Weapons Race copy


Ie Vaduvo

The three volume of the Mahawansa devotes 3 Chapters of 863 strophes to Dutugamini Abaya[ ] , the first chapters [ No ] of 277 stropes is devoted to his Levying of troops by King kavantissa, the next to the battles with Prince Saddaissa and the third to the Conquest of Rajarata from king Elara. 200 stropes and three chapters devoted to Vijayabahu I where his battles to secure the Ruhuna and, an entire chapter 58 is devoted to preparation for war. 2527 stropes to Parakramabahu to describes all his wars to unify the country including his conquests in Burma and South India of which a whole Chapter 69 to describe his military preparations. This chapter deals reorganizing of the Ministries ,collecting of funds , recruiting of troops and manufacture of War material in the various districts of the Island.

The Most famous Craftswomen,

The Most famous Craftswomen,

The history of the Craftsman of Sri Lankan can be traced back to the arrival of Vijeya and 700. Nothing is available about the skilled craftsman of the Yaksha, Naga and Raksha that may have turned out the Spinning wheels, such as that of Kuveni. No evidence of the presence of skilled tradesmen in 700 men who accompanied Vijeya when he arrived in Sri Lanka with the five weapons[The Sword, the Bow, battle Axe, Spear and the shield] [ as mentioned in Mahavansa Chapter VII strope 10-18].
The first mention of thousand Craftsman families of eighteen guilds was in the party that accompanied the Princess for Vijeya who arrived from Mathura and landed at Mahatitta[ Mantota].

VISVAKARMA Is the patron deity of all craftsmen, the great over – craftsmen of the Universe. He is not worshipped , but all craftsmen are inspired by him as perhaps the accumulated knowledge and skill of ages, which reveals the beauty, rhythm, proportion, idea etc that all craftsmen seek in completing a product. " Salutation I give to Visva-karma, the fair and great, who is renowned and free, who hath five tilaka-marked faces,Ten arms, holding a book  and writing style,  a sword, an adze (lit, a club), a citron, a cup, a water-pot, a rosary, a cobra (about his neck),a Noose, hands betokening  sternness and beneficence (one closed and  one open) and wearing a golden sacred thread”,

VISVAKARMA Is the patron deity of all craftsmen, the great over – craftsmen of the Universe. He is not worshiped , but all craftsmen are inspired by him as perhaps the accumulated knowledge and skill of ages, which reveals the beauty, rhythm, proportion, idea etc that all craftsmen seek in completing a product.
” Salutation I give to Visva-karma, the fair and great, who is renowned and free, who hath five tilaka-marked faces,Ten arms, holding a book and writing style, a sword, an adze (lit, a club), a citron, a cup, a water-pot, a rosary, a cobra (about his neck),a Noose, hands betokening sternness and beneficence (one closed and one open) and wearing a golden sacred thread”,



The descendants of the these craftsman may have made the weapons for Prince Pandukabaya to raise the first battalion of 500 for a budget of 100,000 Silver pieces[Mhv Chapter X strope 24]. This short paragraph in the Mahawansa gives a brief description of the Budget of raising troops , the earliest enrollment of 500 foot soldiers and the Support forces of strength of 700 who also was responsible for the required Provision for this small army.
“He gave him a hundred thousand (pieces of money) to enroll soldiers and when five hundred men had been enrolled by him (he said): `The (woman) at whose touch leaves turn to gold make thou thy queen, and my son Canda thy chaplain.’ When he had thus said and given him money he sent him forth from thence with his soldiers. Proclaiming his name he, the virtuous prince, fared forth and when in the city of Paia near the Kasa-mountain he had gathered together seven hundred followers and provision for all, he went thence, followed by one thousand two hundred men to the mountain called Ginkanda”

The Mahavansa[ Culavamsa ] in Chapter 70 paragraph 56 describing war preparations of Parakramabahu I[1153-1186 AD].
” With careful consideration of the work profitable for the carrying out the war, such as the text books Koatalla[ Kautalaya] the Yuddhannava and others, He versed in the procedures of war, worked out with ingenuity in way according with the locality and the time, the plan of campaign [ Yuddhopaya] , wrote it down, had it handed out to the officers and gave the order.
The books Yuddhannava and others are now lost, but we have the copy of Arthsastra mentioned above. The procedures to plan the war campaign from the Arthasastra clearly mentions the Organizational Structure of an Ancient Armies
“In additions to Commander of the Foot, Elephant, Cavalry and Chariots [all Combatants] , a Chief of Ordnance all coming under the ovrall commander or chief of Defence the Senapati. In addition there was a Contingent that accompanied the army to do support jobs.
The functions of the Contingent were maintaining camps, Roads, embankments or fortifications , well and fording places, carrying machines, weapons, armour, implements , provisions, removing weapons, armour and the wounded from the Battle field.
There are also three types of professions in the defense services, Yodha and Ayudhiya, the Chikitsaka the Army Doctors and Yantrika the Army Technicians”.

Generally the funding and logistic support for the army was not separated from those of civilian affairs. This is apparent from the statement of Parakramabahu the Great in 12 Cent AD in chapter 69 strope 29 where he created two chief ministers one Ministry of War and another for Internal Administration. The earlier Kings perhaps maintained the duties of the administration of warfare under the Chief Treasurer or Badagarika. The treasury was the Royal Store house. He had many types of store houses. Other than those to store money and high value items, the Chief Treasurer had the responsibility of maintaining warehouses for as the Granary, Forest Products, an Armoury etc. This was a very important position in the ancient Sri Lanka. The fact that Prince Gotabaya heldthis post during Sirisambabodi I rule in .Gotabaya challenged the power while holding this position and captured power.

