Category Archives: Portuguese in Indian Ocean

Baththalangunduwa: An Isle Intriguing

Maneshka Borham, in Sunday Island, 28 January 2018

Around 38 kilometers or 20 nautical miles from the town of Kalpitiya off the Dutch Bay lies the island of Baththalangunduwa. A thin strip of an island about a mere five square kilometers in size, it is one of the few inhabited ones off the coast of Kalpitiya. However, despite  being a thriving fishing village, the island in its recent times has also become a popular destination for travellers looking for adventure off the beaten track.

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Filed under centre-periphery relations, economic processes, heritage, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people

The Beira Lake in Colonial Times

Shannine Daniel, courtesy of The Roar, 14 December 2017  where the title runs “The Beira Lake and its colonial history”

The man-made lakes—or tanks—constructed in Sri Lanka were built with one purpose in mind: to hold the rainwater which would help with agricultural activities throughout the year. There are several stories related to the history of such tanks, many of which were made by the kings. The Beira Lake, however, located in the city of Colombo, was built for a completely different reason—and not by one of our ancient kings either.

Thr Lake today

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Filed under art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, military strategy, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, world events & processes

The Coconut Palm in Sri Lanka: From Yesterday to Today

WTJS Kaviratne, in Daily News, ….http://www.dailynews.lk/2017/12/07/features/136574/origin-and-evolution-coconut-palm

Anthropologists, explorers, invaders and travellers had made numerous references on the evolution of this versatile palm grown in more than 90 countries across the world. Some of these were mere theories based on assumptions yet to be proved scientifically. Extensive research is still continuing on the origin of the coconut palm on the foundations provided  through gene analysis by scientists.

Since time immemorial, the coconut plant has been found growing luxuriantly along the beaches of tropical countries. And certain scientists argue that coconut palm is not indigenous to any of those countries even if they grow there. Fossil remains of coconut up to 35 to 55 million years old have been excavated in Australia and India proving that coconut palm belongs to the Kingdom of Plants in the Prehistoric era. Continue reading

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Nath-thal in Ceylon in My Youthful Years

Alex Van Arkadie

Long before the legendary seafarer ‘Sinbad’ chanced to harbor in waters lapping the little isle of  ‘Serendip’, or European colonizers discovered Ptolemy’s ‘Ceylan’, pilgrims from the distant Orient have been visiting here. During the reign of the Indian Emperor Asoka (2nd Century BC), the island’s North Central Province was home to Sinhala Kings under whose patronage Buddhism spread. Following India’s gift of a sapling from the Bodhi Tree under which Sidharta Gautama Buddha attained ‘nirvana’, the ancient city of Anuradhapura draws pilgrims and curious visitors from everywhere. The tree is regarded as the oldest in the world (2,200 years). Similarly, a painting in the office of Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Rome, depicts  “Emissaries of the Sinhala Royal Court presenting Credentials to Emperor Claudius” (according to Roman Historian Gaius Plinius Secundas, AD 23-79, pix. below).

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About the Portuguese Burghers and Kaffirs

Nan, in Island, 4 November 2017  where the title reads as “The Portuguese Burghers and Kaffirs”

Ethnic groups are disappearing and thus the research interest on these endangered human groups, their language and culture. One such research that is on-going is on the Portuguese Burghers by the Universidade de Lisboa with funding from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme of SOAS, University of London. The International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) which is collaborating with the research, facilitated a discussion on the Sri Lankan Portuguese Burghers and their heritage with those on the research project: Hugo Cordosa, Patricia Costa, Rui Pereira, Mahesha Radakrishna – all of the University of Lisbon; Dinali Fernando of the University of Kelaniya and Earle Barthelot, representative of the Portuguese Burgher Community and former secretary of the Burgher Union of Batticaloa.. This was on Tuesday 31 October.

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Reviewing “Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean”

Richard Fynes,  reviewing Marie-Françoise Boussac, Jean- Françoise Salles & Jean-Baptiste (eds.) Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean,  Delhi: Primus Books. 2016. ISBN 97893840820792  …………… in IIAS Newsletter,  Summer 2017

This edited volume delivers much more than is suggested by its title, since it includes discussions of emporia as far inland as Delhi, the time-scale covered by its articles extends from the 20th century BC to the 18th century AD, and since not only the Indian Ocean, but also the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea are discussed by the various authors. Given the wide range and disparate nature of the twenty-four papers in the volume, how should one orient oneself among them? Best to begin with Elizabeth Lambourn’s ‘Describing a Lost Camel’ – Clues for a West Asian Mercantile Networks in South Asian Maritime Trade (Tenth-Twelfth Centuries AD). The volume taken as a whole forms a contribution to the genre of world history and Lambourn provides a clear-eyed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. Although Lambourn’s paper is primarily concerned with the two hundred years from the tenth- to the twelfth centuries AD, her masterly analysis of the sources and criticism of the various methodologies in which they are employed provide the reader with a prism with which to view the remaining papers in the volume. Lambourn begins her account with a review of the relevant archaeological and documentary evidence. It is salutary to learn just how insecure is the dating of many South Asian ceramic types and consequently of the archaeological sites whose dating has been largely derived from ceramic evidence. Lambourn notes the problems posed by pluridisciplinary character of the sources and their simultaneous use. Her paper focuses on the port of Sanjan, in the domain of the western Indian dynasty of the Rastrakuta, where, for the tenth century there is rare conjunction of evidence from archaeology, Arabic geographical writings and Indian epigraphy. Her discussion is rich both in evidence and insight, and she gives due acknowledgment to the work of Ranabir Chakravarti, whose work has led scholars to reformulate the questions they ask of the sources. Lambourn’s findings lead her to speculate on the nature of world history and the relationship between micro- and macro history, as she expresses dissatisfaction that she is “left with an eclectic collection of small insights and few satisfactory larger narratives.” Such honest appraisals of the conclusions of one’s research invite further questions and are thus a stimulant to further research. Continue reading

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The Karāva People in Fable and Tale

S. N. Arseculeratne

The Karāva people of Ceylon claim to be descended from the Kuru refugees, who scattered after their defeat in the Great War between the Pandavas  and the Kauravas1 or Kurus, related in the Mahabharata. The Kauravas settled in many parts of India, Bengal and in Ceylon. In Ceylon, the recorded descriptions of the Kauravas have been few, but mention has been made from around the 11th century to the 15th century due mainly to the military involvements of the Kauravas (now called the Karavas).

 A flag which belonged to Don Pedro Arsecularatna of Maggona, depicting the arrival of a group of Karāva chiefs and retainers …. The square towards the bottom has the peacock with 3 people on it. (a) King Rajasinghe II; (b) The Dutch ship’s captain [off Negombo]; (c)  Mudaliyar  Arseculeratne of Negombo

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