Thunukai Pillar Inscription of Kassapa V

Thunukai inscription
The Thunukai (or Tunukayi) Pillar Inscription (Sinhala: තුනුකායි ටැම් ලිපිය) is a stone pillar inscription discovered from Thunukai village in Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Presently, the pillar is on the display at the Archaeological Museum of Jaffna.

The pillar was discovered from a village named Thunukai near Kottai Kattana-kulam in D.R.O. Division Punakari (see the note below) in 1973 (Ranawella, 2001). It was later taken to the Archaeological Museum at Jaffna. 

Note: The districts of Sri Lanka are divided into administrative sub-units known as Divisional Secretariats. They were formerly known as D.R.O. Divisions (Divisional Revenue Officer). Later the D.R.O.s became 'A.G.A. Divisions (Assistant Government Agents)' and finally to the present 'D.S. Divisions (Divisional Secretary)'. By today, the boundaries of  these old divisions may have been altered.

The inscription is on a rectangular stone pillar of which a part at the top had been broken off (Ranawella, 2001). The remaining pillar is about 3 feet 11.5 inches tall and 9 inches wide and the inscription has been engraved on three faces of the pillar while the fourth face contains the figures of a monk's fan, a crow, and a dog. Presently, there are 14 lines of writing on the face A & C and 13 lines on face B (Ranawella, 2001). However, the original pillar is said to have had 19 lines on the face A & C and 18 lines on face B (Ranawella, 2001). Symbols of the Sun and the Moon is also said to be on the broken off part of the fourth face (Ranawella, 2001).

Tunukayi inscription
The pillar contains a Sinhala inscription written in the Sinhala scripts of the 10th century (Ranawella, 2001). It has been erected to register certain immunities granted by a king in respect of a village named Polkandugama owned by a hospital (Ranawella, 2001). The preserved fragment does not contain the name of the hospital as well as the king who issued the decree. However, it contains the names of five officials who promulgated the royal decree. These names are occurred in the same official capacities and in the same order in the Kallam-pattuwa and Ayitigeveva pillar inscriptions which are dated in the fifth regnal year of King Kassapa V [(914-923 A.D.) Ranawella, 2001]. Therefore, scholars have retraced the name of the king who should be mentioned in this inscription as King Kassapa V.

The interpretations for the Thunukai pillar inscription by Sirimal Ranawella (2001) are given below,

  • Tunukayi pillar inscription
    Reign        : Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.)
    Period        : 10th century A.D.
    Script         : Medieval Sinhala
    Language  : Medieval Sinhala

    Transcript: Side B: <<....(6)Vedhala (7)bad Polka- (8)ndu-gamat Ra- (9)tladu Pas- (10)laduvan ....>>
    Translation: << respect of Polkandugama which is attached to the hospital situated in....>>

We learn from this epigraph that the village Tunukayi, situated in the District of Jaffna, had been known as Polkandugama, a typical Sinhala name, and the District of Jaffna was under the rule of the kings of the Anuradhapura Kingdom during the tenth century. The fact that the language of this record is Sinhala indicates that the majority of the population in that region at the time were Sinhalese.
Citation: Ranawella, 2001. p.326.
1) Ranawella, G.S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon: Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6.  pp.326-328.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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