20 September 2009
Taprobane to Ceylon
Sri Lanka has a long history and most prominently it has one of the longest written histories in the world. Throughout the time Sri Lanka was known by many names by different countries and historians.
The king Vijaya, a prince from Wanga Desha (probably West Bengal) named this land, ‘Thambapanni’. Subsequently he became the first recorded king of the island. As per the chronicles he landed here in 543 BC.
Later in the 2nd century AD, the Greek mathematician, Ptolemy marked this country as ‘Taprobane’ in his famous world map. The Taprobane he mentioned was quite bigger, yet the unmistakable location clarifies that he wanted to show Sri Lanka in the map.
Later on, the Arab merchants (as well as Persians) used to call this country as ‘Serendib’. Also there are records that Chinese called Sri Lanka as Si-Lan. The 14th century explorer Marco Polo, visited Sri Lanka and he went on to record that he found many pearls and precious stones in the Island of Seylan.
Since, 16th century AD, many European nations ruled Sri Lanka partially and later on the British controlled the entire country for more than a century (1815 – 1948). The Portuguese the first of the European nations who invaded, called the country Celao and subsequently Zeilan by the Dutch. The British named this island as Ceylon and it was used during major part of the 20th century until it was officially changed to ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1972.
To read more about Sri Lanka click here.
The picture above shows a moonstone, a typical stepping stone found in many Sri Lankan temples. To learn more about them read this post by Harumi.