Category Archives: Portuguese in Indian Ocean

Felicitations: Fr. SG Perera and His Work

Chryshane Mendis, in Sri Lanka archaeolgy.lk, 26 July 2017 …. and due ultimately to an article in The ALOYSIAN

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

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, world events & processes

Portuguese Colombo in 1662 via the Sketches of Esaias Bourse

Chryshane Mendis, in The HistoryFreek, 4 May 2020, where the title reads “Colombo in Transition 1662: Through the Eyes of Artist Esaias Boursse

This short essay serves as an introduction to a rare collection of sketches of Colombo and its environs in the year 1662.

Sinhalese soldier and labourer

Esaias Boursse was a servant of the VOC who made over hundred sketches of daily life in Colombo, mainly focused on the People and the work they were engaged in. This collection is called the “Tijkenboeck” and is held by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This album containing 116 sheets of drawings came into the possession of the Rijksmuseum in 1996. Its value outweighs the poor quality of some of the drawings in that it captures scenes from within a city which was being transformed from its Portuguese outlook to the Dutch; thus some scenes depict street views of Portuguese Colombo- a phenomena never before captured in drawing except for textual descriptions.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under architects & architecture, authoritarian regimes, colonisation schemes, cultural transmission, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, military strategy, politIcal discourse, population, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, religiosity, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

Amplifying Antiquity within the Galle Fort with Imaginative Restoration

Smrti Daniel, in Sunday Times, 12 July 2020, with this title “Fortifying Galle Fort. A massive project aims to restore the defence works from our colonial past”

As restrictions around the pandemic eased this month, a team of workers returned to Galle Fort. They are in the middle of a two-year restoration project that has them clambering over the great bastions, excavating echoing underground chambers and clearing out an ancient drainage system – all part of an ambitious effort to restore this UNESCO World Heritage Site to its full glory.

Conservation of the gun platforms of the Neptune Bastion

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, tourism, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Portuguese Imprints in Sri Lankan Culture

 Dr Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, in The Island April 25, 2020, Tracing the Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka”

Way back in 1998, I theorised on the extent of Lusitanisation in Sri Lanka, in my paper entitled The Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka, published in Lusotopie (Journal of Sorbonne, Paris), de Silva Jayasuriya (2000):  “The Portuguese era marked the end of medieval Sri Lanka and the beginning of modern Sri Lanka. It changed the island’s orientation away from India and gave it a unique identity moulded by almost 450 years of Western influence due to the presence of three successive European powers: the Portuguese (1505-1658), the Dutch (1658-1796) and the British (1796-1948). The Portuguese cultural imprint can be analyzed by examining: (a) those who claim Portuguese descent (the Portuguese Burghers), (b) those who do not claim Portuguese descent but who follow the Roman Catholic faith, (c) those who are neither of Portuguese descent nor follow the Catholic faith but nevertheless underwent a sociocultural transformation. Language is a necessary element in the set of culture. The other elements are subjective and could include religion, food, dress, music and dance.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, world events & processes

The Aditye Wansaya presenting the Lindamulage Clan

Johnny De Silva, presenting a typed copy of the English translation of an ola book, The Aditiya Wansaya,  carried out by Pandit Yatinuwara Indaratne Thero for my granduncle Mr Charles de Silva

THE ADITYE DYNASTY (CLAN) OR  ADITYE WANSAYA

The son of Aditiya was known as Aditye i.e. the sun. The lineage that originates from the sun is known as the Solar  dynasty, or ‘Surya Wansaya’.  The ‘Aditye Wansaya’ is the Solar Dynasty in another name; and those that belong to this clan are of Royal descent. The foremost of the Royal clans in ancient India was the Aditye Clan. The ‘Surya Wansaya’ ‘Dinakan Wansaya’ are other names used for this clan.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under caste issues, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, sri lankan society, world events & processes

The Portuguese Burghers in Ceilao, Ceylon and Sri Lanka

Earl Barthelot, in Ceylon Digest, https://www.ceylondigest.com/the-portuguese-burghers-of-sri-lanka/ 

Sri Lanka is well known for its diversity with over 22 numerically small communities and majority communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Burgher community is one of the numerically small communities. Large proportions of the Burghers do live in the Batticaloa District and a small proportion live both in Trincomalee and Ampara District. At the same time there are Portuguese Burghers living in all parts of the country in small numbers.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, tolerance, travelogue, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

“Goyi-Lansi”: Badinage founded on Class Differentiation laced with Ethnicity and Prejudice

Michael Roberts

This article is inspired by Fabian Schokman of Moratuwa whose questioning comment led to a brief exchange involving Eardley Lieversz and myself. I will place these exchanges first before proceeding to address the context and implications of the article on “Goyigama Lansiyās” written by a retired Sinhala police officer of senor rank.

This essay was obviously penned in light-hearted spirit. But, in conveying ethnographic tales of past times in genial tones, the account reveals questionable ‘seams,’ i.e. strands, within the socio-political order. Readers are advised to absorb the essay “The Goyigama Lansiyaas”[1] as an initial measure …. before proceeding to the exchanges and the arguments below.

the 2nd Pic may well be British ladies and gents in a Whites only club

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, British colonialism, caste issues, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, Sri Lankan scoiety, taking the piss, tolerance, unusual people, world events & processes

The VVT Thonies and Their Mastery of the Oceans Past

Somasiri Devendra, in Island, 13 July 2019, with this title “VVT, Tahiti, and the ghost of the Bounty. The ship from Valvettithurai which sailed the seven seas” and this dedication “Dedicated to the late Mr. Kumaraswamy of Oxonia Institute, Colombo, proud son of Valvettithurai, with whom I was to co-author a work on our northern nautical culture. On him, be Peace.”

article_imageA traditional Thoni showing the backward-coiling Surul and nailed-on occulus.

The story begins …

In 1937 an adventurous ‘Yankee’ sailed a small yacht round the world – the smallest to do so, at that time – stopping awhile in Ceylon. After many adventures, he returned to Ceylon in search of a Jaffna-built ship whose elegant lines had caught his eye. He found her, bought and refitted her in Colombo and sailed for Boston, with an all-Jaffna crew. Boston was as overwhelmed by the vision of this ‘ghost’ of the legendary Bounty, as by its dusky crew and of the voyage itself. But a couple of months later she was sailed again, this time with an all-American delivery crew, to Tahiti. And then, like the Bounty, she disappears.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under arab regimes, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, economic processes, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, unusual people, world events & processes

Galle Fort Renovations and Embellishments

Sunday Times News Item, 7 July 2019, where the title is “Stage II of Galle Fort development project under way”

Work on Stage II of the proposed ‘Galle Fort Development Project’, has commenced. The project funded by the World Bank is estimated to cost rupees 217 million. The project will be jointly handled by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, the Department of Archaeology, the Galle Heritage Foundation and the Sea Conservation Department. Stage I of the project which commenced in January this year is nearing completion.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, tourism, world events & processes

A Grand Felicitation in Print for KD Paranavitana

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes