Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and
by James Emerson Tennent
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Illustrated by Maps, Plans and Drawings

Fourth Edition, Thoroughly Revised









I. General Aspect. Singular beauty of the island Its ancient renown in consequence Fable of its "perfumed winds" (note) Character of the scenery II. Geographical Position Ancient views regarding it amongst the Hindus,—"the Meridian of Lanka" Buddhist traditions of former submersions (note) Errors as to the dimensions of Ceylon Opinions of Onesicritus, Eratosthenes, Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Agathemerus 8, The Arabian geographers Sumatra supposed to be Ceylon (note) True latitude and longitude General Eraser's map of Ceylon (note) Geological formation Adam's Bridge Error of supposing Ceylon to be a detached fragment of India III. The Mountain System Remarkable hills, Mihintala and Sigiri Little evidence of volcanic action Rocks, gneiss Rock temples Laterite or "Cabook" Ancient name Tamba-panni (note) Coral formation Extraordinary wells Darwin's theory of coral wells examined (note) The soil of Ceylon generally poor "Patenas," their phenomena obscure Rice lands between the hills Soil of the plains, "Talawas" IV. Metals.—Tin Gold, nickel, cobalt Quicksilver (note) Iron V. Minerals.—Anthracite, plumbago, kaolin, nitre caves List of Ceylon minerals (note) VI. Gems, ancient fame of Rose-coloured quartz (note) Mode of searching for gems Rubies Sapphire, topaz, garnet, and cinnamon stone, cat's-eye, amethyst, moonstone 37, Diamond not found in Ceylon (note) Gem-finders and lapidaries VII. Rivers.—Their character The Mahawelli-ganga Table of the rivers VIII. Singular coast formation, and its causes The currents and their influence Word "Gobb" explained (note) Vegetation of the sand formations Their suitability for the coconut IX. Harbours.—Galle and Trincomalie Tides Red infusoria Population of Ceylon



Uniformity of temperature Brilliancy of foliage Colombo.—January—long shore wind February—cold nights (note) March, April May—S.W. monsoon Aspect of the country before it Lightning Rain, its violence June July and August, September, October, November. N.E. monsoon December Annual quantity of rain in Ceylon and Hindustan (note) Opposite climates of the same mountain Climate of Galle Kandy and its climate Mists and hail Climate of Trincomalie (text and note) Jaffna and its climate Waterspouts Anthelia Buddha rays Ceylon as a sanatarium.—Neuera-ellia Health Malaria Food and wine 76, Effects of the climate of Ceylon on disease Precautions for health



The Flora of Ceylon imperfectly known Vegetation similar to that of India and the Eastern Archipelago Trees of the sea-borde.—Mangroves—Screw-pines, Sonneratia The Northern Plains.—Euphorbiae Cassia.—Mustard-tree of Scripture Western coast.—Luxurious vegetation Eastern coast Pitcher plant.—Orchids Vines Botany of the Mountains.—Iron-wood, Bamboo, European fruit-trees Tea-plant—RhododendronMickelia Rapid disappearance of dead trees in the forests Trees with natural buttresses Flowering Trees.—Coral tree The Murutu—Imbul—Cotton tree—Champac The Upas Tree—Poisons of Ceylon The Banyan The Sacred Bo-tree The India Rubber-tree—The Snake-tree Kumbuk-tree: lime in its bark Curious Seeds.—The Dorian, Sterculia foetida The Sea Pomegranate Strychnos, curious belief as to its poison Euphorbia—The Cow-tree, error regarding (note) Climbing plants, Epiphytes, and flowering creepers Orchids—Brilliant terrestrial orchid, the Wanna-raja.—Square-stemmed Vine Gigantic climbing Plants Enormous bean Bonduc seeds.—Ratans—Ratan bridges Thorny Trees.—Raised as a natural fortification by the Kandyans The buffalo thorn, Acacia tomentosa Palms Coco-nut—Talipat Palmyra Jaggery Palm—Arcea Palm Betel-chewing, its theory and uses Pingos Timber Trees Jakwood—Del—Teak Suria Cabinet Woods.—Satin-wood—Ebony—Cadooberia Calamander, its rarity and beauty Tamarind Fruit-trees Remarkable power of trees to generate cold and keep their fruit chill Aquatic Plants—Lotus, red and blue Desmanthus natans, an aquatic sensitive plant





Neglect of Zoology in Ceylon Monkeys Wanderoo Error regarding the Silenus Veter (note) Presbytes Cephalopterus P. Ursinus in the Hills P. Thersites in the Wanny P. Priamus, Jaffna and Trincomalie No dead monkey ever found Loris Bats Flying fox Horse-shoe bat Carnivora.—Bears Their ferocity

Singhalese belief in the efficacy of charms (note) Leopards Curious belief Anecdotes of leopards Palm-cat Civet Dogs Jackal The horn of the jackal Mungoos Its fights with serpents Theory of its antidote Squirrels Flying squirrel Tree rat Story of a rat and a snake Coffee rat Bandicoot Porcupine Pengolin Ruminantia.—The Gaur Oxen Humped cattle Encounter of a cow and a leopard Buffaloes Sporting buffaloes Peculiar structure of the hoof Deer Meminna Elephants Whales General view of the mammalia of Ceylon List of Ceylon mammalia Curious parasite of the bat (note)



Their numbers Songsters Hornbills, the "bird with two heads" Pea fowl Sea birds, their number I. Accipitres.—Eagles Falcons and hawks Owls—the devil bird II. Passeres.—Swallows Kingfishers—sunbirds Bul-bul—tailor bird—and weaver Crows, anecdotes of III. Scansores.—Parroquets IV. Columbiae.—Pigeons V. Gallinae.—Jungle-fowl VI. Grallae.—Ibis, stork, &c. VII. Anseres.—Flamingoes Pelicans Game.—Partridges, &c.176 List of Ceylon birds List of birds peculiar to Ceylon



Lizards.—Iguana Kabragoya, barbarous custom in preparing the cobra-tel poison (note) The green calotes Chameleon Ceratophora Geckoes,—their power of reproducing limbs 185, Crocodiles Their power of burying themselves in the mud Tortoises—Curious parasite Land tortoises Edible turtle Huge Indian tortoises (note) Hawk's-bill turtle, barbarous mode of stripping it of the tortoise-shell Serpents.—Venomous species rare Cobra de capello Instance of land snakes found at sea Tame snakes (note) Singular tradition regarding the cobra de capello Uropeltidae.—New species discovered in Ceylon Buddhist veneration for the cobra de capello Anecdotes of snakes The Python Water snakes Snake stones Analysis of one Caecilia Large frogs Tree frogs List of Ceylon reptiles



Ichthyology of Ceylon, little known Fish for table, seir fish Sardines, poisonous? Sharks Saw-fish Fish of brilliant colours Curious fish described by AElian (note) Fresh-water fish, little known,—not much eaten Fresh-water fish in Colombo Lake Immense profusion of fish in the rivers and lakes Their re-appearance after rain Mode of fishing in the ponds Showers of fish Conjecture that the ova are preserved, not tenable Fish moving on dry land Instances in Guiana (note) Perca Scandens, ascends trees Doubts as to the story of Daldorf Fishes burying themselves during the dry season The protopterus of the Gambia Instances in the fish of the Nile Instances in the fish of South America Living fish dug out of the ground in the dry tanks in Ceylon Other animals that so bury themselves, Melaniae, Ampullariae, &c. The animals that so bury themselves in India (note) Analogous case of (note) Theory of aestivation and hybernation Fish in hot-water in Ceylon List of Ceylon fishes Instances of fishes failing from the clouds Overland migration of fishes known to the Greeks and Romans Note on Ceylon fishes by Professor Huxley Comparative note by Dr. Gray, Brit. Mus.231



I. Conchology—General character of Ceylon shells Confusion regarding them in scientific works and collections List of Ceylon shells II. Radiata.—Star fish Sea slugs Parasitic worms Planaria III. Acalephae, abundant Corals little known



Profusion of insects in Ceylon Imperfect knowledge of I. Coleoptera.—Beetles Scavenger beetles Coco-nut beetles Tortoise beetles II. Orthoptera.—Mantis and leaf-insects Stick-insects III. Neuroptera—Dragon flies Ant-lion White ants Anecdotes of their instinct and ravages (text and note) V. Hymenoptera.—Mason Wasps Wasps Bees Carpenter Bee Ants Burrowing ants VI. Lepidoptera.—Butterflies Sylph Lycaenidae Moths Silk worms (text and note) Wood-carrying Moths Pterophorus VII. Homoptera Cicada VIII. Hemiptera Bugs IX. Aphaniptera X. Diptera.—Mosquitoes General character of Ceylon insects List of insects in Ceylon



Spiders Strange nests of the wood spiders Olios Taprobanius Mygale fasciata Ticks Mites.—Trombidium tinctorum Myriapods.—Centipedes Cermatia Scolopendra crassa S. pollipes Millipeds—Iulus Crustacea Calling crabs Land crabs Painted crabs Paddling crabs Annelidae, Leeches.—The land leech Medical leech Cattle leech List of Articulata, &c.307





