Tamil Inscriptions in Sri Lanka

Tamil Inscriptions in Sri Lanka
More than one hundred and fifty Tamil inscriptions have been recorded so far in Sri Lanka (Pathmanathan, 2006). Most of them are found in Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Mannar, and Ampara districts (Pathmanathan, 2006). However, the percentage of the number of Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka is considerably low compared to the number of Sinhala inscriptions recorded so far in the country.

Most of the Sri Lankan Tamil inscriptions have been dated in the regnal years of Sinhalese kings and South Indian Cholas. Most of these inscriptions belong to the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. (Pathmanathan, 2006).
This is an incomplete list prepared by "Lanka Pradeepa".

Controversial/doubtful interpretations
According to some scholars, the following two inscriptions contain several Brahmi letters that are Tamil Brahmi scripts (Pushparatnam, 2014; Raghupathy, 1987). However, according to the view of other scholars, these are Brahmi inscriptions of Sinhala Prakrit (Somadeva, 1998; Somadeva, 2010).

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Anaikoddai seal
(Jaffna District)
Dated to centuries B.C.
Early Anuradhapura period
Raghupathy, 1987;
Somadeva, 1998
2 Tissamaharama Brahmi inscription
(Hambantota District)
Dated to centuries B.C.
Early Anuradhapura period
Pushparatnam, 2014;
Somadeva, 2010

Anuradhapura Period (377 B.C. - 1017 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Abhayagiri Tamil Inscription
(Anuradhapura District)
8th century A.D.
Pathmanathan, 2006

Chola-occupied Period (c.1017 - 1055 A.D.)
Chola period (993-1070 A.D.): the Anuradhapura Kingdom was conquested and occupied during this period by South Indian Chola Empire. A large number of Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka belong to this period.

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Nilaveli slab inscription
(Trincomalee District)
10th-11th centuries A.D.
(Rajaraja I - Rajendra I)
Gunasingam, 1975
2 Koneswaram Chola inscription
(Trincomalee District)
10th-11th centuries A.D.
(Rajaraja I)
Gunasingam, 1975
3 Tirukketisvaram inscription of Rajaraja I
(Mannar District)
10th-11th centuries A.D.
(Rajaraja I)
Pathmanathan, 2005
4/5 Two inscriptions of Rajendra I, Hammenhiel Fort
Both are written in the same pillar
(Jaffna District)
11th century A.D.
(Rajendra I)
Indrapala,1991
6/7 Two inscriptions of Rajendra I, Tirukketisvaram
Both are written in the same pillar
(Mannar District)
11th century A.D.
(Rajendra I)
Pathmanathan, 2005
8/9 Two inscriptions of Rajendra I, Velgam Vehera
Both are written on the same slab
(Trincomalee District)
11th century A.D.
(12th year of Rajendra I)
Veluppillai, 1971
10 Fragmentary inscriptions of Rajendra I, Velgam Vehera
Inscriptions are in three fragments
(Trincomalee District)
11th century A.D.
(Rajendra I)
Veluppillai, 1971
11 Rajendra II inscription, Colombo Museum
(Anuradhapura District ?)
11th century A.D.
(2nd year of Rajendra II)
Pathmanathan, 2005
12/13 Two inscriptions at Siva Devale No. 2
(Polonnaruwa District)
11th century A.D.
(??)
Pathmanathan, 1987
14 Siva Devale No. 2, Vanavanmatevi-isvaram inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
11th century A.D.
(Adhirajendra Deva)
Pathmanathan, 1987
15 Atakada Tamil inscription
(North Central Province)
11th-12th centuries A.D.
(Probably Rajaraja I)
Veluppillai, 1971
16-
26
Eleven inscriptions at Velgam Vehera
(Trincomalee District)
11th-12th centuries A.D. Veluppillai, 1971
Veluppillai, 1972

