Negama Pillar Inscription (lost)

Negama Pillar Inscription
The Negama Pillar Inscription (Sinhala: නෑගම ටැම් ලිපිය) was an inscription set up in Negama village in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

The inscription
Negama is predominantly a Muslim village and the inscription was standing on the premises of Negama Mosque (Bell, 1895; Fernando, 1990; Wickremasinghe, 1928). H.C.P. Bell, the then Archaeological Commissioner had examined the pillar in 1895 (Bell, 1895). D.M.D.Z. Wickremasinghe published a comprehensive article regarding this inscription in 1928 in Epigraphia Zeylanica Vol. II. (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The inscription had been engraved on a pillar, measuring about 4.5 feet by 8.5 inches square, and a portion of its top was broken off (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The writing had covered all four sides of the pillar and twenty-one lines of writing (including the two top lines that were missing) were on each side (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The record was dated in the 7th century of a king whose name had been lost with the top of the pillar (Bell, 1895). However, on Palaeographic grounds, it was ascribed by scholars to the reign of King Kassapa IV [(963-980 A.D.) Wickremasinghe, 1928]. The content of the record dealt with the grant of the usual immunities to Kolayunugama, a village which had been given by Uda Mahapa to one (Ki)tambava Mahaya as Pamanu or descendible property (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

In the 1940s, the inscription disappeared from the ground of the Mosque. Marcus Fernando in his article records more details about the loss of the gold sheet as follows;
This 10th century inscription, which was standing within the precincts of the Negama Mosque, dealt with the grant of immunities to Kolayunugama, a village which had been given by an Uda Mahapa to one (Ki)tambava Mahaya a descendible property. The descendants of the grantee and the identity of the village were already in the limbo of the forgotten things, and the document had outlived its usefulness as a legal instrument.

A candidate for a Parliamentary Seat in the General Elections of 1947, holding an election meeting in the vicinity is said to have referred to this inscription. He was probably anxious 'amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill'. He is supposed to have said how these inscriptions help establish the rights of certain sections of the people. A few days after the inscribed stone was missing.

On the instructions of the Commissioner, the present writer, then working at neighboring Avukana scoured the area for weeks speaking to various people, but could not find any news whatsoever about it. It has not been heard of ever since. Neither did the candidate concerned win his seat.

Citation: Fernando, 1990. p.89.
The destiny of the disappeared inscription is obscure.

1) Bell, H.C.P., 1895. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon; Annual Report for 1895. p.5.
2) Fernando, W.B.M., 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka 1930-1950. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.89.
3) 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.14-19.

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This page was last updated on 21 April 2023

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