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elephants' heads which project at the Anuradhapura dāgabas. The most ancient of these are works of the second century B.C., a date which proves the possibility of the early age of the carving of the soldier. Metallic armour was used in India in the Vedic period and is several times mentioned in the Rig Veda. It is not unlikely, therefore, that it was employed in Ceylon in late pre-Christian or early post-Christian times by those who could afford to purchase it, or to whom it was supplied by the sovereign. The Helmet is mentioned in the Rig Veda (x, 105, 5).

There are some weapons in the British Museum which I have not seen in Ceylon. One (Fig. 215) is a form of Bident, having a wide crescent-shaped iron head with sharp points but no cutting edge, fitted by a long socket onto the end of a shaft about seven feet in length, which is thicker towards the base than at the head.

Another (Fig. 216) has a narrow blade about sixteen inches long, fixed at the side of a shaft or staff four feet six inches long, which passes through four projecting sockets or rings that are welded to the back of the blade at equal distances. The blade ends in two points which are turned back against the handle. It may have been copied from weapons used by the Portuguese soldiers.

A third weapon (Fig. 184) ends in a sharp-pointed head below which is a transverse spike that forms a cross with it and the round socket into which the shaft, about six feet long, is fitted. The shaft is decorated with coloured lac. A similar weapon was used in Europe in the Middle Ages, and was termed a Marteau, according to M. Lacombe (Boutell, Arms and Armour).

As I could obtain no description of two ancient weapons that are said to have been employed in former times in Ceylon, I am unable to say if any of these arms are referred to under their names. One is the Baendi-wala, which is perhaps connected with the Tamil word for a sword or saw, väl, though an implement called a Benḍuwala is described in Clough's Dictionary as a spear or priest's razor. By some persons Vishnu is said to be armed with a weapon of the former name,

which is shown in a rude drawing of him made on Talipat leaf for me by a ' Bali-tiyannā,' or priest who officiates against planetary influences, as being of a meander shape with two curls.

The other is the Tomara, apparently a sort of Javelin ; in Sanskrit the word means a javelin, and in Tamil a javelin or club, according to Winslow. It is stated that steel or iron filings were used in some way in their manufacture.

The Billhook is described among the articles included in the next category.

With the aid of references in Indian and Greek works to the soldiers employed in early India, we may form some idea of the armament and organisation of the military forces of Ancient Ceylon. The regular troops were probably very far from being an undisciplined body. Although the wooded nature of the country did not lend itself to the free use of either chariots or cavalry, there can be no doubt that the services of both were utilised to some extent. Elephants were also employed, and there were several classes of footsoldiers.

The chariots used in war were probably drawn by two horses, like those illustrated in the Sānchi carvings; three or four-horse chariots were, however, to be found in India, and may have been used by the richer classes in Ceylon, though perhaps not in battle. Following the Indian fashion, some may have been decorated with leopard skins. Each chariot carried a driver, and one or two 1 combatants who were armed with bows 2 and swords, and had bucklers. All the occupants, and possibly to some extent the horses, were protected by mail or leather armour. We have no representation of the appearance of these cars of Ceylon; according to the Greek description, those used in India had sitting accommodation for their occupants 1but at Sanchi the persons shown in them are standing. King Mahā-Naga of Tissa is described in the Dhatuvansa as presenting Mahākāla, the

1 Rig Veda, vi, 20, 9. Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, by McCrindle, pp. 89, 90.

2 The Jātaka, No. 529 (Translation, Vol. v, p. 133).

son of a wealthy man, with a car suitable for four persons, satara deneku yedu rathayak. There must have been seats in such a carriage.


The carving at the Isurumuniya temple proves conclusively that in early and possibly pre-Christian times an organised force of cavalry was in existence, the men having a showy helmet with long plumes which hung down the back like those of the Greeks. Some also may have worn the shining armour,' or breast-plate that was used in India.1 Leather armour was provided for the horses, and in India a high hair plume was fixed on the head of each, between the ears.3 In the second or third century B.C. the men rode without saddles, a skin rug being perhaps employed instead; one person at Amarāvati is riding bare-back, however (Slab No. 41). In the second century A.D. padded saddles were clearly represented at Amaravati, and probably would be used in Ceylon.

The horse was controlled by single reins held by the left hand, and fastened to a head-stall to which an iron bit was attached, having in the time of Arrian short spikes fitted in a disk at each end outside the lips, but not so delineated at Sanchi or Amaravati, or Anuradhapura. The riders apparently carried bucklers, and were armed with a sword and bow; some may have been lancers, as in India. Part of this cavalry force doubtless constituted the king's bodyguard.

