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].

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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