Ceylon formerly thought to have no authentic history Researches of Turnour Biographical sketch of Turnour (note) The Mahawanso Recovery of the "tika" on the Mahawanso Outline of the Mahawanso Turnour's epitome of Singhalese history Historical proofs of the Mahawanso Identity of Sandracottus and Chandragupta Ancient map of Ceylon (note) List of Ceylon sovereigns



Singhalese histories all illustrative of Buddhism A Buddha Gotama Buddha, his history Amazing prevalence of his religion (note) His three visits to Ceylon Inhabitants of the island at that time supposed to be of Malayan type Legend of their Chinese origin Probably identical with the aborigines of the Dekkan Common basis of their language Characteristics of vernacular Singhalese State of the aborigines before Wijayo's invasion Story of Wijayo The natives of Ceylon described as Yakkos and Nagas Traces of serpent-worship in Ceylon Coincidence of the Mahawanso with the Odyssey (note)



Early commerce of Ceylon described by the Chinese Wijayo as a colonizer His treatment of the native population B.C. 505. His death and successors A number of petty kingdoms formed Ceylon divided into three districts: Pihiti, Rohuna, and Maya The village system established Agriculture introduced Irrigation imported from India The first tank constructed, B.C. 504 (note) Rapid progress of the island Toleration of Wijayo and his followers Establishment of Buddhism, 307 B.C. Preaching of Mahindo Planting of the sacred Bo-tree



Buddhist architecture introduced in Ceylon The first dagobas built Their mode of construction and vast dimensions The earliest Buddhist temples Images and statues a later innovation First residences of the priesthood The formation of monasteries and wiharas The first wihara built Form of the modern wiharas Inconvenient numbers of the Buddhist priesthood Originally fed by the kings and the people Caste annulled in the case of priests The priestly robe and its peculiarities



Progress of civilisation The new settlers agriculturists Malabars enlisted as soldiers and seamen B.C. 237. The revolt of Sena and Gutika B.C. 205. Usurpation of Elala His character and renown The victory of Dutugaimunu Progress of the south of the island Building of the great Ruanwelle Dagoba Building of the Brazen Palace Its vicissitudes and ruins Death and character of Dutugaimunu



The Mahawanse or Great Dynasty The Suluwanse or Inferior Dynasty Services rendered by the Great Dynasty Frequent usurpations and the cause Disputed successions Rising influence of the priesthood B.C. 104. Their first endowment with land Rapid increase of the temple estates Their possessions and their vow of poverty reconciled Acquire the compulsory labour of temple-tenants Impulse thus given to cultivation And to the construction of enormous tanks Tanks conferred on the temples The great tank of Minery formed, A.D. 272 Subserviency of the kings to the priesthood Large possessions of the temples at the present day Cultivation of flowers for the temples Their singular profusion Fruit trees planted by the Buddhist sovereigns Edicts of Asoca



Aborigines forced to labour for the new settlers Immensity of the structures erected by them Slow amalgamation of the natives with the strangers The worship of snakes and demons continued Treatment of the aborigines by the kings Their formal disqualification for high office Their rebellions They retire into the mountains and forests Their singular habits of seclusion Traces of their customs at the present day



B.C. 104 Walagam-bahu I His wars with the Malabars The South of Ceylon free from Malabar invasion The Buddhist doctrines first formed into books The formation of rock-temples Apostacy of Chora Naga Ceylon governed by queens Schisms in religion Buddhism tolerant of heresy but intolerant of schism Illustrations of Buddhist toleration Tolerance enjoined by Asoca The Wytulian heresy Corruption of Buddhism by the impurities of Brahnmanism A.D. 275. Recantation and repentance of King Maha Sen End of the Solar race State of Ceylon at that period Prosperity of the North Description of Anarajapoora in the fourth century Its municipal organisation Its palaces and temples Popular error as to the area of the city (note) Multitudes of the priesthood described by Fa Hian



Sovereigns of the Lower Dynasty, a feeble race Kings who were sculptors, physicians, and poets Earliest notice of Foreign Embassies to Rome and to China Notices of Ceylon by Chinese Historians Fa Hian visits Ceylon A.D. 413 Anecdote related by Fa Hian (note) History of "the Sacred Tooth" Murder of the king Dhatu Sena, A.D. 459 Infamous conduct of his son The fortified rock Sigiri



Origin of the Malabar invaders of Ceylon The ancient Indian kingdom of Pandya Malabar mercenaries enlisted in Ceylon B.C. 237. Revolt of Sena and Gutika B.C. 205. Usurpation of Elala B.C. 103. Second Malabar invasion A.D. 110. Third Malabar invasion Jewish evidence of Malabar conquest (note)396 A.D. 433. Fourth Malabar invasion The influence of the Malabars firmly established Distress of the Singhalese in the 7th century, as described by Hiouen Thsang A.D. 642. Anarajapoora deserted, and Pollanarrua built The Malabars did nothing to improve the island A.D. 840. A fresh Malabar invasion The Singhalese seek to conciliate them by alliances A.D. 990. Another Malabar invasion Extreme misery of the island A.D. 1023. The Malabars seize Pollanarrua and occupy the entire north of the island



A.D. 1071. Recovery of the island from the Malabars Wijayo Bahu I. expels the Malabars Birth of the Prince Prakrama His character and renown Immense public works constructed by him Restores the order of the Buddhist priesthood Intercourse between Siam and Ceylon Temples and sacred edifices built by Prakrama The Gal-Wihara at Pollanarrua Ruins of Pollanarrua Extraordinary extent of his works for irrigation Foreign wars of Prakrama His conquests in India The death of Prakrama Bahu




Prakrama Baku, the last powerful king Anarchy follows on his decease A.D. 1197. The Queen Leela-Wattee A.D. 1211. Return of the Malabar invaders The Malabars establish themselves at Jaffna Early history of Jaffna A.D. 1235. The new capital at Dambedenia Extending ruin of Ceylon Kandy founded as a new capital Successive removals of the seat of Government to Yapahoo, Kornegalle, Gampola, Kandy, and Cotta Ascendancy of the Malabars A.D. 1410. The King of Ceylon carried captive to China Ceylon tributary to China Arrival of the Portuguese in Ceylon





Population encouraged by the fertility of Ceylon Evidence of its former extent in the ruins of the tanks and canals Means by which the population was preserved Causes of its dispersion—the ruin of the tanks Domestic life similar to that of the Hindus Respect shown to females Caste perpetuated in defiance of religious prohibition Particulars in which caste in Ceylon differs from caste in India Slavery, borrowed from Hindustan Compulsory labour or Raja-kariya Mode of enforcing it



Agriculture unknown before the arrival of Wijayo Rice was imported into Ceylon in the second century B.C. The practice of irrigation due to the Hindu kings Who taught the science of irrigation to the Singhalese (note) The first tank constructed B.C. 504 Gardens and fruit-trees first planted Value of artificial irrigation in the north of Ceylon In the south of the island the rains sustain cultivation Two harvests in the year in the south of the island In the north, where rains are uncertain, tanks indispensable Irrigation the occupation of kings The municipal village-system of cultivation "Assoedamising" of rice lands in the mountains Temple villages and their tenure Farm-stock buffaloes and cows A Singhalese garden described Coco-nut palm rarely mentioned in early writings Doubt whether it be indigenous to Ceylon The Mango and other fruits Rice and curry mentioned in the second century B.C. Animal food used by the early Singhalese Betel, antiquity of the custom of chewing it Intoxicating liquors known at an early period



Trade entirely in the hands of strangers Native shipping unconnected with commerce Same indifference to trade prevails at this day Singhalese boats all copied from foreign models All sewn together and without iron Romance of the "Loadstone Island" The legend believed by Greeks and the Chinese Vessels with two prows mentioned by Strabo Foreign trade spoken of B.C. 204 Internal traffic in the ancient city of Ceylon Merchants traversing the island Early exports from Ceylon,—gems, pearls, &c. The imports, chiefly manufactures Horses and carriages imported from India Cloth, silk, &c., brought from Persia Kashmir, intercourse with Edrisi's account of Ceylon trade in the twelfth century



Silk not produced in Ceylon Coir and cordage Dress; unshaped robes Manual and Mechanical Arts—Weaving Priest's robes spun, woven, and dyed in a day Peculiar mode of cutting out a priest's robe Bleaching and dyeing Earliest artisans, immigrants Handicrafts looked down on Pottery Glass Glass mirrors Leather Wood carving Chemical Arts—Sugar Mineral paints



Early knowledge of the use of iron Steel Copper and its uses Bells, bronze, lead Gold and silver Plate and silver ware Red coral found at Galle (note) Jewelry and mounted gems Gilding.—Coin Coins mentioned in the Mahawanso Meaning of the term "massa" (note) Coins of Lokiswaira General device of Singhalese coins Indian coinage of Prakrama Bahu Fish-hook money



Engineering taught by the Brahmans Rude methods of labour Military engineering unknown Early attempts at fortification Fortified rock of Sigiri Forests, their real security Thorns planted as defences Bridges and ferries Method of tying cut stone in forming tanks Tank sluices Defective construction of these reservoirs The art of engineering lost The "Giants' Tank" a failure An aqueduct formed, A.D. 66