Polonnaruwa Period (c.1055-1232 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Vahalkada slab inscription of Ainnurruvar
(Anuradhapura District)
11th century A.D.
(Ainnurruvar - A South Indian merchant guild)
Veluppillai, 1971
2 Polonnaruwa Siva Devale A inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
11th century A.D.
(Mentions about a Buddhist temple)
Veluppillai, 1972
3 Padaviya fragmentary inscription
(Anuradhapura District)
11th century A.D.
Veluppillai, 1971
4 Rankoth Vehera fragmentary inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
11th century A.D.
Veluppillai, 1972
5 Kantale Gal Asana inscription
(Trincomalee District)
11-12th centuries A.D.
Veluppillai, 1972
6/9 Four inscriptions at Padaviya Siva Devale No. 1
(Anuradhapura District)
??
Veluppillai, 1972
10 Padaviya Siva Devale No. 3 inscription
(Anuradhapura District)
12th century A.D.
Veluppillai, 1972
11 Palamottai Tamil slab inscription
(Trincomalee District)
12th century A.D.
(42nd year of Vijayabahu I)
Paranavitana, 1934
12 Velaikkara Slab Inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
12th century A.D.
(After the death of Vijayabahu I)
Wickremasinghe, 1928
13 Nainativu Tamil Slab Inscription
(Jaffna District)
12th century A.D.
(Issued by Parakramabahu I)
Indrapala, 1963
14 Rankoth Vehera Velaikkaran inscription of Jayabahu I
(Polonnaruwa District)
12th century A.D.
(During or after Jayabahu I)
Veluppillai, 1971
15/16 Two Budumuttava Vihara pillars of Jayabahu I
(Kurunegala District)
12th century A.D.
(8th year of Jayabahu I)
Paranavitana, 1933
17 Mahakirindegama Pillar Inscription
(Anuradhapura District)
12th century A.D.
(28th year of Jayabahu I)
Veluppillai, 1971
18 Moragahawela pillar inscription
(Anuradhapura District)
12th century A.D.
(Issued by Gajabahu II; dated to 28th year of Jayabahu I)
Pillai, 1960
19 Hingurakdamana Tamil pillar inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
12th century A.D.
(Issued by Gajabahu II; dated to 40th year of Jayabahu I)
Pathmanathan, 1976
20 Mankanay pillar inscription of Gajabahu II
(Trincomalee District)
12th century A.D.
(Issued by Gajabahu II; dated to 43rd year of Jayabahu I)
Pathmanathan, 1995
Pillay, 1962
21 Siva Devale No. 1 Stone Post
(Polonnaruwa District)
12th century A.D.
(Gajabahu II)
Bell, 1907
22 Kantale boundary stone of Gajabahu II
(Trincomalee District)
12th century A.D.
(Gajabahu II)
Veluppillai, 1972
23 Panduwasnuwara Tamil Slab Inscription
(Kurunegala District)
12th century A.D.
(5th  year of Nissanka Malla)
Pillay, 1960
24 Padaviya slab inscription of Ainnurruvar
(Anuradhapura District)
12th century A.D.
(Ainnurruvar - A South Indian merchant guild)
Veluppillai, 1971
25 Viharahinna Slab Inscription of Ainnurruvar
(Matale District)
12th century A.D.
(Ainnurruvar - A South Indian merchant guild)
Veluppillai, 1971
26 Budumuttava Vihara Virakkoti slab inscription
(Kurunegala District)
12th century A.D.
(Virakkoti - A South Indian merchant community)
Pathmanathan, 1994
27 Ahanlundawa junction inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
12th century A.D.
Veluppillai, 1972
28 Padaviya inscription of Manikkararom
(Anuradhapura District)
12-13th centuries A.D. Veluppillai, 1971
29 Gomarankadawala Rock Inscription of Kalingarayan
(Trincomalee District)
13th century A.D.
30 Galtempitiya Virakkoti slab inscription
(Kurunegala District)
13th century A.D.
(Virakkoti - A South Indian merchant community)
Veluppillai, 1972
31 Rankoth Vehera Velaikkaran Matevan inscription
(Polonnaruwa District)
13th century A.D. Pathmanathan, 2004
32 Detiyamulla Tamil inscription
(Kurunegala District)
13th century A.D. Veluppillai, 1972

