From Raja de Silva’S book Sigiriya — as excerpted in the Island, 18 April 2021, with the title “Dangerous and meticulous work copying Sigiriya frescoes in Bell era (1896)
The village of Sigiriya is mentioned in the 16th century book of Sinhala verse titled Mandarampura-puvata. From then on, the site seems to have disappeared from the public record until its rediscovery in the 19th century. Major Forbes of the 78th Highlanders and two companions rode from Polonnaruva through Minneriya and Peikkulam in search of Sigiriya, and reached the site early in the morning of a day in April 1831 (Forbes 1841).
One day in 1996 our doorbell rang at Woodlark Grove in the suburb of Glenalta in Adelaide . …. And there was Joe Hoad with two paintings he had composed in celebration of Sri Lanka’s triumph at the World Cup earlier in the year. These products had not been commissioned. They were self-inspired and emanated from his profound joy at the manner in which a little island nation – one that was not unlike his own birthplace of Barbados – had tamed a powerful cricketing force that was a bullyboy in the cricketing politics of the 1990s.
This photograph taken there and then in our back garden marks the moment of the gifting ….. appropriately within an Australian backdrop of the bushfire danger kind. But, unlike that landscape, the paintings are unique. To my mind they are heirlooms. In conjunction with Verite Research and Shamara Wettimuny, I have approached the National Library Services Board in Colombo with the suggestion that they should be placed within its portals in public display with a suitable plaque.
Rohan de Soysa,copy of a PowerPoint Presentation made to the National Trust of Sri Lanka on September 29, 2016 by Rohan de Soysa transcribed into text format …. with coloured underlining [as distinct from that in black] being emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
The Origins: The `43 Group was the first modern art movement in Sri Lanka. It arose because a group of artists felt that the art being practiced and taught at the time was too academic and rigid; nor did it attempt to follow new developments in European art since the early 20th Century. They therefore decided to form a group more open to these new developments but with a distinct Ceylonese stamp and flavour.
An Accidental Encounter …. and An Illuminating Outcome
When I was in Sri Lanka at some point in the late 1990s on research work, my cricketing links with such individuals as PI Pieris and Michael Tissera encouraged me to take in some of the international cricket matches taking place in the capital city of Colombo. On one occasion I witnessed a match at the Khettarama Stadium where Sri Lanka A took on a West Indian side. I was in the BCCSL section at midwicket where the spectators were few and quite interspersed. I heard an elderly gentleman behind me explaining some of the finer points of the unfolding match to his wife beside him. At one point I turned round and amiably indicated that he understood the finer points of cricket. It turned out that he was a venerable lawyer from Kandy named Kshemananda Sangakkara. Kshema and Kumari Sangakkara were watching their son Kumar playing for the A team.
Raja De Silva commenting on GananāthObēyesēkere:The Buddha in Srī Lankā. Histories and Stories.London: Routledge. 2019 336 pp.
The author [GO], an eminent anthropologist, has rejected the evidence (archaeological and literary) that I depended on in my interpretation (de Silva, Raja 2002., 155 pp) of the meaning of Sīgiriya and its paintings: that the site was a monastic complex and the paintings were representations of the goddess Tara. He has criticized my thesis (1) by resorting to assertions, several untrue and the rest of no merit and (2) by asking rhetorical questions. He has mentioned without criticism the interpretation of Sīgiriya by Siri Gunasinghe (SG) (2008), his friendly colleague of the Peradeniya University.
In this era of political correctness and moral extremism exemplified in the Me Too movement, the assault on ‘offensive’ statues of famous men with questionable attributes, etc, etc, let me tweak the nether regions of these evangelical reformists by featuring Donald Friend, an Australian homosexual and paedophile of a brazen disposition, who displayed a wide range of artistic talents and happened to sojourn in Ceylon for quite a while — linking up with the talented and wealthy Bawa brothers (themselves members of the gay middle class community in the island’s tolerant ‘climate’– an environment that also attracted Arthur C. Clarke) ….Michael Roberts
A Note from Fabian D. K. Schokman of Moratuwa, 22 March 2020
Dear Michael, Thank you for this. I believe, as with most of the “lesser minorities,” the Bharatha communitydid not have its own classification until the 2001 census, when there was a breakthrough mostly on account of the Chetties and their successful fight to be classed as a distinct ethnicity. Throughout census history, one can see the Chetties demanding to be classed as distinct from the Tamils. The term “race” in SL, must always be seen as a synonym for “ethnicity” and not with the same connotation it derives in the West.
I write this as a personal appreciation of a dear friend Dr R.K. (Rajpal) de Silva. I shall leave it to others more qualified than me to write about his contribution to recording the history of paintings in Sri Lanka mainly during the Colonial period. His life at the Royal College, Colombo and his lifelong association with his schoolmates are aspects that I only know of in passing. He has written about his life as a medical student and as a doctor which makes interesting reading.
Pix by Athula Devapriya
When Mano rang to say that Rajpal passed away that day, I was full of grief. I had had a telephone conversation with him a few days before. Though infirm, he was at that time full of good cheer. It confirms the adage that “death comes like a thief in the night”.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.