Thursday, May 27, 2004

Tamil Social Formation in Sri Lanka: A Historical Outline - Dr. P.Raghupathy (5)

Tamil Settlements in the Vanni Districts, Eastern Province and in the

10th - 16th Century A.D.

The Chola empire and the subsequent developments had a great impact on the demography of Vanni, East and Northwest. Especially the East was in the
limelight under the Cho1as, probably due to their activities in the Bay of
Bengal. Tamil inscriptions of this and subsequent periods are found concentrated in the East upto Tirukkoyil in the down south. Mass migrations of clans were a common phenomenon in the Vijayanagar South India, and their impact was felt in Sri Lanka too. Vanni, East and the Northwest have their own literary records narrating the settlements that arose in this period. The settlers ranged from agriculturists to traders, artisans, mercenaries and fisher folk. The indirect impact of the Vijayanagar empire prevented the political advent of Islam. But, since the early centuries of this millennium, Muslim settlements came up in the coastal areas known for maritime trade contacts. In the Tamil homeland now they are a considerable population in Mannor, Mattakka!appu, Jaffna city and Putta!am, in the Northwest (which was part of the Tamil homeland till recent decades). The language of the Muslims in Sri Lanka whether in the Tamil homeland or in the rest of Sri Lanka is Tamil. They either migrated from the Coromandel
coast and the coastal areas of the Gulf of Manner, Malabar etc., or were natives converted to Islam.

The Portuguese and Dutch Periods - Jaffna Centric Socioeconomic Developments
16th - 18th Century A.D.

The Portuguese' and Dutch_aintained the kingdom of Jaffna as a separate unit. Jaffna witnessed corlsiderable economic growth under the Dutch due to certain specialized industries and trade. This paved a way to the Jaffna-centric spcial a_d cultuxoldevelopments in subsequent times. Towards the end of the Dutch rule, religious and linguistic revival took place which created a place for Jaffna not only to lead the Tamil homeland but also to be in a position ahead of the then Tamil South India in certain spheres of cultural achievements.

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