Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 892 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

[Footnote 2:  Rajaratnacari, pp. 104, 109, 112.  The custom which is still observed in Ceylon, of weaving robes between sunrise and sunset is called Catina dhwana (Rajavali, p. 261).  The work is performed chiefly by women, and the practice is identical with that mentioned by Herodotus, as observed by the priests of Egypt, who celebrated a festival in honour of the return of Rhampsinitus, after playing at dice with Ceres in Ilades, by investing one of their body with a cloak made in a single day, [Greek:  pharos autemeron exyphenantes], Euterpe, cxxii.  Gray, in his ode of The Fatal Sisters, has embodied the Scandinavian myth in which the twelve weird sisters, the Valkiriur, weave “the crimson web of war” between the rising and setting of the sun.]



[Sidenote:  B.C. 289.]

[Sidenote:  B.C. 266.]

For nearly a century after the accession of Devenipiatissa, the religion and the social development of Ceylon thus exhibited an equally steady advancement.  The cousins of the king, three of whom ascended the throne in succession, seem to have vied with each other in works of piety and utility.  Wiharas were built in all parts of the island, both north and south of the Maha-welli-ganga.  Dagobas were raised in various places, and cultivation was urged forward by the formation of tanks and canals.  But, during this period, from the fact of the Bengal immigrants being employed in more congenial or more profitable occupations (possibly also from the numbers who were annually devoting themselves to the service of the temples), and from the ascertained inaptitude of the native Singhalese to bear arms, a practice was commenced of retaining foreign mercenaries, which, even at that early period, was productive of animosity and bloodshed, and in process of time led to the overthrow of the Wijayan dynasty and the gradual decay of the Sinhala sovereignty.

[Sidenote:  B.C. 266.]

[Sidenote:  B.C. 237.]

[Sidenote:  B.C. 205.]

The genius of the Gangetic race, which had taken possession of Ceylon, was essentially adapted to agricultural pursuits—­in which, to the present day, their superiority is apparent over the less energetic tribes of the Dekkan.  Busied with such employments, the early colonists had no leisure for military service; besides, whilst Devenipiatissa and his successors were earnestly engaged in the formation of religious communities, and the erection of sacred edifices in the northern portion of the island, various princes of the same family occupied themselves in forming settlements in the south and west; and hence, whilst their people were zealously devoted to the service and furtherance of religion, the sovereign at Anarajapoora was compelled, through a combination of causes, to take into his pay a body of Malabars[1] for the protection

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