Category Archives: ancient civilisations

Jaffna Fort in Ruins: Evoking Its Chequered History

Dishan Joseph, in Daily News, 4 Septmber 2021, where the title is “Jaffna Fort: Reflections of Dutch History” … reproduced here with highlighting inserted by The Editor, Thuppahi

The Northern Province is embellished with history and culture. It is a land laced with mystic aura. Perhaps the most iconic landmark in the Jaffna town area is the massive Dutch Fort, which stands as a historic sentinel. This fortified superstructure is the second largest Dutch Fort in Sri Lanka.

For centuries this Fort has been associated with the strategic defence on the maritime boundary of our resplendent island. It is probably the most visited destination of the Northern Province by local and foreign visitors, the other being the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil. From the 13th century to the 17th century, the Nallur Rajadani featured prominently in ancient Ceylon.

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Exploring the Etymological Strands of the Word “Thiruketheeswaram

Chandre Dharmawardana

The word stub “ket,”, கேத, in the place name:  Tiru-k-keteeswaram,  திருக்கேதீசுவரம்

In finding a meaning for the component –ket– in Tiru-ket-heesvaram, well known Engineer Thiru Arumugam has quoted an interpretation given in 1849 by Pridham which leans on a mythological tale of Vishnu’s exlir of mortality that fell into the hands of a demon. The demon was said to be cut into two and became Rahu and Ketu (.இராகு கேது) recognized in astrology.  Predham stretches his imagination very far to convert the Tamil -கேத- sound to கேது in finding  an “explanation” or rationalization for the stub  -கேத- found in the place name.

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Vijaya and Kuveni: Two Legendary Figures of the Pali Chronicles

Chandre Dharmawardana

“This may confuse some since Madura became a part of the Chola kingdom, and that Vijaya called for a Chola princess after rejecting Kuveni. In reality, many south Indian kings sought North Indian brides as they were fair-skinned”.**

Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras, are mentioned in the Ashokasthamba (Asoka-Pillar) inscriptions (3rd century BC although some historians think the pillar inscriptions may have been even earlier). When did Vijaya come to Tambrapanni? Is Vijaya even a real person?

I believe there have been many invasions (basically, not necessarily invasions, but people coming in even to farm, fish or trade, and by boats and settling down). Even Vijaya’s landing as described in the Pali chronicles was accidental.

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Thiruketheeswaram: the Site of a Temple from Pre-Historic Times

Thiru Arumugam, being an article presented recently in The CEYLANKAN, Journal of the Ceylon Society of Australia. No. 3, August 2021

Thiruketheeswaram is located about eight km north of Mannar Town. It is on the coastal mainland of Ceylon, near the seashore on the direct coast road from Mannar to Jaffna. It has been the site of a Temple dedicated to Siva from pre-historic times. The place name of Thiru-Kethu-Iswaram has been devised as follows.  ‘Thiru’ means sacred or holy and “Iswaran” is another name for Siva. As regards ‘Kethu’, Charles Pridham in his 1849 book A Historical, Political and Statistical account of Ceylon and its Dependencies describes how the gods asked Vishnu to prepare an elixir which would make them immortal. The elixir was prepared by churning the oceans but a demon who was a bystander also managed to drink the elixir. When Vishnu realised this, he cut off the demon’s head, but he was too late as the elixir had already made him immortal. The two parts became Rahu and Kethu, which are significant planets in the Hindu astrological system. In order to propitiate his sin, Kethu (Fig. 1) wandered from place to place and ultimately reached the shores of Lanka. He performed severe penances and he   was ultimately blessed with the Lord’s vision and the place where this occurred was named Thiru-Kethu-Iswaram or Thiruketheeswaram.

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Sunset on Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala

 

The Central American country of Guatemala boasts some very large lakes. Lake Izabal is the country’s largest, and Lake Atitlán is probably the most renowned (some have called it the world’s most beautiful lake). The lake in our image, Petén Itzá, is also well worth a look – and lots of people feel it’s definitely worth a visit, as many journey here to take in the stunning scenery. Petén Itzá is popular with the local wildlife as well – crocodiles, spider monkeys, jaguars and brockets thrive here, and the northeastern shore of the lake hosts a butterfly reserve.

Besides all of the lakeside splendour, the area is rich in archaeological sites. It’s said at least 27 Maya archaeological sites are located in the lake’s vicinity, including Tayasal, once a large city.

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Kurunegala Then and Now

Uditha Devapriya,  in The Island, 31 July 2021, where the title reads “Round and About in Kurunegala”

Covering 65 kilometres, the road from Colombo to Ambepussa is fairly straight. From there it turns left and right, up and down. To get to Kurunegala via Ambepussa, you have to pass Alawwa and Polgahawela. Between these regions the terrain rises, offering you a glimpse of the hill country. Then the mountains recede from view, the mist settles, and the chaos of urban life returns. The shops teem with life, the clock-tower looms over you, and the heat rises. From afar, the faintest outline of Ethagala catches your eye. This is your first glimpse of Kurunegala.

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Adam’s Bridge? Evaluating the Legend

Patrick Ranasinghe, at elanka 2 August 2021, where the title runs thus: “Could This Be The Legendary “Magic Bridge” Connecting India And Sri Lanka? “

eLanka _ Could This Be The Legendary _Magic Bridge_ Connecting India And Sri Lanka_ – by Patrick Ranasinghe – eLanka

Location   The bridge starts as a chain of shoals from the Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island. It ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. Pamban Island is accessed from the Indian mainland by the 2-km-long Pamban Bridge. Mannar Island is connected to mainland Sri Lanka by a causeway.

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Sinhalaness in Pre-British Ceylon: Issues and Pathways

A Review Essay by Alan Strathern** dissecting a Book by Michael Roberts published in 2004

This item was located by Thuppahi in the web-site Colombo Telegraph on 26 December 2012 (see https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-royal-we-sinhala-identity-in-the-dynastic-state/). However, it appeared initially in 2005 in the prestigious journal Modern Asian Studies,  39: 1013–1026.

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE by Michael Roberts, 7 August 2021

This item is a review essay not a standard review. Alan Strathern is an accomplished historian who happens to be the son of a leading social anthropologist, viz., Marilyn Strathern of ANU and Cambridge University. You will find that his prose is as refined and clear-cut as demanding. After some hesitation, I decided to adhere to my normal policy of highlighting some parts of the text with blue colourfor the benefit of readers facing the difficulties posed by complex issues in historical sociology. On occasions I have also imposed a break in extra-long paragraphs. The illustrations too are my impositions intended to promote reader interest.

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Introducing Alan Strathern’s Work to Sri Lankan Aficianados

Alan Strathern’s first major work was Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka: Portuguese Imperialism in a Buddhist Land. …. published in 2008 and since then he has extended his reach. Though in far too belated manner, Thuppahi here introduces his work to a Sri Lankan audience …. Begiining with a citation leading to CR De Silva’s review of his book on Sri Lanka….. and ending with his own introduction of self to the world in the Oxford University web site.

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A Puny Seed that a Giant Oak Became: The Chinese Communist Party

Kamal Nissanka, in The Island, 11 July 2021, where the title runs as “Hundred Years of the Communist Party of China” …. with highlighting added by The Editor Thuppahi

The Chinese Communist Party was formed on July 1, 1921 at the top floor of a private school for girls in Pubalu Street, Shanghai, the industrial city of China. The building was deserted except for a watchman who was on the ground floor. Students and teachers of the school were on summer holidays. Originally nine men gathered at this place. They were from various Marxist study groups in China who wanted to form a Communist Party. A little later three other Chinese and two foreigners joined the nine.

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