Jan Kok, Luc Bulten and Bente M. de Leede:
“Persecuted or permitted? Fraternal Polyandry in a Calvinist colony, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,” a work published by Cambridge University Press, 2022 … presented here in Thuppahi in synopsis
Abstract: Several studies assume that Calvinist Christianity severely undermined or even persecuted the practice of polyandry in the Sri Lankan areas under Dutch control. We analyze Dutch colonial policy and Church activities toward polyandry by combining ecclesiastical and legal sources. Moreover, we use the Dutch colonial administration of the Sinhalese population to estimate the prevalence of polyandry. We conclude that polyandry was far from extinct by the end of the Dutch period and we argue that the colonial government was simply not knowledgeable, interested and effective enough to persecute the practice in the rural areas under its control.
Readers of Thuppahi and Sri Lankan aficianados should note that Robert Knox provides descriptions of the polyandrous practices among the Sinhalese of the Kingdom of Sihale in the 17th century on the basis of his prolonged incarceraion in villages therein.
Likewise some readers may wish to dip into Michael Roberts, Facets of Ceylon History through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris, 2nd edn, Colombo, Bay Owl Press, 2020, pp. 31, 32, 37-38, 135-36.
They will find that Hannadige Jeronis Pieris, being from an ardent Christian family, was appalled by these long-standing practices among the Kandyan Sinhala people when he came across such patterns of life during his trading and planting days in the Kandy District.
Likewise, this book devotes a modicum of space to the British assaault on these pracices via the Kandyan Marriage Ordinance of 1858. This reformative measure, strangely (or maybe not so strangely), was taken in response to requests from some members of the Kandyan aristocracy. The pronouncement essayed by the British judge Thomas Berwick in this regard is a classic of its kind; and I encourage all students of modern life in our era of capitalism to erea … and re-read …. Berwick’s pronouncement on page 37 of this book.