Music, its early cultivation Harsh character of Singhalese music Tom-toms, their variety and antiquity Singhalese gamut Painting.—Imagination discouraged Similarity of Singhalese to Egyptian art Rigid rules for religious design Similar trammels on art in Modern Greece (note) And in Italy in the 15th century (n.) Celebrated Singhalese painters Sculpture.—Statues of Buddha Built statues Painted statues Statues formed of gems Ivory and sandal-wood carved Architecture, its ruins exclusively religious Domestic architecture mean at all times Stone quarried by wedges Immense slabs thus prepared Columns at Anarajapoora Materials for building Mode of constructing a dagoba Enormous dimensions of these structures Monasteries and wiharas Palaces Carvings in stone Ubiquity of the honours shown to goose Delicate outline of Singhalese carvings Temples and their decorations Cave temples of Ceylon The Alu-wihara Moulding in plaster Claim of the Singhalese to the invention of oil painting Lacquer ware of the present day Honey-suckle ornament



Ancient cities and their organisation Public buildings, hospitals, shops Anarajapoora, as it appeared in 7th century The description of it by Fa Hian Carriages and Horses Horses imported from Persia Furniture of the houses Form of Government.—Revenue The Army and Navy Mode of recruiting Arms.—Bows Singular mode of drawing the bow with the foot (note) Civil Justice



Education and schools Logic Astronomy and astrology Medicine and surgery King Buddha-dasa a physician Botany Geometry Lightning conductors Notice of a remarkable passage in the Mahawanso



The Pali language The temples the depositaries of learning Historiographers employed by the kings Ola books, how prepared A stile, and the mode of writing Books on plates of metal (note) Differences between Elu and Singhalese Pali works Grammar Hardy's list of Singhalese books (note) Pali books all written in verse The Pittakas The Jatakas—resemble the Talmud Pali literature generally The Milinda-prasna Pali historical books and their character The Mahawanso Scriptural coincidences in Pali books (note) Sanskrit works: Principally on science and medicine Elu and Singhalese works: Low tone of the popular literature Chiefly ballads and metrical essays Exempt from licentiousness Sacred poems in honour of Hindu gods General literature of the people



Buddhism as it exists in Ceylon Which was the more ancient, Brahmanism or Buddhism Various authorities (note) Buddhism, its extreme antiquity Its prodigious influence Sought to be identified with the Druids (note) Buddhism an agent of civilisation Its features in Ceylon The various forms elsewhere Points that distinguish it from Brahmanism Buddhist theory of human perfection Its treatment of caste Its respect for other religions Anecdote, illustrative of (note) Its cosmogony Its doctrine of "necessity" Transmigration Illustration from Lucan (note) The priesthood and its attributes Buddhist morals Prohibition to take life Form of worship Brahmanical corruptions Failure of Buddhism as a sustaining faith Its moral influence over the people Demon-worship Trees dedicated to demons (note) Devil priests and their orgies Ascendency of these superstitions Buddhism as an obstacle to Christianity Difficulties presented by the morals of Buddhism Prohibition against taking away life (note)





First heard of by the companions of Alexander the Great Various ancient names of Ceylon (note) Early doubts whether it was an island or a continent Mentioned by Aristotle Alleged mention of Ceylon in the Samaritan Pentateuch (note) Onesicritus's account Megasthenes' description AElian's account borrowed from Megasthenes (note) Ceylon known to the Phoenicians and to the Egyptians (note) Hippalus discovers the monsoons Effect of this discovery on Indian trade Pliny's account of Ceylon Story of Jambulus by Diodoros Siculus (note) Embassy from Ceylon to Claudius Narrative of Rachias, and its explanation (note) Lake Megisba, a tank Early intercourse with China The Veddahs described by Pliny Interval between Pliny and Ptolemy Ptolemy's account of Ceylon Explanation of his errors Ptolemy discriminates bays from estuaries (note) v9 Identification of Ptolemy's names His map His sources of information Agathemerus, Marcianus of Heraclea Cosmas Indicopleustes Palladius—St. Ambrosius (note) State of Ceylon when Cosmas wrote Its commerce at that period In the hands of Arabs and Persians v4 Ceylon as described by Cosmas Story of his informant Sopater Translation of Cosmas The gems and other productions of Ceylon—"a gaou" (note) Meaning of the term "Hyacinth" (note) The great ruby of Ceylon, its history traced (note) Cosmas corroborated by the Peripius Horses imported from Persia Export of elephants Note on Sanchoniathon



Absurd errors of the Hindus regarding Ceylon Their dread of Ceylon as the abode of demons Rise of the Mahometan power Persians and Arabs trade to India Story in Beladory of the first invasion of India by the Mahometans (text and note) Character of the Arabian geographers Their superiority over the Greeks Greek Paradoxical literature A.D. 851. The two Mahometans Their account of Ceylon Adam's Peak Obsequies of a king Councils on religion and history Toleration Carmathic monument at Colombo (note) Galle, the seat of ancient trade Claim of Mantotte disproved Greek fire (note) "Kalah" is Galle The Maharaja of Zabedj help possession of Galle Evidence of this in the Garsharsp-Namah Derivation of "Galle" (text and note) Aversion of the Singhalese to commerce Identification of the modern Veddahs with the ancient Singhalese Their singular habits, as described by Robert Knox, Ribeyro, and Valentyn By Albyrouni By Palladius By Fa Hian By the Chinese writers (note) By Pliny For this reason the coast only known to strangers Arabian authors who describe Ceylon Albateny and Massoudi Tabari (note) Sinbad the Sailor Edrisi Kazwini Cinnamon, no mention of Was cinnamon a native of Ceylon? No mention by Singhalese authors No mention of by Latin writers The Regio Cinnamomifera was in Africa (note) No mention by Arabs or Persians First noticed in Ceylon by Ibn Batuta By Nicola di Conti (note) Ibn Batuta describes Ceylon His Travels



Early Chinese trade with Ceylon Early Chinese travellers in India Chinese translations of M.S. Julien List of Chinese authors relating to Ceylon (note) Their errors as to its form and site Their account of Adam's Peak and its gems Chinese names for Ceylon Curious habit of its traders They describe the two races, Tamils and Singhalese Origin of the cotton "Comboy" Costume of Ceylon Early commerce Works for irrigation noticed Island of Junk-Ceylon Galle resorted to by Chinese ships Vegetable productions Elephants, ivory, and jewels Skill of Singhalese goldsmiths and statuaries Pearls and gems sent to China No mention of cinnamon Chinese account of Buddhism in Ceylon Monasteries for priests first founded in Ceylon Cities of Ceylon in the sixth century Patriotism of Singhalese kings Domestic manners of the Singhalese Embassies from China to Ceylon Chinese travels prior to the sixth century Fa Hian's travels in sixth century First embassy from Ceylon to China, A.D. 405 Narrative of the image which it bore (note) Ceylon tributary to China in sixth century Hiouen-Thsang describes Ceylon in the seventh century (note) Events in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries King of Ceylon carried captive to China, A.D. 1405 Last embassy to China, A.D. 1459 Traces of the Chinese in Ceylon Evidences of their presence found by the Portuguese Modern Chinese account of Ceylon (note)



The Moors of Ceylon Their origin The early Mahometans in India Arabians anciently settled in Ceylon Real descent of the modern "Moormen" Their occupation as traders, ancestral Their hostilities with the Portuguese They might have been rulers of Ceylon Indian trade prior to the route by the Cape The Genoese and Venetians in the East Rise of the Mongol empire Marco Polo, A.D. 1271 Visits Ceylon Friar Odoric, A.D. 1318 Jordan de Severac, A.D. 1323 (note) Giov. de Marignola, A.D. 1349 (note) Nicola di Conti, A.D. 1444 The first traveller who speaks of Cinnamon Jerome de Santo Stefano (note) Ludov. Barthema, A.D. 1506 Odoardo Barbosa, A.D. 1509 Andrea Corsali, A.D. 1515 (note) Cesar Frederic, A.D. 1563 Course of trade changed by the Cape route Irritation of the Venetians



"Gobbs" on the East Coast By ARROWSMITH "Gobbs" on the "West Coast ARROWSMITH Ceylon, according to the Sanskrit and Pali authors SIR J. EMERSON TENNENT Map of Ancient India LASSEN Position of Colombo, according to Ptolemy and Pliny SIR J. EMERSON TENNENT Ceylon, according to Ptolemy and Pliny SIR J. EMERSON TENNENT


Geological System By Currents in the N.E. Monsoon Currents in the N.W. Monsoon Diagram of Rain in India and in Ceylon DR. TEMPLETON Diagram of the Anthelia DR. TEMPLETON Plan of a Fish-corral Summit of a Dagoba, with Lightning apparatus


