WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka


Yapahuwa -The Chinese connection


The Yapahuwa rock and its surrounding area became the capital of the island for a short time in the 13th z_p33-yapahuwa1.jpg (24021 bytes)century. It is known that King Buvanaikabahu 1 (1273-1284) made this rock, rising loftily out of the outskirts of Kurunegala his capital. There is no mention of anything about Yapahuwa beyond 13th century in Sri Lankan historical sources.

But the latest archaeological excavations performed in Yapahuwa tells us that the kingdom had very close diplomatic relationship with China during the 13th century.

Surveys were carried out from time to time by the Archaeological Department since 1900. But more methodical and scientific survey for Yapahuwa area was a pressing need, said the Director General of Archaeology Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala.

Therefore an archaeological team headed by Dr. Senarath Dissanayake started their voyage of Yapahuwa excavation for the first time last year December.

The first archaeological excavation at Yapahuwa has done by the H.C.P. Bell, who was the first archaeological commissioner (1810-1811). Special monuments had been discovered at that time. According to the reports magnificent types of palace entrances (visithuru sopanas) were found by H.C.P. Bell during his excavations.

z_p33-yapahuwa2.jpg (14210 bytes)"We found a number of new pebbles at last year's excavations. There were 24 new stones. Also some strong evidences were gathered from the six acres of flat land on the Yapahuwa rock. It has pre-historic (from 1,000 B.C. to 500 B.C.) or early historic (from 500 B.C. to 200 AD.) human settlements and it is the earliest such settlement be found on a rock. Furthermore, the evidence reveals that it was not a rural settlement but somewhat urban type of settlement," Dissanayake said.

"During the excavation period, we were able to gather strong archaeological evidence to show that this city have had close connections with China. But it is not known when such Sino - Yapahuwa relationship was originated. There are some evidences which would help to establish that Yapahuwa had dealings with the far east during the period about of 2-3 centuries of Christian era.

Whether Yapahuwa had much earlier relationship with China will be disclosed by further archaeological surveys", he pointed out. "However, there are number of facts to show that there was relationship between Yapahuwa and China during the short period it became the capital of the island (in the latter part of 13th century). By the early excavations at Yapahuwa several Chinese ceramics were found which were among the finest ceramics found in the island. A large number of celadan pottery parts were also found.

The largest number of Chinese coins found from Yapahuwa also enhanced the Chinese relationship with Yapahuwa. During H.C.P. Bell's excavation, he had found 12 Chinese coins and in 1949 a total number of 1310 Chinese coins were discovered," he said.

Further surveys would provide better insight into what may have been a very strong trade and diplomatic link between the two countries.

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka