Some official documents of the Udarata Kingdom



Several important official documents were in use in the Udarata kingdom, starting with the ‘sannasa’. Some have been preserved into modern times. A ‘sannasa’ is a royal land grant usually inscribed on copper but occasionally on gold and silver, carrying the royal ‘Sri’. It is precisely dated, gives the exact boundaries of the land, the conditions attached, and the family tree of the recipient or, in the case of a temple the history of the temple and name of its incumbent. Some sannas are beautifully engraved and ornamented with kundali flourishes at the beginning and end of each line. Molligoda sannasa (1814) is a silver mounted copper sannasa, with ‘Sri’ inlaid in gold. Historical Manuscripts Commission (1933) found a copper plate sannasa ‘unique in every way’ at Lankatilleke. Four copper plates were linked together by hinges. They contained edicts of three kings and one chief minister.

A sannasa issued by Wimaladharmasuriya I in 1593 is mentioned by Coomaraswamy (1907). A copper plate sannasa, lined in silver, issued in 1656 by Rajasinha II for bravery at the siege of Colombo was found by Historical Manuscripts Commission at Morahela. It showed that Batticaloa and Wellassa were one disavani at the time. Coomaraswamy also refers to a 1710 sannasa by Wimaladharmasuriya II, granting ‘highland, lowland, plantation and buildings’ to a craftsman of Gannoruva.

The sannas by Kirti Sri Rajasinha include Gataberiya (1760,) Lengala (1754,) Hettimulla (1757) Yekoladeniya (1757) Duldeniya (1761). Of the three sannas by Rajadhi Rajasinha, the 1715 sannasa giving Nuvarama pattuwa in Nuwarakalaviya to Nuvaraveve Suryakumara Vannisinha Mudaliyar in recognition of his fidelity and faithful performance of rajakariya is an unusually fine copper sannasa with royal emblem and signature in gold. Three sannas by Sri Wickrema Rajasingha have been found, Palkumbura (1804), Molligoda (1814) and an earlier one dated 1803.

Temples preserved their sannas. Damunumeya vihara sannasa (Rajasinha II, 1635) said the vihara was built by the village leaders of Damunumeya, Hanguranketa. The lands donated by them to the new temple were listed, also the news that they borrowed the images and the priest from the nearby Madanvela temple for the occasion. Kehelvala vihara sannasa (Rajadhi, 1790) indicated that it was built by the villagers who dedicated small pieces of land to it, including a single coconut tree.

Degaldoruwa sannasa (Rajadhi, 1786) gives in detail the work done to set up the temple. Palkumbura vihara sannasa (Sri Wickreme, 1804) speaks of renovations by Narendrasinha and records that the vihara has been offered to Ven. Kobbekaduwe Sri Nivasa. Medawala vihara sannasa (Kirti Sri, 1755) is considered unique. It gives the history of the vihara from its origins, through Walagamba, Parakrama bahu V, Vickramabahu III, on to Kirti Sri. It also contains much valuable information on architecture, painting, land tenure and musical instruments. Musical instruments are named and the compensation paid when land is taken over is recorded. The royal signature is very prominent.

Craftsman families have also preserved their sannas. Wimaladharmasuriya I (1593) gave land to painter Rajesvara Hittara Acariya of Ullandupitiya, as a gift for executing paintings at Jetavanarama. Degaldoruwa sannasa (1786) shows that Degaldoruwa murals were done by Devaragampola Silvattana, assisted by Nilagama Patabanda of Balavatvala and Kosvatte Hittar Naide.

‘Tudapata’ is a land grant written on an ola leaf and signed by the Adhikarama on the orders of the king. Arattana Raja Maha Vihara tudapata shows that Wimaladharmasuriya I, Kirti Sri and Narendrasinha supported the vihara. Jiwan Naide of the Nilagama clan has a tudapata given to his ancestors by Kirti Sri for painting the cave temples at Dambulla, totaling 1893 square meters. They had painted temple murals elsewhere too, including Yapahuwa vihara. This tudapata also gives the history of Dambulla vihara.

Kobbekaduwe tudapata says that Kobbekaduwe vihara had been established as a private vihara for the queen of Buwanekabahu IV of Gampola. Vihara owned a large extent of highland and paddy. It had been offered to one monk by Senasammata and to another by Wimaladharmasuriya I. Kobbekaduwe Siri Nivasa of this vihara was the first monk to receive the higher ordination from Siamese bhikkhu Upali in 1753.

‘Lekam miti’ are registers listing the service lands liable for rajakariya and the services due from each. They provide a comprehensive list of land holdings. One lekam miti gave the land holdings in the eastern part of Nuwarakalaviya. There were several different types of lekam miti. The ‘Kat hal lekam,’ was for kada rajakariya. The ‘disava maha lekam pota’, kept at the valuvva, was a register of the villages in each disava. It listed the land tenure category of each village. The ‘Hi lekam mitiya’ was a smaller register of ploughed lands. there were several departmental registers such as ‘dunukara lekammitiya’ as well. The ninadagam officers had their own ‘valuvva lekam miti,’ and temples had theirs, such as the Dalada Maligawa’s ‘maligawa lekam miti. These registers had to be updated once every three years, or when a new king was crowned. They were used in land disputes cases.

