IN03152 Galle Trilingual Slab – Chinese Inscription

Author: Senarath Paranavitana

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, IN03151) and Chinese (right). The Chinese inscription is dealt with here.

 

Following the discovery of the slab, the Chinese inscription was successfully transcribed and translated by Edmund Backhouse. Like the Tamil inscription, it is dated in the second month of the seventh year of Yuṅlo (Yung Lo), the Chinese emperor whose reign began in 1403 A.D. The text features a list of praise and offerings dedicated by the Chinese emperor, through his envoys Ching-Ho and Wang Ch’ing Lien, to the Buddha. The other two inscriptions on the slab feature similar (though not identical) lists of offerings but the beneficiary is different in each case, being a Hindu cult deity in the Tamil text and an Islamic saint or shrine in the Persian. 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.

Community: Sri Lanka epigraphy
Uploaded on November 6, 2017
March 25, 2020
IN03151 Galle Trilingual Slab – Persian Inscription

Author: Senarath Paranavitana

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.

Community: Sri Lanka epigraphy
Uploaded on November 6, 2017
March 25, 2020
OB03125 Galle Trilingual Slab

Author: Senarath Paranavitana

Galle Trilingual Inscription, National Museum, Colombo

 

Community: Sri Lanka epigraphy
Uploaded on November 6, 2017
March 25, 2020
IN03150 Galle Trilingual Slab – Tamil Inscription

Author: Senarath Paranavitana

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), Persian (bottom-left, IN0351) and Chinese (right, IN0352). The Tamil 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 Paranativana, who benefitted from having access to Backhouse’s translation of the Chinese text.

 

Like the Chinese inscription, the Tamil inscription is dated in the second month of the seventh year of Yuṅlo (Yung Lo), the Chinese emperor whose reign began in 1403 A.D. The text tells us that the Chinese emperor, having heard of the fame of the god Tenavarai-nāyaṉār in Sri Lanka, sent to him, through his envoys Ciṅvo and Uviṅcuviṅ, various kinds of offerings, of which a detailed list is given. Paranavitana notes that Tenavarai is the Tamil name for Devundara (Devunuvara), a settlement near Matara on the southern coast of Sri Lanka which was the centre of a cult dedicated to a deity known as Uppalavaṇṇa. Sometimes like the Purāṇic Viṣṇy in the Hindu tradition, this god was sometimes styled in Sinhalese ‘Devundara Deviyo’, which can be rendered in Tamil as ‘Tenavarai-nāyaṉār’. 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 an Islamic shrine or saint in the Persian. 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.

Community: Sri Lanka epigraphy
Uploaded on November 6, 2017
March 25, 2020