Dambadeniya Period (1232-1341 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Mehiella Tamil inscription
(Mallawapitiya, Kurunegala District)
13th-14th centuries A.D. Veluppillai, 1971

Gampola Period (1341-1412 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Lankatilaka Vihara Tamil Inscription
(Kandy District)
14th century A.D.
(Buvanekabahu IV)
Paranavitana, 1960
2 Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription
(Kegalle District)
14th century A.D.
(Arya Cakravartis of Jaffna ?)
Pathmanathan, 2005

Kotte Period (1412-1597 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Tirukkovil pillar inscription
(Ampara District)
14th-15th centuries A.D.
(10th year of Vijayabahu: assumed to be between Vijayabahu V & Vijayabahu VI))
Veluppillai, 1971
2 Galle Trilingual Slab Inscription
(Galle District)
15th century A.D.
(7th year of Yung Lo, China)
Paranavitana, 1933
3 Naimmana Tamil Slab Inscription
(Matara District)
15th century A.D.
(10th year of Parakramabahu VI)
Pathmanathan, 2005
4 Jaffna Tamil Inscription
(Jaffna District)
15th century A.D.
(Between 1448 and 1467)
Indrapala, 1971
5 Munnesvaram Temple Inscription
(Puttalam District)
15th century A.D.
(38th year of Parakramabahu VI)
Veluppillai, 1971
6 Kalutara Tamil Pillar Inscription
(Kalutara District)
15th century A.D. Veluppillai, 1971
7 Tamil Pillar Inscription, Vijayabahu VI, Colombo Museum
(Unknown)
16th century A.D.
(4th year of Vijayabahu VI)
Pathmanathan, 2005
8 Tirukkovil Tamil slab inscription
(Cittira Velayuta Swami Kovil, Ampara District)
16th century A.D.
(10th year of Vijayabahu VI)
Veluppillai, 1971
9 Tamil inscription at Fort Fredrick
(Trincomalee District)
16th century A.D. Codrington, 1927
10/11 Two Tamil inscriptions at Urumpirai Karunakara Pillayar Temple
(Jaffna District)
16th century A.D. Indrapala, 1973

Kandyan Period (c.1591-1815 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Paragama Tamil inscription
(Kurunegala District)
(16-17 centuries A.D.) Veluppillai, 1971
Veluppillai, 1972
2 Tamil inscription on a unique conch, Colombo Museum
(??)
Pre-British period
(probably 16-17 centuries A.D.)
Pathmanathan, 2005
3 Verugal inscription
(Trincomalee District)
After the 17th century A.D. Veluppillai, 1971
4/5 Two inscriptions from Tirukkovil
(Subrahmanya temple, Ampara District)
18th century A.D. Veluppillai, 1971
6 Kalpitiya cemetery inscription
(Puttalam District)
Probably 1808/19th century A.D.
(A tombstone)
Veluppillai, 1972

British Ceylon (1815-1948 A.D.)

No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Kalpitiya Dutch Fort cemetery inscription
(Puttalam District)
19th century A.D.
(A tombstone)
Veluppillai, 1971

