamil Inscriptions. Journal of Tamil Studies, 14. pp.65-83.
8) Wijesuriya, W., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section V: Inscriptions (1200-1600). Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions. pp.205-206.

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This page was last updated on 12 April 2023

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