Category Archives: Portuguese in Indian Ocean

“Goyi-Lansi”: Badinage founded on Class Differentiation laced with Ethnicity and Prejudice

Michael Roberts

This article is inspired by Fabian Schokman of Moratuwa whose questioning comment led to a brief exchange involving Eardley Lieversz and myself. I will place these exchanges first before proceeding to address the context and implications of the article on “Goyigama Lansiyās” written by a retired Sinhala police officer of senor rank.

This essay was obviously penned in light-hearted spirit. But, in conveying ethnographic tales of past times in genial tones, the account reveals questionable ‘seams,’ i.e. strands, within the socio-political order. Readers are advised to absorb the essay “The Goyigama Lansiyaas”[1] as an initial measure …. before proceeding to the exchanges and the arguments below.

the 2nd Pic may well be British ladies and gents in a Whites only club

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, British colonialism, caste issues, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, Sri Lankan scoiety, taking the piss, tolerance, unusual people, world events & processes

The VVT Thonies and Their Mastery of the Oceans Past

Somasiri Devendra, in Island, 13 July 2019, with this title “VVT, Tahiti, and the ghost of the Bounty. The ship from Valvettithurai which sailed the seven seas” and this dedication “Dedicated to the late Mr. Kumaraswamy of Oxonia Institute, Colombo, proud son of Valvettithurai, with whom I was to co-author a work on our northern nautical culture. On him, be Peace.”

article_imageA traditional Thoni showing the backward-coiling Surul and nailed-on occulus.

The story begins …

In 1937 an adventurous ‘Yankee’ sailed a small yacht round the world – the smallest to do so, at that time – stopping awhile in Ceylon. After many adventures, he returned to Ceylon in search of a Jaffna-built ship whose elegant lines had caught his eye. He found her, bought and refitted her in Colombo and sailed for Boston, with an all-Jaffna crew. Boston was as overwhelmed by the vision of this ‘ghost’ of the legendary Bounty, as by its dusky crew and of the voyage itself. But a couple of months later she was sailed again, this time with an all-American delivery crew, to Tahiti. And then, like the Bounty, she disappears.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under arab regimes, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, economic processes, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, unusual people, world events & processes

Galle Fort Renovations and Embellishments

Sunday Times News Item, 7 July 2019, where the title is “Stage II of Galle Fort development project under way”

Work on Stage II of the proposed ‘Galle Fort Development Project’, has commenced. The project funded by the World Bank is estimated to cost rupees 217 million. The project will be jointly handled by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, the Department of Archaeology, the Galle Heritage Foundation and the Sea Conservation Department. Stage I of the project which commenced in January this year is nearing completion.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, tourism, world events & processes

A Grand Felicitation in Print for KD Paranavitana

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Fortresses in Lanka in Past Time

Shannine Daniel, in Roar Media, where the title is “Forts and Fortresses of Ancient and Colonial Sri Lanka,”

Another lesser known ancient fortress is the Mapagala fortress—the ruins of this fortress can be found close to the Sigiriya rock and the Sigiriya tank. Image courtesy triposo.com

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under architects & architecture, authoritarian regimes, cultural transmission, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, military strategy, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, security, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, world events & processes

Sinhalese War Poems and the Portuguese

Rohini Paranavitana … a reprint of an article from Jorge Flores (ed.) Re-exploring the links. History and Constructed History=ies between Portugal and Sri Lanka, Wiesdbaden, Harassowitz Verlag , 2007, pp. 49-62.

Sri Lankan classical literature enriched with Buddhist thought did not promote any war or violence up to about the 16th century. Even though war is involved in these writings, the classical writers took the North Indian legendary war as a model. The European model of war was experienced in Sri Lanka only after the arrival of the Portuguese on the island. It was quite a new experience to the Sinhala king and his army to retaliate against Europeans as invaders. The Portuguese engaged in ruthless war with a nation which had a great poetic tradition that made use of this new experience to generate a new area of literary expression within the tradition, referred to as “war poems”.

 

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under atrocities, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, political demonstrations, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, vengeance, violence of language, war reportage, world events & processes

Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History: A Book Review

Chandra C de Silva, in book review of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, edited by Zoltán Biedermann and Alan Strathern, London, UCL Press, 2017. xiv, 340 p.

The significance of this volume of twelve essays lies principally in its collective effort to reassess the importance of global connections in Sri Lanka’s history up to 1850. Previous historical writing had sporadically dealt with this theme. For instance, in the area of ancient history the writings of Sri Lankan scholars such as Senerat Paranavithane, Senake Bandaranayake, and Sudarshan Seneviratne have placed Sri Lanka in the context of archaeological research in India. Historians of medieval Sri Lanka, notably Sirima Kiribamune, W. M. Sirisena, and S. Pathmanathan paid considerable attention to extra-local linkages. Writing on more recent Sri Lankan history, Jorge Flores, S. Arasaratnam, and John Holt (to name but a select few) have made significant contributions to our understanding on how the external world was perceived and received in Sri Lanka up to the mid-19th Century. Furthermore, thanks to the scholarship of a new generation of scholars (including the editors of this volume), we now know much more on how Sri Lanka was part of the wider worlds of Sanskrit literature, Buddhist learning, Cola power, Islam, and of Western colonial empires. Nevertheless, with the growth of the nationalist movement against British colonial rule and the first half century of independence, the emphasis by many historians (including myself) has been on the study of Sri Lanka as a unit. As the editors point out, internal ethnic conflict in recent times has also led to a continued emphasis on the evolution of Sri Lanka and its peoples at the expense of how Sri Lanka engaged with the world beyond its shores.

 

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, economic processes, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, religiosity, security, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, world events & processes, zealotry

%d bloggers like this: