With Drum-beats, Flags and Banners, he should establish signals for the divisions of the Army, -for dividing (them-selves) into sections, for joining together, for halting, for marching, for turning back  and for attacking.-  Kautiliya.


A direct reference to a carrier of Messages appears in text of  Dambedeniya Asanaya[ 13 Cent AD] as Lekam Balayo.

The ancient Book on warfare state that Each Division of the army shall its own distinguishing trumpet and Drum sound, flag and banners.

The fulfill the above requirement , Each different division had to have at least , their own distinguishable  6 different type Drum beats for the above  maneuvers .These instruments played a significant role in Command and Control of ancient Battles.
An examination of the village society in olden times would reveal that drums were used on special occasions during the life span of people, from their birth to the death. Drums, which were originally used, for pleasure and later for rituals, came to be used in the Buddhist Temples for the many ceremonies.

Drums  were also used as a means of communication through out  the history of the Sri Lankans. The Davula, Thammattama and the Bench Rabana have an important place in matters of communication. Perhaps Only two of these  drums  the  Davula and Thammattama was perhaps used  to pass on commands during battles. These were perhaps the two type of drum mentioned in Culavansa, and used during the battle of Nadibhandagama , during the 12 Cent AD.SINGAL SECTION

Pigeons used to convey messages.

The Kurullan Maduwa( Falcon mews and Aviary) during the Kandyan Period.



There was a Military road from Tissa to Pollonaruva and to Apura.Well marked used during many wars that was fought. Over 60 miles was paved with stone. and still exists called or marked Kalu-gal-bemma on Maps.Perhaps horse were used by messengers  to carry a Military Reports and the Lines of communications were kept open and changes of horse etc well planned out. They might as well be called  sit-reps. A situation report or a  story from a collection of these is in Mahavanasa Chapter 74 verse 50 onwards.

This was during Parakramabahu I expedition to subdue Ruhuna and capture the Relics.

Senapati Rakka leading his troops got bogged down at Divacandantabatava Forests due to seven inacessable fortification built there by Sugula Troops.. According to the description in the Mahawansa is forest is identified as in the neighbourhood of the present Hapola, 7 miles West-North- West of Bibile where the topography fits the description of the Chronicle. The description of the 7 lines fortress laid down by Queen Sugula’s troops,, entrechment, Thorns, cutting down of trees etc one to two Gavutas in extent , between two mountains is in the chronicle.

The king was on a sojorn at Pollonnaruva as per the Chronicle .He King heard from the mouth of the messengers of Rakka’s constant Battles , he gave orders to Adikaran Bhuta who dwelt at his palace

“ An indecisive struggle for so long a time with these wretched rebels is fitting neither for me nor for thee; smite in pieces according to these my orders the whole of the fortifications along with their gates, slay the whole of the numerous army an send me then speedily a True report of these doing


He assigned Bhuta numbers of soldier and sent this man experienced in art of war, to the scene of battle.Read below on rest of referances in Mahwansa

Beat of drums and Trumpets

There is an ensemble known as the hevisi, which includes a two drum combination used in Buddhist ceremony and also for secular reasons, such as to announce social functions. One drum is the davula (or dowla), a double-headed cylindrical instrument suspended horizontally from the waist and played with either sticks or hands. As it is comparatively easier to keep strict time with the drum it is also used in military bands for marching purposes.

The Tammattama, also known as the “twin drum”, is a double kettledrum, the companion drum of the Davula. The head of the right drum is larger and less taut than the left. Sound is produced by striking the heads with two curious sticks, the kaduppuva, which are curled into a loop at the striking end. Many kinds of split rhythms, variations and virtuoso drumming are possible on this drum. The English word “tom-tom”, synonymous in Western minds with indigenous drums both African and Asian, is derived from an onomatopoeic name prevalent in several languages of the region, such as the Sinhala tammattama. Indeed, in most of the 19th Century descriptions of Ceylon by colonial writers, indigenous drums are referred to as “tom-toms”. – See more at:

Two have two way communications to and for, each division of formation would have had there own section of Signalers. Each perhaps had their own beats to pass messages too and fro.The combine sounds of these two drums are now called Hevisi?.

The description of these two drums by Piyasara Shilpadhipathi, Senior Lecturer (Retired). University of Visual and Performing Arts.


