"Sri Lankan SHIPS? Don’t be mad! They never went to sea!"
That’s the Great Colonial Myth: “The Sinhalese people never looked towards the sea and the navigators…were always foreigners. The outriggers themselves are of foreign origin…” This is the Myth - articulated above by Auguste Toussaint – which this web site will try to make you, gentle reader, think again.
There was pretty little these early (and not so early) writers, with Eurocentric attitudes towards all things, knew about us. A few scholars were learning from scratch, seeking information. Colonial officials and Missionaries articulated the Myth sneeringly. They did not understand that all modern Sri Lankan peoples – Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Javanese, or Burghers – all came here by sea. We all loved it here, but we never forgot the sea. We sailed: everywhere - from Rome, to China (the Alpha and Omega of the then-known world) - but those voyages are not what this site is about. This site is about the Ships: those we evolved built and sailed till they became redundant by 1940. Only the most ancient types yet remain. We have been researching them and it is time to put our – at least my own – work for discerning scholars of an open-minded generation of scholars to read and make use of.
But this web site is not merely research, but also a personal tribute to the “Lost Ships of Sri Lanka” and for the “Mariners, Merchants and Monks” who sailed on them.
(....and , of course, it also is about the Navy, Maritime Archaeology, Fiction, Family and the things I hope to leave for posterity)