Marriage of the Fig-tree and the Palm By MR. A. NICHOLL Fig-tree on the Ruins of Pollanarrua MR. A. NICHOLL The "Snake-tree" MR. A. NICHOLL The Loris M.H. SYLVAT The Uropeltis grandis M.H. SYLVAT A Chironectes M.H. SYLVAT Method of Fishing in Pools From KNOX The Anabas of the dry Tanks By DR. TEMPLETON Eggs of the Leaf Insect M.H. SYLVAT Cermatia DR. TEMPLETON The Calling Crab Eyes and Teeth of the Land Leech DR. TEMPLETON Land Leeches DR. TEMPLETON Upper and under Surfaces of the Hirudo sanguisorba DR. TEMPLETON The Bo-tree at Anarajapoora MR. A. NICHOLL A Dagoba at Kandy From a Photograph Ruins of the Brazen Palace By MR. A. NICHOLL The Alu Wihara MR. A. NICHOLL The fortified Rock of Sigiri MR. A. NICHOLS Coin of Queen Leela-Wattee Coin showing the Trisula Hook-money Ancient and Modern Tom-tom Beaters From the JOINVILLE MSS. A Column from Anarajapoora Sacred Goose from the Burmese Standard Hansa, from the old Palace at Kandy Honeysuckle Ornament From FERGUSSON'S Handbook of Architecture Egyptian Yoke and Singhalese Pingo Veddah drawing the Bow with his Foot By MR. R. MACDOWALL Method of Writing with a Style MR. R. MACDOWALL The "Comboy," as worn by both Sexes MR. A. FAIRFIELD


The gratifying reception with which the following pages have been honoured by the public and the press, has in no degree lessened my consciousness, that in a work so extended in its scope, and comprehending such a multiplicity of facts, errors are nearly unavoidable both as to conclusions and detail. These, so far as I became aware of them, I have endeavoured to correct in the present, as well as in previous impressions.

But my principal reliance for the suggestion and supply both of amendments and omissions has been on the press and the public of Ceylon; whose familiarity with the topics discussed naturally renders them the most competent judges as to the mode in which they have been treated. My hope when the book was published in October last was, that before going again to press I should be in possession of such friendly communications and criticisms from the island, as would have enabled me to render the second edition much more valuable than the previous one. In this expectation I have been agreeably disappointed, the sale having been so rapid, as to require a fourth impression before it was possible to obtain from Ceylon judicious criticisms on the first. These in due time will doubtless arrive; and meanwhile, I have endeavoured, by careful revision, to render the whole as far as possible correct.



The call for a third edition on the same day that the second was announced for publication, and within less than two months from the appearance of the first, has furnished a gratifying assurance of the interest which the public are disposed to take in the subject of the present work.

Thus encouraged, I have felt it my duty to make several alterations in the present impression, amongst the most important of which is the insertion of a Chapter on the doctrines of Buddhism as it developes itself in Ceylon.[1] In the historical sections I had already given an account of its introduction by Mahindo, and of the establishments founded by successive sovereigns for its preservation and diffusion. To render the narrative complete, it was felt desirable to insert an abstract of the peculiar tenets of the Buddhists; and this want it has been my object to supply. The sketch, it will be borne in mind, is confined to the principal features of what has been denominated "Southern Buddhism" amongst the Singhalese; as distinguished from "Northern Buddhism" in Nepal, Thibet, and China.[2] The latter has been largely illustrated by the labours of Mr. B.H. HODGSON and the toilsome researches of M. CSOMA of Koerroes in Transylvania; and the minutest details of the doctrines and ceremonies of the former have been unfolded in the elaborate and comprehensive collections of Mr. SPENCE HARDY.[3] From materials discovered by these and other earnest inquirers, Buddhism in its general aspect has been ably delineated in the dissertations of BURNOUF[4] and SAINT HILAIRE[5], and in the commentaries of REMUSAT[6], STANISLAS JULIEN[7], FOUCAUX[8], LASSEN[9], and WEBER.[10] The portion thus added to the present edition has been to a great extent taken from a former work of mine on the local superstitions of Ceylon, and the "Introduction and Progress of Christianity" there; and as the section relating to Buddhism had the advantage, previous to publication, of being submitted to the Rev. Mr. GOGERLY, the most accomplished Pali scholar, as well as the most erudite student of Buddhistical literature in the island, I submit it with confidence as an accurate summary of the distinctive views of the Singhalese on the leading doctrines of their national faith.

[Footnote 1: See Part IV., c. xi.]

[Footnote 2: MAX MUELLER; History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 202.]

[Footnote 3: Eastern Monachism, an account of the origin, laws; discipline, sacred writings, mysterious rites, religious ceremonies, and present circumstances of the Order of Mendicants, founded by Gotoma Budha. 8vo. Lond. 1850; and A Manual of Buddhism in its Modern Development. 8vo. Lond. 1853.]

[Footnote 4: BURNOUF, Introduction a l'Histoire du Bouddhieme Indien. 4to. Paris. 1845; and translation of the Lotus de la bonne Loi.]

[Footnote 5: J. BARTHELEMY SAINT-HILAIRE Le Bouddha et sa Religion. 8vo. Paris. 1800.]

[Footnote 6: Introduction and Notes to the Foĕ Kouĕ Ki of FA HIAN.]

[Footnote 7: Life and travels of HIOUEN THSANG.]

[Footnote 8: Translation of Lalitavistara by M. PH. ED. FOUCAUX.]

[Footnote 9: Author of the Indische Alterthumskunde; &c.]

[Footnote 10: Author of the Indische Studien; &c.]

A writer in the Saturday Review[1], in alluding to the passage in which I have sought to establish the identity of the ancient Tarshish with the modern Point de Galle[2], admits the force of the coincidence adduced, that the Hebrew terms for "ivory, apes, and peacocks"[3] (the articles imported in the ships of Solomon) are identical with the Tamil names, by which these objects are known in Ceylon to the present day; and, to strengthen my argument on this point, he adds that, "these terms were so entirely foreign and alien from the common Hebrew language as to have driven the Ptolemaist authors of the Septuagint version into a blunder, by which the ivory, apes, and peacocks come out as 'hewn and carven stones.'" The circumstance adverted to had not escaped my notice; but I forebore to avail myself of it; for, although the fact is accurately stated by the reviewer, so far as regards the Vatican MS., in which the translators have slurred over the passage and converted "ibha, kapi, and tukeyim" into [Greek: "lithon toreuton kai peleketon"] (literally, "stones hammered and carved in relief"); still, in the other great MS. of the Septuagint, the Codex Alexandrinus, which is of equal antiquity, the passage is correctly rendered by "[Greek: odonton elephantinon kai pithekon kai taonon]." The editor of the Aldine edition[4] compromised the matter by inserting "the ivory and apes," and excluding the "peacocks," in order to introduce the Vatican reading of "stones."[5] I have not compared the Complutensian and other later versions.

[Footnote 1: Novemb. 19, 1859, p. 612.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. II. Pt. VII., c. i. p. 102.]

[Footnote 3: 1 Kings, x. 22.]

[Footnote 4: Venice, 1518.]

[Footnote 5: [Greek: Kai odonton elephantinon kai pithekon kai lithon]. [Greek: BASIA TRITE]. x. 22. It is to be observed, that Josephus appears to have been equally embarrassed by the unfamiliar term tukeyim for peacocks. He alludes to the voyages of Solomon's merchantmen to Tarshish, and says that they brought hack from thence gold and silver, much ivory, apes, and AEthiopians—thus substituting "slaves" for pea-fowl—"[Greek: kai polus elephas, Aithiopes te kai pithekoi]." Josephus also renders the word Tarshish by "[Greek: en te Tarsike legomene thalatte]," an expression which shows that he thought not of the Indian but the western Tarshish, situated in what Avienus calls the Fretum Tartessium, whence African slaves might have been expected to come.—Antiquit. Judaicae, l. viii. c. vii sec. 2.]

The Rev. Mr. CURETON, of the British Museum, who, at my request, collated the passage in the Chaldee and Syriac versions, assures me that in both, the terms in question bear the closest resemblance to the Tamil words found in the Hebrew; and that in each and all of them these are of foreign importation.


LONDON: November 28th, 1859.


The rapidity with which the first impression has been absorbed by the public, has so shortened the interval between its appearance and that of the present edition, that no sufficient time has been allowed for the discovery of errors or defects; and the work is re-issued almost as a corrected reprint.

In the interim, however, I have ascertained, that Ribeyro's "Historical Account of Ceylon," which it was heretofore supposed had never appeared in any other than the French version of the Abbe Le Grand, and in the English translation of the latter by Mr. Lee[1], was some years since printed for the first time in the original Portuguese, from the identical MS. presented by the author to Pedro II. in 1685. It was published in 1836 by the Academia Real das Sciencias of Lisbon, under the title of "Fatalidade Historica da Ilka de Ceilao;" and forms the Vth volume of the a "Collecao de Noticias para a Historia e Geograjia das Nacoes Ultramarinas" A fac-simile from a curious map of the island as it was then known to the Portuguese, has been included in the present edition.[2]

[Footnote 1: See Vol. II. Part vi. ch. i. p.5, note.]

[Footnote 2: Ibid. p. 6.]

