Wewalketiya Slab Inscription (වේවැල්කැටිය පුවරු ලිපිය)

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The Wewalketiya Slab Inscription (also written as Vevalketiya) is considered one of the most valuable inscriptions of the Anuradhapura Era. The pillar inscription is believed to have been placed by King Mahinda IV (956-972) and is 6 feet in height and 1.5 feet wide. 45 lines of text have been inscribed on this pillar.

The focal point of this inscription pertains to the administration of criminal justice within the dasa-gama of Kibi-nilam district in Amgam-kaliya, situated in the Northern Quarter of Rajarata. Consequently, it stands as a significant epigraphical record, offering valuable insights into Ancient Sri Lankan law regarding ‘crimes and wrongs,’ as well as shedding light on the administrative practices that likely prevailed on the island during the 10th and 11th centuries A.D.

This inscription documents the criminal law and their punishments during the 10th century. An interesting note is that this inscription demonstrates the treatment of animals during the era. The death penalty has been inscribed for murder, highway robbery and killing of cattle and goats. According to the content, the local rulers appointed by the king have been granted the powers to implement the laws.

Wewalkatiya Inscription was discovered in 1875 and read and published by D. M. De Zilva Wickremasinghe in 1912 in Epigraphia Zeylanica Volume 1. After the discovery of the Wewalkatiya Inscription, several inscriptions having the same decree were discovered in places such as Kahatagasdigiliya (1896), Dombavalgama (1898), Anuradhapura – Vessagiriya and Maluweyaya (1912), Hingurakgoda (1934), Kottapitiya on Naulla-Giritale Road (1949), Nathanar Kovil near Trincomalee (1953), Ilakkatu-Eba near Chilaw in ancient Maya-Rata (1969), Vannadi-Palama near Allai (1974), Karum-Puliyamkulam, near Vavunikkulam un Vavuniya District (1975), Seruvila Somapura near Allai Reservoir (1977), and Mi-Hondavana on the Kekirawa-Hammillewa Road (1984). Another one is at the Colombo National Museum. Although the text is not identical on these 14 inscriptions, but similar enough to consider duplicates or copies of each other (Ranawella, 2004).

Wickremasinghe identifies the King Siri Sangabo Abey mentioned in the inscription as King Mahinda IV (956-972) of the Anuradhapura Kingdom.

The site can be reached from Medawachchiya – Horowpathana road.

Complete Translation of the Wewalketiya Slab Inscription

Prosperity! On the tenth day of the first half of the lunar month of Uduvap (November. December), in the second year after raising the canopy (of dominion) by the Great King Sirisahgbo Abhayi, the son of the Great King Sirisahgbo Abha, who is descended from the royal dynasty of Okkika, the pinnacle of the Ksatriya clan, and who inherited by right of descent the earth of the Island of Lanka, the young damsel, the Chief Queen of the Ksatriya nobles. 

(1,) Raksa of Heluggama, (I,) Sena of Kada, (both) who are attached to the royal court of justice; (I,) Meykappar Lokehi of Kuburgama, (I,) Agbohi of Katira, and (I,) Kudasala Ravisen, we, the aforementioned Royal officials who came together in accordance with the order issued by the Supreme Council have instituted this decree to the effect that: should the tenants of the chieftains of each and every Dasagama of the Demel Veher Pamagiya in Kibindu-bima, Amgam-kuliya of the Northern Quarter (of Rajarata), and of the chieftains who have provided security to Kibi villages (therein), commit murder or highway robbery within the jurisdiction (of the Dasagama), after having arrested and detained the suspects in custody, the Elders of Dasagama shall sit in session and after deliberations have its proceedings recorded so that it could be produced later (if required), and punish the murderers with death and have the highway robbers hanged. 

(As to the stolen) property recovered from (them), the items, the ownership of which had been established, should be restored to the respective owners. 

If however, the Elders of Dasagama have (still) failed to arrest and detain (the accused persons), they shall apprehend (them) within forty-five days and have them punished [in the same way]. If they failed to find them within the (stipulated) period, one hundred and twenty-five kalandas of gold shall be paid to the royal family. 

If the offence is grievous hurt, (but not homicide) fifty kalandas of gold shall be levied (from the culprit) as wergild. Should this is not feasible (his) house shall be confiscated. 

If the alleged offender is not (arrested) and detained, fifty kalandas of gold shall be paid by the Dasagama to the royal family. A fine of fifty kalandas of gold shall be levied from a person who is (found guilty) of aiding and abetting (a criminal); if he is unable to pay (it), (his) house’ shall be confiscated. If he has no house (of his own), he shall be punished by cutting off (his) hands.

Fines collected from the offenders who were found guilty of the offence of assault (sihin-dad) and petty fines (sihin-dad) shall be divided among themselves by the headmen of the villages and the recipients of the pamagu grants in accordance with the former custom.

The killers of buffaloes, oxen, and goats shall be punished with death. Should (they) be stolen but not killed, after ascertaining the exact position, each (of the culprits) shal] be branded with marks on their bodies with a kasiliya and then be released. If the exact nature of the offence cannot be determined, the case shall be disposed of by beating the alleged offenders. The buffaloes, oxen, and goats transported from outside for sale (here), shall be purchased only after being duly identified and on security being provided. Those who have violated (these) ordinances shall be made to stand on heated iron sandals.

The tenants of the Dasagama shall observe without transgression the privileges associated with the adornment of ornaments during festivities and funerals as accorded to their respective families. Should there be a tenant who comes here after the date of the enactment of this statute in this Dasagama, he shall be duly identified and after having obtained surety on him he may be allowed to stay on. If there be any person who has entered this (Dasagama) after having committed an improper act (in his former village), although the surety has been provided he shall be sent back to the Elders of his former village to be dealt with by them.

Should the Elders of the Dasagama transgressed against the aforementioned matters’ (in the performance of their duties) they shall follow the directives given by the royal officers who come here annually for investigations. 

(Ranawella, 2004)

References

  1. Wickremasinghe, D.M. (1912) ‘VEVALKATIYA SLAB INSCRIPTION OF MAHINDA IV’ in Epigraphia Zeylanica : Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon – Volume I. London: The Government of Ceylon, pp.241–251.
  2. Ranawella, S. (2004) Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol V (part II). Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka, pp 172-183.

Also See

Map of Wewalketiya Slab Inscription

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Travel Directions to Wewalketiya Slab Inscription

Route from Anuradhapura to Wewalketiya Pillar Inscription
Distance : 45 km
Travel time :1 hour
Driving directions : see on Google map

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