Category Archives: Portuguese in Indian Ocean

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

Sri Lankan Baila: Its Roots and Variations

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, courtesy of THE CEYLANKAN, Vol XXI, No 3, August 2018 … with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

The extraordinary love of the Portuguese for music is epitomised at El Ksar el Kabir in Morocco, in 1578, where 10 000 guitars lay on the battlefield, near the dead Portuguese soldiers. The Portuguese took guns and guitars to battlefields! Is it surprising that the Portuguese presence is vibrant through Sri Lankan popular music – Baila?

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, commoditification, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, female empowerment, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, performance, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

Hardy Women: Yesterday’s Africans in Today’s Lanka

African sisters in Sri Lanka

On the road to Sirambiyadi

On the road to Sirambiyadi

In every culture family is an important element of human life. For centuries Ceylon had been a maritime domain for foreign traders, defiant conquerors and zealous missionaries. All these foreigners left behind their ancestors, who with time, integrated into our society. There were many nationalities who lived here in those ancient times – Arabs, Europeans, Indians and Africans. Much focus has been given to the various ethnic clans, but, people of African origin domiciled here were marginalised. Once in a while, these African-Sri Lankans would capture our attention via a youtube song video. One of the last such families of direct African origin live in Puttalam. The name Puttalam, is believed to be derived from the Tamil word “upputhalam” – uppu meaning salt and thalam meaning area of production, thus Puttalam is still famous for salt.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under British imperialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, gender norms, heritage, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Fr. S G Perera: A Pioneer Historian in Modern Times

Chryshane Mendis, in the 20th Century Historian Series …… https://www.archaeology.lk/6055

The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.

 Fr. S. G. Perera (image from The Aloysian 1946-1950, Volume 06, No. 03)

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, nationalism, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, world events & processes

Understanding Military Organisation via the Sinhala War Poems – the Hatana Kaavya

Cenan Pirani: Widening the study of military organization in the early modern South Asian context: an examination of the Sinhala Hatana Kavya”, in South Asian History & Culture, Vol9/2, April 2018, pp. 207-24.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, military strategy, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, Uncategorized, war reportage

Hai Hoyi … Baila Natamu! Sri Lankan Baila

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, in The Island, 2 May 2014

The extraordinary love of the Portuguese for music is epitomised at El Ksar el Kabir in Morocco, 1578, where 10,000 guitars lay on the battlefield, near the dead Portuguese soldiers. The Portuguese took guns and guitars to battlefields! Is it surprising that the Portuguese presence is vibrant through Sri Lankan popular music – Baila?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, colonisation schemes, commoditification, cultural transmission, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, performance, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes