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 1:  TURNOUR’S Mahawanso, Index, p. xi.  This stupendous work was constructed A.D. 459. Mahawanso, ch. xxxviii. p. 256.]

When to such inherent deficiencies were added the alarms of frequent invasion and all the evils of almost incessant occupation by a foreign enemy, it is only surprising that the Singhalese preserved so long the degree of expertness in engineering to which they had originally attained.  No people in any age or country had so great practice and experience in the construction of works for irrigation; and so far had the renown of their excellence in this branch reached, that in the eighth century, the king of Kashmir, Djaya-pida, “sent to Ceylon for engineers to form a lake."[1] But after the reign of Prakrama I., the decline was palpable and progressive.  No great works, either of ornament or utility, no temples nor inland lakes, were constructed by his successors; and it is remarkable, that even during his own reign, artificers were brought from the coast of India to repair the monuments of Anarajapoora.[2] The last great work attempted for irrigation was probably the Giant’s Tank, north-east of Aripo; but so much had practical science declined, that after an enormous expenditure of labour in damming up the Moeselley river, whose waters were to have been diverted to the lake, it was discovered that the levels were unsuitable, and the work was abandoned in despair.[3]

[Footnote 1:  A.D. 745. Rajataringini, b. iv. sl. 502, 505.]

[Footnote 2:  Mahawanso, UPHAM’S transl., ch. lxxv. p. 294.  This passage in the Mahawanso might seem to imply that it was as an act of retribution that Malabars, by whom the monuments had been injured, were compelled to restore them.  But in ch. lxxvii. it is stated that they were brought from India for this purpose, because it “had been found impracticable by other kings to renew and repair them.”—­P. 305.]

[Footnote 3:  For an account of the present condition of the Giant’s Tank, see Vol.  II.  Part x. ch. ii.]

The talents of the civil engineer were likewise employed in providing for the health and comfort of their towns and the Dipawanso, a chronicle earlier in point of date than the Mahawanso, relates that Wasabha, who reigned between A.D. 66 and 110, constructed a tunnel ("um-maggo”) for the purpose of supplying Anarajapoora with water.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Journ.  Asiat.  Soc.  Beng. vol. vii. p. 933.]



MUSIC.—­The science and practice of the fine arts were never very highly developed amongst a people whose domestic refinement became arrested at a very early stage; and whose efforts in that direction were almost wholly confined to the exaltation of the national faith, and the embellishment of its temples and monuments.

Their knowledge of music was derived from the Hindus, by whom its study was regarded as of equal importance with that of medicine and astronomy; and hence amongst the early Singhalese, along with the other “eighteen sciences,"[1] music was taught as an essential part of the education of a prince.[2]

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