The Archers formed the chief branch of the regular footsoldiers and the mainstay of the army. In India their bodies were protected by mail or leather armour, and some at least carried a straight sword at their left side, enclosed in a leather scabbard, and slung by a scarf or belt which passed round the right shoulder." They also had shields, some of which, like

1 The Jataka, No. 233 (Vol. ii, p. 232).

2 The Jātaka, No. 23 (Vol. i, p. 61).

3 Amaravati carvings.

4 McCrindle, Ancient India, p. 221.

5 The Jātaka, No. 529 (Vol. v, p. 132).

The Jataka, No. 522 (Vol. v, p. 67). 7 Amaravati carvings.

those in India, may have been narrow and elongated.1 The Sākya kings would be likely to give special attention to the archery, and Arrian's remarks on the efficiency of the Indian bow-men may have been to some extent applicable to those of Ceylon, as we see by the account in the Mahavansa of the prowess of Phussa-dēva, the champion archer of DuṭṭhaGāmiņi. Arrian said, 'there is nothing which can resist an Indian archer's shot-neither shield nor breast-plate, nor any stronger defence if such there be.' 1

In Ceylon this force probably consisted chiefly of Vaeddas. As they lived at Anuradhapura in such numbers that the early annalist made special reference to their share in the residential arrangements of the city, it is extremely likely that their services as archers would be utilised by the early Sinhalese sovereigns in their military forces, just as at a later time Parakrama-Bāhu I employed them. They must have formed a great part of the army with which Paṇḍukābhaya gained the throne, or their chiefs would not have afterwards occupied the prominent position accorded to them by that monarch. Malalu Vaeddan, 'Archer Vaeddas' are mentioned in the fifteenth century.

Other foot-soldiers were Spear-men, some of whom also carried swords; a third branch of the infantry consisted of those who were armed only with the Keteriya, or the Broad Axe; and a fourth was formed of men who carried a straight sword and a buckler or shield.2


We may picture to ourselves regiments of each of these four classes of foot-men, each bearing its distinctive banner, and possibly even trained to march in step in regular ranks, and perform evolutions, like the Egyptian, and Assyrian, and Greek infantry; they would be commanded by the young chiefs of the country. In later times, and perhaps early times also, the Sinhalese national flag bore the device of a standing lion with its near fore-leg raised; that of Madura, according to temple artists, was a cock.

1 McCrindle. Ancient India, p. 221. Ridi Wihāra panels.

2 Ridi Wihāra panels and Welana Damana relief.

3 I have seen a photograph of a carved stone at Buddha Gayā with a similar lion on it; I do not know its age.

Arrian described the state of the regular soldiers in India as follows; and it is to be remembered that the remarks refer to the very district from which the Gangetic settlers came to Ceylon: The fifth caste among the Indians consists of the warriors, who are second in point of numbers to the husbandmen, but lead a life of supreme freedom and enjoyment. They have only military duties to perform. Others make their arms, and others supply them with horses, and they have others to attend on them in the camp, who take care of their horses, clean their arms, drive their elephants, prepare their chariots, and act as their charioteers. As long as they are required to fight they fight, and when peace returns they abandon themselves to enjoyment-the pay which they receive from the state being so liberal that they can with ease maintain themselves and others besides.' 1

The Elephants constituted a valuable portion of the Sinhalese army. They were carefully protected by leather armour, 2 and carried two or three combatants in addition to the driver. These appear to have been armed with the bow and the sword, and sometimes the javelin. They wore either mail or leather armour. There is no statement of the number of elephants employed for warlike purposes in Ceylon; it must have been small compared with the immense herds of the Indian armies, in one of which, that of Magadha, Megasthenes reported that nine thousand were used.

The animals were so numerous in Ceylon that in time of war every chief would be called upon to send some to the king for transport purposes, if not for actual fighting. The king himself would certainly maintain a large trained force of them in connection with his standing army, as well as for ceremonial use in processions, and we find the royal elephant stables of the third century B.C. referred to in the Mahavansa. While all the foregoing branches of the permanent army must have practised a regular drill and been kept in a state of some degree of efficiency, the untrained levies of villagers 1 McCrindle. Ancient India, p. 221. 2 The Jataka, No. 80 (Vol. i, p. 205). 3 McCrindle, loc. cit. pp. 89, 90.

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