The inscription is engraved on a stone slab discovered in 1911 by H. F. Tomalin, the Provincial Engineer at Galle, in a culvert near the turn to Cripps Road within that town and afterwards moved to the Colombo Museum. The slab features inscriptions in three different languages, enclosed within a floral border: Tamil (top-left, IN03150), Persian (bottom-left) and Chinese (right, IN03152). The Persian inscription is dealt with here.

 

Following the discovery of the slab, the Chinese inscription was successfully transcribed and translated by Edmund Backhouse. However, Rao Bahadur H. Krishna Sastri (Assistant Superintendent for Epigraphy, Madras) and J. Horrovitz (Epigraphist for Moslem Inscriptions in India) failed in their efforts to decipher the Tamil and Persian texts respectively. Sometime later, the Tamil inscription was transcribed and translated for the third volume of Epigraphia Zeylanica (1933: 331–341) by Senarath Paranavitana, who benefitted from having access to Backhouse’s translation of the Chinese text. The Persian inscription is badly damaged but Khwaja Muhammad Ahmad of the Archaeological Department of H. E. H. the Nizam’s Dominions was able to compile a text and translation of the legible portion, which was published in 1933 as an appendix (Appendix B) to Paranavitana’s account of the Tamil inscription.

 

The Chinese and Tamil inscriptions are both dated in the second month of the seventh year of Yuṅlo (Yung Lo), the Chinese emperor whose reign began in 1403 A.D. The date of the Persian inscription is not legible. What remains of the Persian inscription features blessings of the light of Islam and lists a number of offerings to an Islamic saint or shrine. The other two inscriptions on the slab feature similar (though not identical) lists of offerings but the beneficiary is different in each case, being the Buddha in the Chinese text and a Hindu cult deity in the Tamil. It therefore appears that, when the Chinese gained political ascendancy over Sri Lanka in 1409, they made gifts of equal value to several different religious traditions of the region and recorded these gifts on the same stone.