This drum which is very important for the Sabaragamuwa Dance tradition has also a prominent place in the many ceremonies in Buddhist temples. It is much shorter than the Yak Bera and a significant feature in playing the drum is that the right side is played with a stick referred to as KADIPPU and the left with the hand. This is also the drum used in ANA BERA (for communication). The wood for it is taken from KITUL, EHELA, JAK, MILLA and KOHOMBA trees. According to early records this drum is said to have been turned out of the wood from the Red Sandalwood Trees. The body is decorated with paint and sometimes with silver and brass coverings. Such decorated drums could be seen at the famous Esala Festival in Kandy where the Sacred Tooth Relic is taken in procession. It is also customary for drummers to move in rhythmic patterns while playing the drum. In the Buddhist temples certain rhythms are played on this drum during the mornings, mid day and evenings and the villagers could easily identify the type of ceremony that is on at the time in the temple. Very often this drum is accompanied by the Thammattama (the twin drum).


This drum consists of two parts and while the high sounds are produced by the right one, low sounds are produced by the left one. Wood for these drums comes from KOHOMBA, EHELA and JAK trees. The drum is played with two sticks with circular ends and they are made of KADURU. THAMMATTAMA is generally not played with equal pressure. There are special rhythms played on this drum. E.g.: to invite people in to the temple, invite Buddhist priests for

What evidence we have of the instrument  are only  the Reference in Mahavamsa  and other ancient text . the Chapter and verse numbers where the Drums were used in Battle and for Military Parades are below.

5.67; King Dutugemunu proclaimed with the beat of Drums “ None but me shall slay Elara”, out side the gates of Anuradhapura.


70. 227; Paarakramabahu I armed the Vyandhas[Veddha Fighter with Spears and Drums .

74.222; Use of Drum in a parade with the army.

The Davula and  Tammattama

The Davula and Tammattama

75. 104; Drums and Kettle Drums on the attack at Nadibhandagama by Rakka a General of Parakramabahu I.
76. 161; “ With a Thousands of Fish namely the Glittering Swords, with hundreds of waves, namely the Horses, with the Mass of water namely the Infantry, with the line of surf namely the Umbrella[rank of officers],with the flowing of the streams, namely the Arrows, with the Clamorous din of Drums filled the whole Battlefield…”. The Sinhala Army in South India against King Kulasekera.
85. 114; Use of Drum at  Parades where the Army participated.

96.15 ; Rajasinghe II Attack the

Chanks or Conch Shell [Trumpets] used   in Battle and Ceremonial purposes.
25. 65; Pussadeva and his Conch Shell  of Victory at the end of the siege of Vijithapura.
65.27; Herald the arrival of Prince Prakrama at Senpathi Sankha
Fortress at Bathalagoda.
66.32; Sounded when When King Parakramabahu calls for his Sinhala Sword
72.119; “The din of five loud clanging shell trumpets”-Parakramabahu I
General fights many battles.
74.222; Conch shells in a perhaps a Military Parades.
85.113; Parades. Parakramabahu II
88. 75; Chandrabanu’s Conch shell of Victory captured.
89. 46

Flags and Banners.
70. 225;
88. 75,

By the  way, well marked grave of Pussadeva  the famous Conch shell blower is by the roadside on the way to Uda-walave just before the Sankapala Temple. There is an inscriptions of his and a Conch shell engraved on the rock inside the Vihare. Pussadeva may well be the one who gave the signal of victory.
This may be a site to visit, like the Cavalryman Statue at Isurumuniya , which is lately recognized is perhaps of King Pandukabaya and his Mare

Chapter 74.69 King Parakramabahu I gives orders to Adikaran[ rank of orp Commander] Bhuta.   ”………… …….smite in pieces according to these my orders the whole of the fortification with there gates and slay the whole of the army and Send me then speedily reports of their doing..”

There are many references to  carrying of reports messages to and fro  in Battles in our ancient text.

Chapter 74.69 King Parakramabahu I gives orders to Adikaran[  Ancient rank of Corp Commander] Bhuta”………… …….smite in pieces according to these my orders the whole of the fortification with there gates and slay the whole of the army and  Send me then speedily reports of their doing..”

 According to the ancient book on Military Activities that were available to ancient Kings and still available to us, the instructions  were

General Anton Mutukumaru , in his book- Military History of Ceylon –an Outline  sums up above

“A word is necessary to mention the place of the Conch, drum and Flag all these have significance because of the part they play in the inter-communications and control. The Conch and the drum would be utilized  in wooded country. Apart from their use for control in movement and inter-communication the conch and the drum had  their special function on the battle-field , for instance, in rallying troops that have got into dis-array or in forming them prior charge  or assault. The Flag, rather like the Colours or Guidons  in British military usage was used as a rallying  point on the  battle-field. In this setting, the Umbrella of the King or General  as the case may be.  The  special  significance -because the capture of the flag was taken  as an admission of defeat. The umbrella bearer had a special role in a situation of this sort. At the end  of Battle ,the conch and drum would be used to signal victory whilst the conch, drum and flag became used extensively in the victory march of triumphant leader into the  capital of the vanquished foe. ‘


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