Some difficulty having been expressed to me, in identifying the ancient names of places in India adverted to in the following pages; and mediaeval charts of that country being rare, a map has been inserted in the present edition[1], to supply the want complained of.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I. p. 330.]

The only other important change has been a considerable addition to the Index, which was felt to be essential for facilitating reference.

J E.T.


There is no island in the world, Great Britain itself not excepted, that has attracted the attention of authors in so many distant ages and so many different countries as Ceylon. There is no nation in ancient or modern times possessed of a language and a literature, the writers of which have not at some time made it their theme. Its aspect, its religion, its antiquities, and productions, have been described as well by the classic Greeks, as by those of the Lower Empire; by the Romans; by the writers of China, Burmah, India, and Kashmir; by the geographers of Arabia and Persia; by the mediaeval voyagers of Italy and France; by the annalists of Portugal and Spain; by the merchant adventurers of Holland, and by the travellers and topographers of Great Britain.

But amidst this wealth of materials as to the island, and its vicissitudes in early times, there is an absolute dearth of information regarding its state and progress during more recent periods, and its actual condition at the present day.

I was made sensible of this want, on the occasion of my nomination, in 1845, to an office in connection with the government of Ceylon. I found abundant details as to the capture of the maritime provinces from the Dutch in 1795, in the narrative of Captain PERCIVAL[1], an officer who had served in the expedition; and the efforts to organise the first system of administration are amply described by CORDINER[2], Chaplain to the Forces; by Lord VALENTIA[3], who was then travelling in the East; and by ANTHONY BERTOLACCI[4], who acted as auditor-general to the first governor, Mr. North, afterwards Earl of Guilford. The story of the capture of Kandy in 1815 has been related by an anonymous eye-witness under the pseudonyme of PHILALETHES[5], and by MARSHALL in his Historical Sketch of the conquest.[6] An admirable description of the interior of the island, as it presented itself some forty years ago, was furnished by Dr. DAVY[7], a brother of the eminent philosopher, who was employed on the medical staff in Ceylon, from 1816 till 1820.

[Footnote 1: An Account of the Island of Ceylon, &c., by Capt. R. PERCIVAL, 4to. London, 1805.]

[Footnote 2: A Description of Ceylon, &c., by the Rev. JAMES CORDINER, A.M. 2 vols. 4to. London, 1807.]

[Footnote 3: Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, by Lord Viscount VALENTIA. 3 vols. 4to. London, 1809.]

[Footnote 4: A View of the Agricultural, Commercial, and Financial Interests of Ceylon, &c., by A. BERTOLACCI, Esq. London, 1817.]

[Footnote 5: A History of Ceylon from the earliest Period to the Year MDCCCXV, by PHILALETHES, A.M. 4to. Lond. 1817. The author is believed to have been the Rev. G. Bisset.]

[Footnote 6: HENRY MARSHALL, F.R.S.E., &c. went to Ceylon as assistant surgeon of the 89th regiment, in 1806, and from 1816 till 1821 was the senior medical officer of the Kandyan provinces.]

[Footnote 7: An Account of the Interior of Ceylon, &c., by JOHN DAVY, M.D. 4to, London, 1821.]

Here the long series of writers is broken, just at the commencement of a period the most important and interesting in the history of the island. The mountain zone, which for centuries had been mysteriously hidden from the Portuguese and Dutch[1] was suddenly opened to British enterprise in 1815. The lofty region, from behind whose barrier of hills the kings of Kandy had looked down and defied the arms of three successive European nations, was at last rendered accessible by the grandest mountain road in India; and in the north of the island, the ruins of ancient cities, and the stupendous monuments of an early civilisation, were discovered in the solitudes of the great central forests. English merchants embarked in the renowned trade in cinnamon, which we had wrested from the Dutch; and British capitalists introduced the cultivation of coffee into the previously inaccessible highlands. Changes of equal magnitude contributed to alter the social position of the natives; domestic slavery was extinguished; compulsory labour, previously exacted from the free races, was abolished; and new laws under a charter of justice superseded the arbitrary rule of the native chiefs. In the course of less than half a century, the aspect of the country became changed, the condition of the people was submitted to new influences; and the time arrived to note the effects of this civil revolution.

[Footnote 1: VALENTYN, In his great work on the Dutch possessions in India, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, alludes more than once with regret to the ignorance in which his countrymen were kept as to the interior of Ceylon, concerning which their only information was obtained through fugitives and spies. (Vol. v. ch. ii. p. 35; ch. xv. p. 205.)]

But on searching for books such as I expected to find, recording the phenomena consequent on these domestic and political events, I was disappointed to discover that they were few in number and generally meagre in information. Major FORBES, who in 1826 and for some years afterwards held a civil appointment in the Kandyan country, published an interesting account of his observations[1]; and his work derives value from the attention which the author had paid to the ancient records of the island, whose contents were then undergoing investigation by the erudite and indefatigable TURNOUR.[2]

[Footnote 1: Eleven Years in Ceylon, &c., by Major FORBES. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1840.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. I. Part III. ch. iii. p. 312.]

In 1843 Mr. BENNETT, a retired civil servant of the colony, who had studied some branches of its natural history, and especially its ichthyology, embodied his experiences in a volume entitled "Ceylon and its Capabilities," containing a mass of information, somewhat defective in arrangement. These and a number of minor publications, chiefly descriptive of sporting tours in search of elephants and deer, with incidental notices of the sublime scenery and majestic ruins of the island, were the only modern works that treated of Ceylon; but no one of them sufficed to furnish a connected view of the colony at the present day, contrasting its former state with the condition to which it has attained under the government of Great Britain.

On arriving in Ceylon and entering on my official functions, this absence of local knowledge entailed frequent inconvenience. In my tours throughout the interior, I found ancient monuments, apparently defying decay, of which no one could tell the date or the founder; and temples and cities in ruins, whose destroyers were equally unknown. There were vast structures of public utility, on which the prosperity of the country had at one time been dependent; artificial lakes, with their conduits and canals for irrigation; the condition of which rendered it interesting to ascertain the period of their formation, and the causes of their abandonment; but to every inquiry of this nature, there was the same unvarying reply: that information regarding them might possibly be found in the Mahawanso or in some other of the native chronicles; but that few had ever read them, and none had succeeded in reproducing them for popular instruction.

A still more serious embarrassment arose from the want of authorities to throw light on questions that were sometimes the subject of administrative deliberation: there were native customs which no available materials sufficed to illustrate; and native claims, often serious in their importance, the consideration of which was obstructed by a similar dearth of authentic data. With a view to executive measures, I was frequently desirous of consulting the records of the two European governments, under which the island had been administered for 300 years before the arrival of the British; their experience might have served as a guide, and even their failures would have pointed out errors to be avoided; but here, again, I had to encounter disappointment: in answer to my inquiries, I was assured that the records, both of the Portuguese and Dutch, had long since disappeared from the archives of the colony.

Their loss, whilst in our custody, is the more remarkable, considering the value which was attached to them by our predecessors. The Dutch, on the conquest of Ceylon in the seventeenth century, seized the official accounts and papers of the Portuguese; and a memoir is preserved by VALENTYN, in which the Governor, Van Goens, on handing over the command to his successor in 1663, enjoins on him the study of these important documents, and expresses anxiety for their careful preservation.[1]

[Footnote 1: VALENTYN, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, &c., ch. xiii. p. 174.]

The British, on the capture of Colombo in 1796, were equally solicitous to obtain possession of the records of the Dutch Government. By Art. XIV. of the capitulation they were required to be "faithfully delivered over;" and, by Art. XI., all "surveys of the island and its coasts" were required to be surrendered to the captors.[1] But, strange to say, almost the whole of these interesting and important papers appear to have been lost; not a trace of the Portuguese records, so far as I could discover, remains at Colombo; and if any vestige of those of the Dutch be still extant, they have probably become illegible from decay and the ravages of the white ants.[2]

[Footnote 1: Amongst a valuable collection of documents presented to the Royal Asiatic Society of London, by the late Sir Alexander Johnston, formerly Chief Justice of Ceylon, there is a volume of Dutch surveys of the Island, containing important maps of the coast and its harbours, and plans of the great works for irrigation in the northern and eastern provinces.]

[Footnote 2: Note to the second edition.—Since the first edition was published, I have been told by a late officer of the Ceylon Government, that many years ago, what remained of the Dutch records were removed from the record-room of the Colonial Office to the cutcherry of the government agent of the western province: where some of them may still be found.]

But the loss is not utterly irreparable; duplicates of the Dutch correspondence during their possession of Ceylon are carefully preserved at Amsterdam; and within the last few years the Trustees of the British Museum purchased from the library of the late Lord Stuart de Rothesay the Diplomatic Correspondence and Papers of SEBASTIAO JOZE CARVALHO E MELLO (Portuguese Ambassador at London and Vienna, and subsequently known as the Marquis de Pombal), from 1738 to 1747, including sixty volumes relating to the history of the Portuguese possessions in India and Brazil during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Amongst the latter are forty volumes of despatches relative to India entitled Colleccam Authentica de todas as Leys, Regimentos, Alvaras e mais ordens que se expediram para a India, desde o establecimento destas conquistas; Ordenada por proviram de 28 de Marco de 1754.[1] These contain the despatches to and from the successive Captains-General and Governors of Ceylon, so that, in part at least, the replacement of the records lost in the colony may be effected by transcription.