See also

References
1) Bell, H.C.P., 1907. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: North-Central, Northern and Central Provinces. Annual Report - 1907. p.37.
2) Codrington, H.W., 1927. The inscription at Fort Frederick, Trincomalee. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 30(80), pp.448-451.
3) Gunasingam, S., 1975. A Tamil slab inscription at Nilaveli. The Ceylon Journal of the Humanities. Colombo. pp.61–71.
4) Indrapala, K., 1963. The Nainativu Tamil Inscription of Parakramabahu I. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XXI; No, I. University of Ceylon. Peradeniya. pp.63-70.
5) Indrapala, K. (ed), 1971. Epigraphia Tamilica. Volume I, Part I. Jaffna Archaeological Society. pp.29-32.
6) Indrapala, K., 1973. உரும்பிராய் கருணகாரப் பிள்ளையார் கோயிலிலுள்ள கல்வெட்டுக்கள் (In Tamil). உரும்பிராய் கருணாகரப் பிள்ளையார் கோயில் மகா கும்பாபிசேக மலர். pp.34-38.
7) Indrapala, K., 1991. Inscription no. two from fort Hammenhiel, Kayts. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon: Vol: VI Part: II. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. Sri Lanka. pp.154-160.
8) Paranavitana, S., 1933. Two Tamil pillar inscriptions from Budumuttava. The Tamil inscription on the Galle Trilingual Slab. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Vol. III. pp.302-312-,331-341.
9) Paranavitana, S., 1934. A Tamil slab inscription from Palamottai. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon: Vol. IV. Archaeological survey of Ceylon. London. pp.191-196.
10) Paranavitana, S., 1960. Lankatilaka inscriptions. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XVIII, Nos. 1 & 2. pp.1-45.
11) Pathmanathan, S., 1976. The Tamil Inscription from Hingurakdamana. Vidyodaya J. Art.Sci. Litt., Vol 5 Nos.1 & 2. pp.56-61.
12) Pathmanathan, S., 1987. Hinduism in Sri Lanka (Circa AD 1000-1250): Indian Influences on the Development of Saivism. p.53.
13) Pathmanathan, S., 1994. The Tamil Slab Inscription of the Virakkoti at Budumuttawa, Nikaweratiya, Urbanization at Magala. pp.15-30.
14) Pathmanathan, S., 1995. The Tamil Pillar Inscription from Mankanay. pp.31-41.
15) Pathmanathan, S., 2004. New Light on the Decline of Polonnaruwa (1196-1215): The Tamil Pillar Inscription From Rankot Vihara. Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions. Sri Lanka. Vol. 9. November 10. 2004. p.31.
16) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp.1-14,15-22,23-28,39-52,69-74,75-78,79-85.
17) Pathmanathan, S., 2006. இலங்கைத் தமிழ்ச் சாசனங்கள்: Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka (In Tamil). Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs. ISBN: 955-9233-10-6. pp. ix-x,39-42.
18) Pillai, K. K., 1960. A pillar inscription from Moragahawela: University of Ceylon Review (Vol: XVIII Nos 1 & 2). Ceylon University Press. pp. 46-49.
19) Pillay, K. K., 1960. A Tamil inscription from Panduvasnuvara: University of Ceylon Review (Vol: XVIII Nos 3 & 4). Ceylon University Press. pp. 157-162.
20) Pillai, K.K., 1962. Mankanai inscription of Gajabhahu II. University of Ceylon Review: Vol. XX; No:1. pp.12-14.
21) Pushparatnam, P., 2014. Tamil Brahmi Inscription Belonging to 2200 years ago, Discovered by German Archaeological Team in Southern Sri Lanka. Jaffna University International Research Conference. pp.541-545.
22) Raghupathy, P., 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna: an archaeological survey. Published by Mrs Thillimalar Ragupathy; Madras. pp.199-204.
23) Somadeva, R., 1998. ආනෛයිකෝඞ්ඩායි ලෝහ මුද්‍රාව: ස්වරාජ්‍යවාදී ප‍්‍රවේශයෙන් ඔබ්බට; The Annaikoddai Seal. Beyond the homelands approach  (In Sinhala). (editors: Gunawardhana, P.; Gunatilaka, H.M.,; Dissanayaka, A.,; Kumaratunga, D.G.). Sarasavi. ISBN: 955-96402-0-3. pp.39-49.
24)  Somadeva, R., 2010. තිස්සමහාරාම කුරුටු ලිපියේ ජර්මානු කියැවීම ශාස්ත්‍රීය නොමග යැවීමක්ද? (In Sinhala). Dinithi: Vol. 1: Part IV. ISSN 2012-7189. pp.2-5.
25) Veluppillai, A., 1971. Ceylon Tamil Inscriptions: Part I. Published by the author. pp.1-77.
26) Veluppillai, A., 1972. Ceylon Tamil Inscriptions: Part II. Published by the author. pp.1-94.
27)  Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.242-255.

This page was last updated on 4 May 2023
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