It is likely that the paravas (also known as Bharathas in Sri Lanka to indicate their Indian origin) were working as fishermen and mercenaries in South India and the north western coast of Sri Lanka well before the sixteenth century. Tradition links them to the evolution of the catamaran (a small craft with two hulls) and with a major role in pearl fishing in the Gulf of Mannar. They were also proficient in chank (turbinella pyrum) fishing: chanks being seashells that were used to make ornaments and drinking vessels. The coming of the Portuguese to the region in the sixteenth century provides us many Portuguese records that illuminate the history and seafaring skills of this community.. Historian Jorge Manuel Flores, for example, quotes a mid-sixteenth century Portuguese document which records thanks to a parava convert named Duarte de Miranda for assistance in navigating the seas off South India.
Some of the most colourful surnames that once stood as a beacon to help distinguish the ethnic backgrounds of locals have now gone into abeyance. The ethnographers are of the opinion that the frequent intermarriages with members of the prominent ethnic groups and the death of male line descendants have gradually airbrushed the identities of many minorities. However, it is unmistakably clear that many of the Lankan patronymics and surnames have European roots. The Ceylon Burgher Community is the finest exponent of this European Onomatology in Sri Lanka, as the members of the community carry some of the World’s rarest surnames, several of which at present verge on extinction. The ancestors of the Dutch Burghers were not necessarily Dutch by ethnic origin as the Dutch East India Company installed hundreds of mercenaries from all parts of Europe who later reached the shores of Lanka to strengthen the Dutch garrisons on the Island.
The ‘discovery’ of the Lorenz Cabinet in the Royal Asiatic Society in the 1980s led me to combine with Percy Colin-Thome and Ismeth Raheem in working up this material into a plan envisaging a set of books (four volumes). The first in this projected series was drafted by me and came out in 1989 courtesy of Sarvodaya Publishing Services (within the limitations of book production in that period). This book, People Inbetween, has been out of print for quite a while.
A Bibliography of Published/Unpublished Work by Sandadas Coperahewa (1923 – 2022)
Books: * යුර ෝපා කලාරේ ලුහුඬු ඉතිහාසරේ සිංහල රපරැළිය හා යුර ෝපා කලා රහළ කලා සසදුව (1958)
[The Sinhala Translation of R.H. Wilenkski’s A Miniature History of European Art and a Comparative Study of European and Sinhalese Art] * රෙරේ හිමි සෙරුව ( 1991) …. [A commemorative poem on Ven. Pamburana Metteyya Thera of Vajirarama] * ජගේ කලාකරු කතන්ද – 1 : රලරයෝනාරදෝ දා වින්ි (1992) * ජගේ කලාකරු කතන්ද – 2 : ෙයිකල් ඇන්ිරලෝ ( 1997) * ජගේ කලාකරු කතන්ද – 3 : ෆාරයල් ( 1998) …………………. A series of books on World famous artists – Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael
Dr Hugo Cardoso, a linguist from the University of Lisbon and his team who have been researching this historical language spoken in the East of Sri Lanka have now taken to social media to preserve this fast fading heritage.
Uditha Devapriya, reviewing Gananath Obeyesekere’s new book The Many Faces of the Kandyan Kingdom(1591-1765) Colombo, Perera-Hussein, 2020, 200 pp., Rs. 1,200 ... with ‘arbitrary’ highlighting imposed by the Editor, Thuppahi
In 1602, the year of the Dutch East India Company’s founding, Joris van Spilbergen reached the shores of Sri Lanka after setting sail from the seaport of Veere in Holland a year earlier. Tasked with opening up trade negotiations with the King of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya, Spilbergen bore with him a letter from the Prince of Orange, acknowledging their willingness to counter the Portuguese. Not for one moment underestimating the Portuguese presence in the island, though, they disembarked at Batticaloa, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Kandyan Court. They anchored off the coast on May 31.
Sophie Roel in conversation with Razeen Sally on “The best books on Sri Lanka recommended by Razeen Sally”
Many visitors to Sri Lanka have been beguiled by its charms, from its hill towns to its beaches, its ancient temples to its friendly people. And yet, for a quarter of a century until 2009, it was torn apart by a brutal civil war. Here, Sri Lanka-born political economist Razeen Sally, author of Return to Sri Lanka: Travels in a Paradoxical Land, recommends the best books to get a better understanding of Sri Lanka and the complexities that make the country so fascinating to visit and read about.
Item in The Daily Financial Times, 19 March 2022, bearing this title “UDA completes Rs. 210 m beautification of Galle Fort area”
The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing has carried out renovations in Galle Fort on the instruction of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is the minister in charge of the subject. The Urban Development Authority which carried out the renovations has done so in a manner that would preserve the antiquities and heritage of Galle Fort. This was done with the assistance of the Department of Archaeology and the Galle Heritage Foundation.
Computer generated 3D illustration with a Portuguese Caravel of the Fifteenth Century
Abstract of the article below: Two arrival stories in the long span of the island’s history will provide the foundations for reflections on history-making in the modern era. Episode One will pursue my own intellectual trail in the 1980s in fashioning an interpretation of the story of the arrival of the Portuguese and my subsequent confrontations in print with KM de Silva on this issue in the 1990s. Episode Two essays an interpretation of the advent of Vijaya retailed in the Pali & Sinhala chronicles as a genesis story of the same order as the tale of Adam and Eve: contending that it is not a tale with any factual basis, but one that conveys a mythic truth for its authors and ‘faithful’ listeners. It is, thus, a morality-tale about the magical implantation of civilised culture and state-forms within the island. This interpretation, however, has shortcomings and will benefit from the correctives imposed by Godfrey Gunatilleke’s exposition of the multi-faceted symbolism associated with this myth.
Juliet Coombe, in Daily News, 28 January 2022, where the title reads thus“Santa Cruz – The Portuguese Black Fort Of Galle”
Walking along the ancient walls it is easy to distinguish the black smoke covered walls of the Portuguese from the lower walls with the cannon positions built by the Dutch and later added to by the English.
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.