[Footnote 1: MSS. Brit Mus. No. 20,861 to 20,900.]

Meanwhile in their absence I had no other resource than the narratives of the Dutch and Portuguese historians, chiefly VALENTYN, DE BARROS, and DE COUTO, who have preserved in two languages the least familiar in Europe, chronicles of their respective governments, which, so far as I am aware, have never been republished in any translation.

The present volumes contain no detailed notice of the Buddhist faith as it exists in Ceylon, of the Brahmanical rites, or of the other religious superstitions of the island. These I have already described in my history of Christianity in Ceylon.[1] The materials for that work were originally designed to form a portion of the present one; but having expanded to too great dimensions to be made merely subsidiary, I formed them into a separate treatise. Along with them I have incorporated facts illustrative of the national character of the Singhalese under the conjoint influences of their ancestral superstitions and the partial enlightenment of education and gospel truth.

[Footnote 1: Christianity in Ceylon: its Introduction and Progress under the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and American Missions; with an Historical Sketch of the Brahmanical and Buddhist Superstitons by Sir JAMES EMERSON TENNENT. London, Murray, 1850.]

Respecting the Physical Geography and Natural History of the colony, I found an equal want of reliable information; and every work that even touched on the subject was pervaded by the misapprehension which I have collected evidence to correct; that Ceylon is but a fragment of the great Indian continent dissevered by some local convulsion; and that the zoology and botany of the island are identical with those of the mainland.[1]

[Footnote 1: It may seem presumptuous in me to question the accuracy of Dr. DAVY'S opinion on this point (see his Account of the Interior of Ceylon, &c., ch. iii. p. 78), but the grounds on which I venture to do so are stated, Vol. I. pp. 7, 27, 160, 178, 208, &c.]

Thus for almost every particular and fact, whether physical or historical, I have been to a great extent thrown on my own researches; and obliged to seek for information in original sources, and in French and English versions of Oriental authorities. The results of my investigations are embodied in the following pages; and it only remains for me to express, in terms however inadequate, my obligations to the literary and scientific friends by whose aid I have been enabled to pursue my inquiries.

Amongst these my first acknowledgments are due to Dr. TEMPLETON, of the Army Medical Staff, for his cordial assistance in numerous departments; but above all in relation to the physical geography and natural history of the island. Here his scientific knowledge, successfully cultivated during a residence of nearly twelve years in Ceylon, and his intimate familiarity with its zoology and productions, rendered his co-operation invaluable;—and these sections abound with evidences of the liberal extent to which his stores of information have been generously imparted. To him and to Dr. CAMERON, of the Army Medical Staff, I am indebted for many valuable facts and observations on tropical health and disease, embodied in the chapter on "Climate."

Sir RODERICK I. MURCHISON (without committing himself as to the controversial portions of the chapter on the Geology and Mineralogy of Ceylon) has done me the favour to offer some valuable suggestions, and to express his opinion as to the general accuracy of the whole.

Although a feature so characteristic as that of its Vegetation could not possibly be omitted in a work professing to give an account of Ceylon, I had neither the space nor the qualifications necessary to produce a systematic sketch of the Botany of the island. I could only attempt to describe it as it exhibits itself to an unscientific spectator; and the notices that I have given are confined to such of the more remarkable plants as cannot fail to arrest the attention of a stranger. In illustration of these, I have had the advantage of copious communications from WILLIAM FERGUSON, Esq., a gentleman attached to the Survey Department of the Civil Service in Ceylon, whose opportunities for observation in all parts of the island have enabled him to cultivate with signal success his taste for botanical pursuits. And I have been permitted to submit the portion of my work which refers to this subject to the revision of the highest living authority on Indian botany, Dr. J.D. HOOKER, of Kew.

Regarding the fauna of Ceylon, little has been published in any collective form, with the exception of a volume by Dr. KELAART entitled Prodromus Faunae Zeilanicae; several valuable papers by Mr. EDGAR L. LAYARD in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History for 1852 and 1853; and some very imperfect lists appended to PRIDHAM'S compiled account of the island.[1] KNOX, in the charming narrative of his captivity, published in the reign of Charles II., has devoted a chapter to the animals of Ceylon, and Dr. DAVY has described the principal reptiles: but with these exceptions the subject is almost untouched in works relating to the colony. Yet a more than ordinary interest attaches to the inquiry, since Ceylon, instead of presenting, as is generally assumed, an identity between its fauna and that of Southern India, exhibits a remarkable diversity of type, taken in connection with the limited area over which they are distributed. The island, in fact, may be regarded as the centre of a geographical circle, possessing within itself forms, whose allied species radiate far into the temperate regions of the north, as well as into Africa, Australia, and the isles of the Eastern Archipelago.

[Footnote 1: An Historical Political, and Statistical Account of Ceylon and its Dependencies, by C. PRIDHAM, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1849. The author was never, I believe, in Ceylon, but his book is a laborious condensation of the principal English works relating to it. Its value would have been greatly increased had Mr. Pridham accompanied his excerpts by references to the respective authorities.]

In the chapters that I have devoted to its elucidation, I have endeavoured to interest others in the subject, by describing my own observations and impressions, with fidelity, and with as much accuracy as may be expected from a person possessing, as I do, no greater knowledge of zoology and the other physical sciences than is ordinarily possessed by any educated gentleman. It was my good fortune, however, in my journies to have the companionship of friends familiar with many branches of natural science: the late Dr. GARDNER, Mr. EDGAR L. LAYARD, an accomplished zoologist, Dr. TEMPLETON, and others; and I was thus enabled to collect on the spot many interesting facts relative to the structure and habits of the numerous tribes of animals. These, chastened by the corrections of my fellow-travellers, and established by the examination of collections made in the colony, and by subsequent comparison with specimens contained in museums at home, I have ventured to submit as faithful outlines of the fauna of Ceylon.

The sections descriptive of the several classes are accompanied by lists, prepared with the assistance of scientific friends, showing the extent to which each particular branch had been investigated by naturalists, up to the period of my departure from Ceylon at the close of 1849. These, besides their inherent interest, will, I trust, stimulate others to engage in the same pursuits, by exhibiting the chasms, which it still remains for future industry and research to fill up;—and the study of the zoology of Ceylon may thus serve as a preparative for that of Continental India, embracing, as the former does, much that is common to both, as well as possessing within itself a fauna peculiar to the island, that will amply repay more extended scrutiny.

From these lists have been excluded all species regarding the authenticity of which reasonable doubts could be entertained[1], and of some of them, a very few have been printed in italics, in order to denote the desirability of comparing them more minutely with well determined specimens in the great national depositories before finally incorporating them with the Singhalese catalogues.

[Footnote 1: An exception occurs in the list of shells, prepared by Mr. SYLVANUS HANLEY, in which some whose localities are doubtful have been admitted for reasons adduced. (See Vol. I, p. 234.)]

In the labour of collecting and verifying the facts embodied in these sections, I cannot too warmly express my thanks for the aid I have received from gentlemen interested in similar pursuits in Ceylon: from Dr. KELAART and Mr. EDGAR L. LAYARD, as well as from officers of the Ceylon Civil Service; the HON. GERALD C. TALBOT, Mr. C.E. BULLER, Mr. MERCER, Mr. MORRIS, Mr. WHITING, Major SKINNER, and Mr. MITFORD.

Before venturing to commit these chapters of my work to the press, I have had the advantage of having portions of them read by Professor HUXLEY, Mr. MOORE, of the East India House Museum; Mr. R. PATTERSON, F.R.S., author of the Introduction to Zoology, and by Mr. ADAM WHITE, of the British Museum; to each of whom I am exceedingly indebted for the care they have bestowed. In an especial degree I have to acknowledge the kindness of Dr. J.E. GRAY, F.R.S. for valuable additions and corrections in the list of the Ceylon Reptilia; and to Professor FARADAY for some notes on the nature and qualities of the "Serpent Stone,"[1] submitted to him. I have recorded in its proper place my obligations to Admiral FITZROY, for his most ingenious theory in elucidation of the phenomena of the Tides around Ceylon.[2]

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I. Part II. ch. iii. p. 199.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. II. Part VII. ch. i. p. 116.]

The extent to which my observations on the Elephant have been carried, requires some explanation. The existing notices of this noble creature are chiefly devoted to its habits and capabilities in captivity; and very few works, with which I am acquainted, contain illustrations of its instincts and functions when wild in its native woods. Opportunities for observing the latter, and for collecting facts in connection with them, are abundant in Ceylon, and from the moment of my arrival, I profited by every occasion afforded to me for studying the elephant in a state of nature, and obtaining from hunters and natives correct information as to its oeconomy and disposition. Anecdotes in connection with this subject, I received from some of the most experienced residents In the island; amongst others, Major SKINNER, Captain PHILIP PAYNE GALLWEY, Mr. FAIRHOLME, Mr. CRIPPS, and Mr. MORRIS. Nor can I omit to express my acknowledgments to PROFESSOR OWEN, of the British Museum, to whom this portion of my manuscript was submitted previous to its committal to the press.