Some lekam miti have survived into modern times. They include the ‘Matale maha lekam pota’ and the ‘Sabaragamu parani lekam mitiya’, compiled in 1619 and revised in 1790. Lekam miti are the best source for place names, noted Abeyawardana. They are better than the Dutch tombos for this. They carry the personal names prevailing in the Udarata as well. Lekam miti sometimes refer to significant political and religious events and help with the regnal dates of kings. ‘Walapane lekam miti’ showed that the Udarata kingdom was divided into 4 maha disawas, 8 disawas and 9 ratas. ‘Satara korale disa lekam pota hevat Maha lekam mitiya’ prepared in the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasinha has accounts of 44 well known villages, several shrines and personalities such as Leuke disava. Lekam miti also give the terminology used in land holdings. They show that the grain tax varied from korale to korale and that it was paid in coins, 'koku kasi.'

‘Kadaimpot’ are boundary books. Places, areas, administrative divisions, even paddy fields were listed and their boundaries given. They are written in colloquial Sinhala. Historical Manuscripts Commission found many kadaimpot in private collections. They had been preserved as family heirlooms. Some were published. The oldest available kadaimpot today is ‘Sri Lankadvipaye kadaimpota’ (Gampola period). Kadaimpot are unique to Sri Lanka, India does not have them, observed Abeyawardana. He also noted that Udarata writings in colloquial Sinhala as in kadaimpot and lekam miti have been neglected by historians.

At Padiyapelella, the Commission (est. 1931) found a kadaimpota (14th century) that spoke of Ruhunu, Maya, Pihiti with names of the ratas, and references to Kelaniya, Panadura, and Dambadeniya. ‘Sri Lankadipaye kadaimpota’ gave 115 ratas, within Maya, Ruhunu and Pihiti. Several kadaimpot provided place names and their derivations. ‘Maya rata kadimpota’ deals with 28 districts or towns in Maya rata. Clan names and boundaries of villages in Satara korale were given in another. One kadaimpota was a topographical survey of ‘Ceylon’s towns and villages,’ anther had a historical narrative of Sinhala kings from Vijaya and a third gave the Ravana story.

‘Matale maha disava lekam pota,’ which refers to the 1639 war, is contemporaneous with the period it discusses. It gives a historical and statistical account of Ceylon in time of Rajasinha II. It speaks of ‘Maha Matale’ and says Rajasinha II extended the Matale disawani to Trincomalee. An attempt was made in British times to get the old boundaries back. The kadaimpota tells that Padivita on Kandy Matale road was a market place, a boundary and a guard post. Padivita Bo tree was an important meeting place. When Atipola was made disawa in 1638 the proclamation was made there. Padivita paddy fields grew vegetables in Yala. The kadaimpota also mentions the planting of one of the 32 saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi at Rusigama.

‘Tri Sinhala Kadaimpota’ gives the Ruhunu, Maya, Pihiti boundaries in detail, mentioning the towns found in each and popular places of pilgrimage. The boundary of Pihiti rata starts from the bank of Mahavatuva tota of the Mahaweli, ferries of Hembarava, Angunatota, Weragantota and Kimbulgamtota, to Kemgall, then ferries of Kundasale ,Levella, Alutgantota, Palugantota then the new road leading to the river and ferry at Ranavana, then along the banks of the streams of Botota, Akurana, Kahavatta and the confluence of these three streams at Ambatenna, then Kirivatta ferry and Panagomu ferry at the confluence of the Delvita stream, past the ferry at Weligamkadulla bank on the crossing from Ridi vihara, above the pass at the ferry of Katugomu, and above the ferries of Ambagastota, Ganemankada, Budumutta, Giriulla, Namunuvatota, mouth of Daduru oya, upwards of the pass there, upwards of the Padi aramudala and of the Puttalam kotu aramudala ( fortress camp) and the forts of Arasadi, Mannar, Trincomalee and Jaffna. The text then says there are 4500 villages in Pihiti and lists the 18 main towns. The villages were divided into nine divisions, clustered into districts and sub district or pattus. These are named along with the siddasthana of Anuradhapura.

There are four documents used in the administration of justice. The ‘sittu’ were legal decrees written on palm leaves and signed by an adigar. The names of plaintiff and defendant, lands involved, decision arrived at and date and place where the case was heard are given. There were also ‘divi sittu’, oath decrees, decided by an ordeal like boiling oil,’vattoru’ containing lists of movable and immovable property ordered to be seized for various offences, and ‘vitti vattoru’ written statements made by witnesses. All these were plentiful in the 18 century, said Dewaraja.

The writings of H.A.P.Abeyawardana, Ananda Coomaraswamy, D.G.B. de Silva, Haris de Silva, L.S. Dewaraja, S. Kiribamune, G. Obeyesekere, P.E.Pieris and Ralph Pieris were used for this essay.

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