In the historical sections of the work, I have been reluctantly compelled to devote a considerable space to a narrative deduced from the ancient Singhalese chronicles; into which I found it most difficult to infuse any popular interest. But the toil was not undertaken without a motive. The oeconomics and hierarchical institutions of Buddhism as administered through successive dynasties, exercised so paramount an influence over the habits and occupations of the Singhalese people, that their impress remains indelible to the present day. The tenure of temple lands, the compulsory services of tenants, the extension of agriculture, and the whole system of co-operative cultivation, derived from this source organisation and development; and the origin and objects of these are only to be rendered intelligible by an inquiry into the events and times in which the system took its rise. In connection with this subject, I am indebted to the representatives of the late Mr. TURNOUR, of the Ceylon Civil Service, for access to his unpublished manuscripts; and to those portions of his correspondence with Prinsep, which relate to the researches of these two distinguished scholars regarding the Pali annals of Ceylon. I have also to acknowledge my obligations to M. JULES MOHL, the literary executor of M. E. BURNOUF, for the use of papers left by that eminent orientalist in illustration of the ancient geography of the island, as exhibited in the works of Pali and Sanskrit writers.

I have been signally assisted inn my search for materials illustrative of the social and intellectual condition of the Singhalese nation, during the early ages of their history, by gentlemen in Ceylon, whose familiarity with the native languages and literature impart authority to their communications; by ERNEST DE SARAM WIJEYESEKERE KAROONARATNE, the Maha-Moodliar and First Interpreter to the Governor; and to Mr. DE ALWIS, the erudite translator of the Sidath Sangara. From the Rev. Mr. GOGERLY of the Wesleyan Mission, I have received expositions of Buddhist policy; and the Rev. R SPENCE HARDY, author of the two most important modern works on the archaeology of Buddhism[1], has done me the favour to examine the chapter on SINGHALESE Literature, and to enrich it by numerous suggestions and additions.

[Footnote 1: Oriental Monachism, 8vo. London, 1850; and A Manual of Buddhism, 8vo. London, 1853]

In like manner I have had the advantage of communicating with MR. COOLEY (author of the History of Maritime and Inland Discovery) in relation to the Mediaeval History of Ceylon, and the period embraced by the narrative of the Greek, Arabian, and Italian travellers, between the fifth and fifteenth centuries.

I have elsewhere recorded my obligations to Mr. WYLIE, and to his colleague, Mr. LOCKHART of Shanghae, for the materials of one of the most curious chapters of my work, that which treats of the knowledge of Ceylon possessed by the Chinese in the Middle Ages. This is a field which, so far as I know, is untouched by any previous writer on Ceylon. In the course of my inquires, finding that Ceylon had been, from the remotest times, the point at which the merchant fleets from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf met those from China and the Oriental Archipelago; thus effecting an exchange of merchandise from East and West; and discovering that the Arabian and Persian voyagers, on their return, had brought home copious accounts of the island, it occurred to me that the Chinese travellers during the same period had in all probability been equally observant and communicative, and that the results of their experience might be found in Chinese works of the Middle Ages. Acting on this conjecture, I addressed myself to a Chinese gentleman, WANG TAO CHUNG, who was then in England; and he, on his return to Shanghae, made known my wishes to Mr. WYLIE. My anticipations were more than realised by Mr. WYLIE'S researches. I received in due course, extracts from upwards of twenty works by Chinese writers, between the fifth and fifteenth centuries, and the curious and interesting facts contained in them are embodied in the chapter devoted to that particular subject. In addition to these, the courtesy of M. STANISLAS JULIEN, the eminent French Sinologue, has laid me under a similar obligation for access to unpublished passages relative to Ceylon, in his translation of the great work of HIOUEN THSANG; in his translation of the great work of HIOUEN THSANG; descriptive of the Buddhist country of India in the seventh century.[1]

[Footnote 1: Memoires sur les Contrees Occidentales, traduites du Sanscrit en Chinois, en l'an 648, par M. STANISLAS JULIEN.]

It is with pain that I advert to that portion of the section which treats of the British rule in Ceylon; in the course of which the discovery of the private correspondence of the first Governor, Mr. North, deposited along with the Wellesley Manuscripts, in the British Museum[1], has thrown an unexpected light over the fearful events of 1803, and the massacre of the English troops then in garrison at Kandy. Hitherto the honour of the British Government has been unimpeached in these dark transactions; and the slaughter of the troops has been uniformly denounced as an evidence of the treacherous and "tiger-like" spirit of the Kandyan people.[2] But it is not possible now to read the narrative of these events, as the motives and secret arrangements of the Governor with the treacherous Minister of the king are disclosed in the private letters of Mr. North to the Governor-general of India, without feeling that the sudden destruction of Major Davie's party, however revolting the remorseless butchery by which it was achieved, may have been but the consummation of a revenge provoked by the discovery of the treason concocted by the Adigar in confederacy with the representative of the British Crown. Nor is this construction weakened by the fact, that no immediate vengeance was exacted by the Governor in expiation of that fearful tragedy; and that the private letters of Mr. North to the Marquis of Wellesley contain avowals of ineffectual efforts to hush up the affair, and to obtain a clumsy compromise by inducing the Kandyan king to make an admission of regret.

[Footnote 1: Additional MSS., Brit. Mus., No. 13864, &c.]

[Footnote 2: DE QUINCEY, collected Works, vol. xii. p. 14.]

I am aware that there are passages in the following pages containing statements that occur more than once in the course of the work. But I found that in dealing with so many distinct subjects the same fact became sometimes an indispensable illustration of more than one topic; and hence repetition was unavoidable even at the risk of tautology.

I have also to apologise for variances in the spelling of proper names, both of places and individuals, occurring in different passages. In extenuation of this, I can only plead the difficulty of preserving uniformity in matters dependent upon mere sound, and unsettled by any recognised standard of orthography.

I have endeavoured in every instance to append references to other authors, in support of statements which I have drawn from previous writers; an arrangement rendered essential by the numerous instances in which errors, that nothing short of the original authorities can suffice to expose, have been reproduced and repeated by successive writers on Ceylon.

To whatever extent the preparation of this work may have fallen short of its conception, and whatever its demerits in execution and style, I am not without hope that it will still exhibit evidence that by perseverance and research I have laboured to render it worthy of the subject.


LONDON: July 13th, 1859.





GENERAL ASPECT.—Ceylon, from whatever direction it is approached, unfolds a scene of loveliness and grandeur unsurpassed, if it be rivalled, by any land in the universe. The traveller from Bengal, leaving behind the melancholy delta of the Ganges and the torrid coast of Coromandel; or the adventurer from Europe, recently inured to the sands of Egypt and the scorched headlands of Arabia, is alike entranced by the vision of beauty which expands before him as the island rises from the sea, its lofty mountains covered by luxuriant forests, and its shores, till they meet the ripple of the waves, bright with the foliage of perpetual spring.

The Brahmans designated it by the epithet of "the resplendent," and in their dreamy rhapsodies extolled it as the region of mystery and sublimity[1]; the Buddhist poets gracefully apostrophised it as "a pearl upon the brow of India;" the Chinese knew it as the "island of jewels;" the Greeks as the "land of the hyacinth and the ruby;" the Mahometans, in the intensity of their delight, assigned it to the exiled parents of mankind as a new elysium to console them for the loss of Paradise; and the early navigators of Europe, as they returned dazzled with its gems, and laden with its costly spices, propagated the fable that far to seaward the very breeze that blew from it was redolent of perfume.[2] In later and less imaginative times, Ceylon has still maintained the renown of its attractions, and exhibits in all its varied charms "the highest conceivable development of Indian nature."[3]

[Footnote 1: "Ils en ont fait une espece de paradis, et se sont imagine que des etres d'une nature angelique les habitaient."—ALBYROUNI, Traite des Eres, &c.; REINAUD, Geographie d'Aboulfeda, Introd. sec. iii. p. ccxxiv. The renown of Ceylon as it reached Europe in the seventeenth century is thus summed up by PURCHAS in His Pilgrimage, b.v.c. 18, p. 550:—"The heauens with their dewes, the ayre with a pleasant holesomenesse and fragrant freshnesse, the waters in their many riuers and fountaines, the earth diuersified in aspiring hills, lowly vales, equall and indifferent plaines, filled in her inward chambers with mettalls and jewells, in her outward court and vpper face stored with whole woods of the best cinnamons that the sunne seeth; besides fruits, oranges, lemons, &c. surmounting those of Spaine; fowles and beasts, both tame and wilde (among which is their elephant honoured by a naturall acknowledgement of excellence of all other elephants in the world). These all have conspired and joined in common league to present unto Zeilan the chiefe of worldly treasures and pleasures, with a long and healthfull life in the inhabitants to enjoye them. No marvell, then, if sense and sensualitie have heere stumbled on a paradise."]

[Footnote 2: The fable of the "spicy breezes" said to blow from Arabia and India, is as old as Ctesias; and is eagerly repeated by Pliny? lib. xii. c. 42. The Greeks borrowed the tale from the Hindus, who believe that the Chandana or sandal-wood imparts its odours to the winds; and their poete speak of the Malayan as the westerns did of the Sabaean breezes. But the allusion to such perfumed winds was a trope common to all the discoverers of unknown lands: the companions of Columbus ascribed them to the region of the Antilles; and Verrazani and Sir Walter Raleigh scented them off the coast of Carolina. Milton borrowed from Diodorus Siculus, lib. iii. c. 46, the statement that:

"Far off at sea north-east winds blow Sabaean odours from the spicy shore Of Araby the Blest." (P.L. iv. 163.)

Ariosto employs the same imaginative embellishment to describe the charms of Cyprus:

"Serpillo e persa e rose e gigli e croco Spargon dall'odorifero terreno Tanta suavita, ch'in mar sentire La fa ogni vento che da terra spire." (Oil. Fur. xviii. 138.)

That some aromatic smell is perceptible far to seaward, in the vicinity of certain tropical countries, is unquestionable; and in the instance of Cuba, an odour like that of violets, which is discernible two or three miles from land, when the wind is off the shore, has been traced by Poeppig to a species of Tetracera, a climbing plant which diffuses its odour during the night. But in the case of Ceylon? if the existence of such a perfume be not altogether imaginary, the fact has been falsified by identifying the alleged fragrance with cinnamon; the truth being that the cinnamon laurel, unless it be crushed, exhales no aroma whatever; and the peculiar odour of the spice is only perceptible after the bark has been separated and dried.]

[Footnote 3: LASSEN, Indische Alterthumskunde vol. i. p. 198.]

Picturesque Outline.—The nucleus of its mountain masses consists of gneissic, granitic, and other crystalline rocks, which in their resistless upheaval have rent the superincumbent strata, raising them into lofty pyramids and crags, or hurling them in gigantic fragments to the plains below. Time and decay are slow in their assaults on these towering precipices and splintered pinnacles; and from the absence of more perishable materials, there are few graceful sweeps along the higher chains or rolling downs in the lower ranges of the hills. Every bold elevation is crowned by battlemented cliffs, and flanked by chasms in which the shattered strata are seen as sharp and as rugged as if they had but recently undergone the grand convulsion that displaced them.

Foliage and Verdure.—The soil in these regions is consequently light and unremunerative, but the plentiful moisture arising from the interception of every passing vapour from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, added to the intense warmth of the atmosphere, combine to force a vegetation so rich and luxuriant, that imagination can picture nothing more wondrous and charming; every level spot is enamelled with verdure, forests of never-fading bloom cover mountain and valley; flowers of the brightest hues grow in profusion over the plains, and delicate climbing plants, rooted in the shelving rocks, hang in huge festoons down the edge of every precipice.

Unlike the forests of Europe, in which the excess of some peculiar trees imparts a character of monotony and graveness to the outline and colouring, the forests of Ceylon are singularly attractive from the endless variety of their foliage, and the vivid contrast of its hues. The mountains, especially those looking towards the east and south, rise abruptly to prodigious and almost precipitous heights above the level plains; the rivers wind through woods below like threads of silver through green embroidery, till they are lost in a dim haze which conceals the far horizon; and through this a line of tremulous light marks where the sunbeams are glittering among the waves upon the distant shore.

From age to age a scene so lovely has imparted a colouring of romance to the adventures of the seamen who, in the eagerness of commerce, swept round the shores of India, to bring back the pearls and precious stones, the cinnamon and odours, of Ceylon. The tales of the Arabians are fraught with the wonders of "Serendib;" and the mariners of the Persian Gulf have left a record of their delight in reaching the calm havens of the island, and reposing for months together in valleys where the waters of the sea were overshadowed by woods, and the gardens were blooming in perennial summer.[1]

[Footnote 1: REINAUD, Relation des Voyages Arabes, &c., dans le neuvieme siecle. Paris, 1845, tom. ii. p. 129.]

Geographical Position.—Notwithstanding the fact that the Hindus, in their system of the universe, had given prominent importance to Ceylon, their first meridian, "the meridian of Lanka," being supposed to pass over the island, they propounded the most extravagant ideas, both as to its position and extent; expanding it to the proportions of a continent, and at the same time placing it a considerable distance south-east of India.[1]

[Footnote 1: For a condensed account of the dimensions and position attributed to Lanka, in the Mythic Astronomy of the Hindus, see REINAUD's Introduction to Aboulfeda, sec. iii. p. ccxvii., and his Memoire sur l'Inde, p. 342; WILFORD's Essay on the Sacred Isles of the West, Asiat. Researches, vol. x, p. 140.]

The native Buddhist historians, unable to confirm the exaggerations of the Brahmans, and yet reluctant to detract from the epic renown of their country by disclaiming its stupendous dimensions, attempted to reconcile its actual extent with the fables of the eastern astronomers by imputing to the agency of earthquakes the submersion of vast regions by the sea.[1] But evidence is wanting to corroborate the assertion of such an occurrence, at least within the historic period; no record of it exists in the earliest writings of the Hindus, the Arabians, or Persians; who, had the tradition survived, would eagerly have chronicled a catastrophe so appalling.[2] Geologic analogy, so far as an inference is derivable from the formation of the adjoining coasts, both of India and Ceylon, is opposed to its probability; and not only plants, but animals, mammalia, birds, reptiles, and insects, exist in Ceylon, which are not to be found in the flora or fauna of the Indian continent.[3]

[Footnote 1: SIR WILLIAM JONES adopted the legendary opinion that Ceylon "formerly perhaps, extended much farther to the west and south, so as to include Lanka or the equinoctial point of the Indian astronomers."—Discourse on the Institution of a Society for inquiring into the History, &c., of the Borderers, Mountaineers, and Islanders of Asia.—Works, vol. i. p. 120.

The Portuguese, on their arrival in Ceylon in the sixteenth century, found the natives fully impressed by the traditions of its former extent and partial submersion; and their belief in connection with it, will be found in the narratives and histories of De Barros and Diogo de Couto, from which they have been transferred, almost without abridgment, to the pages of Valentyn. The substance of the native legends will be found in the Mahawanso, c. xxii. p. 131; and Rajavali, p. 180, 190.]

[Footnote 2: The first disturbance of the coast by which Ceylon is alleged to have been severed from the main land is said by the Buddhists to have taken place B.C. 2387; a second commotion is ascribed to the age of Panduwaasa, B.C. 504; and the subsidence of the shore adjacent to Colombo is said to have taken place 200 years later, in the reign of Devenipiatissa, B.C. 306. The event is thus recorded in the Rajavali, one of the sacred books of Ceylon:—"In these days the sea was seven leagues from Kalany; but on account of what had been done to the teeroonansee (a priest who had been tortured by the king of Kalany), the gods who were charged with the conservation of Ceylon, became enraged and caused the sea to deluge the land; and as during the epoch called duwapawrayaga on account of the wickedness of Rawana, 25 palaces and 400,000 streets were all over-run by the sea, so now in this time of Tissa Raja, 100,000 large towns, 910 fishers' villages, and 400 villages inhabited by pearl fishers, making together eleven-twelfths of the territory of Kalany, were swallowed up by the sea."—Rajavali, vol. ii. p. 180, 190.

FORBES observes the coincidence that the legend of the rising of the sea in the age of Panduwaasa, 2378 B.C., very nearly concurs with the date assigned to the Deluge of Noah, 2348,—Eleven Years in Ceylon, vol. ii. p. 258. A tradition is also extant, that a submersion took place at a remote period on the east coast of Ceylon, whereby the island of Giri-dipo, which is mentioned in the first chapter of the Mahawanso, was engulfed, and the dangerous rocks called the Great and Little Basses are believed to be remnants of it.—Mahawanso, c. i.

A resume of the disquisitions which have appeared at various times as to the submersion of a part of Ceylon, will be found in a Memoir sur la Geographie ancienne de Ceylon, in the Journal Asiatique for January, 1857, 5th ser., vol. ix. p. 12; see also TURNOUR'S Introd. to the Mahawanso, p. xxxiv.]

[Footnote 3: Some of the mammalia peculiar to the island are enumerated at p. 160; birds found in Ceylon but not existing in India are alluded to at p. 178, and Dr. A. GUENTHER, in a paper on the Geographical Distribution of Reptiles, in the Mag. of Nat. Hist. for March, 1859, says, "amongst these larger islands which are connected with the middle palaeotropical region, none offers forms so different from the continent and other islands as Ceylon. It might be considered the Madagascar of the Indian region. We not only find there peculiar genera and species, not again to be recognised in other parts; but even many of the common species exhibit such remarkable varieties, as to afford ample means for creating new nominal species," p. 280. The difference exhibited between the insects of Ceylon and those of Hindustan and the Dekkan are noticed by Mr. Walker in the present work, p. ii. ch. vii, vol. i. p. 270. See on this subject RITTER'S Erdkunde, vol. iv. p. 17.]

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