Ancient Stor-keepers
The stores were in charge of Kostagarika, many of them appear of Rock Inscriptions of ancient Sri lanaka. The War materials including rations for soldiers were stocked and maintained by various Superintendent of Stores [ Kostagarikas], as mentioned in Chanaka or Kuatilliya’s , ancient Indian book Arthasastra. The Mahavansa states that Vijeyabahu I, too used this book in their Military preparations. Arthasastra names the duties of the Army Commander, those of the Superintendents [Commanders] of the Cavalry, the Elephant Corp , the Chariots and the Infantry. Along side them is the duties of the Superintendent or perhaps the then equivalent of Master General of Ordnance. The same practice prevailed into the 1950’s or still prevails on paper, where the Government Stores were and is still under the Treasury. The Sri lankan Army Ordinance Corp was dependent of the Government Stores, until their function slowly taken over by the Army and the other departments.
Earlier to this period during late Anuradhapura period the term Badagarika is not mentioned but those doing the fuction of was known as maha-lekhaka or Mahela who was in charge of the two treasuries Kulatsam – arub and Pittasam arub[ Inner and Outer treasuries].The Mahelas as mentioned in chronicles, have functioned as Commanding officers of the army and have led troops in to battle. The mahela Arakamanas that figures in Pillar Inscriptions may have had to full-fill both treasury duties as well as leading troops during times of war. The Kundasala was a building in which Kings store houses were in the 17th Cent.
During Parakramabahu period he ordered his Lekhaka vagga [ Auditors]to make an estimate of the Kings revenue, of his stocks of grain, of his troops, of his various war materials and so on CV Chapter 66 verse 154-155.During Polonnaruva period the Royal treasurer was known as bhandara-pot.

Reviewing the Mahavansa and the Rasavahani., H Ellawala suggests that Velusumana who fought on horse back was the Commander of the Cavalry, and Labhiya-vasabha a famous fighter of Elephants the Commander of the Elephant Corp, while Nandamitta, Suranimala and Dathasena were expert Swordsmen and Phussa deva came from a family of Archers lead the Foot soldiers. The rest of the warriors who had exceptional strength may have been experts in use of the Spears and the Clubs,
The list of battles fought by the rest of Kings , their Senapatis[ the Commanders] , the commanders of the respective divisions , is described in fair detail the ancient texts like the Mahawansa. Inscriptions on rock from the 4 Cent BC compliment some exploits of that Kings and many of their commanders. Cammander of the Cavalry

There were many Superintendent of Store along with those Army Generals and Superintendents in Charge of Calvary who are recorded as to have held these prestigious position are found on 2-1 Cent BC Inscriptions of the Island, one such name found on Inscription, we could possibly also associated with War Materials was Sumana is shown below

Craftsman of ancient Times


1. To Establish factories and staff them expert craftsmen in the manufacture of all military equipment.
2. To Manufacture all weapons and Machines used by 4 fold force in Battle, in Storming of Forts, Defending the Forts established by his king.
3. To Manufacture Armour and Accoutrements for horses and elephants
4. To Manufacture and Supply these equipment at the correct time.
5. For Proper payment and accounting of all of the above ventures.

1. Labeling the equipment brought in, having them be stamped with the King’s seal. They be stored in suitable locations.
2. Maintenance by exposing the weapons to sun and wind to prevent deterioration.
3. Maintenance of equipment which is susceptible for deterioration by heat, moisture or insects.
4. Ensure safety and accounting of all equipment and shall be fined double the value of equipment lost or damaged through negligence.
5. Collecting of the weapons after battle and returning to stocks or future use after repairs.
6. Record keeping the weapon destroyed.
7. To periodically inspect all equipment for Quality, Serviceability, Quantity, place of manufacture. Cost of manufacture and to ensure proper storage method are adopted.
8. He should estimate the demand for each type of weapon and ensure the supply is met adequately.
9. He shall ensure the distribution of weapons to the correct place at the correct time.
10. He should estimate the cost of replenishment of all weapons depending the wear and tear and losses in Battle.
These task of manufacture , repair and maintenance of Military equipment was separated from the rest, only during the World War II and the task was handed over the newly formed. There is much written of the skilled Craftsman who performed these tasks in the ancient armies.



The profession of the Army is divided into [Chapter 10.3.43 and 47 of the Arthasastra] Yodha –Warrior, Ayudhiya -Armed Personnal, Chikitsaka[ Medical and Yantrika – Technical.
Sri Lanka has a few of these Yantrikas or the skilled tradesman who may have had skills to manufacture the Weapons, Armour and Accoutrements required by the Superintendent of the Warlike Equipment.
One of the most famous craftsmen was Vatuka a city craftsmen who reigned for a year two months, after he had poisoned the Siva a palace guard, by the nymphomaniac Queen Anula.( Chapter XXXIV Mahawansa).
“When the palace-guard, whose name was SIVA, and who (had been) the first of the commander of the gate, had made ANULA his queen he reigned a year and two months in the city; but Anulä, who was enamoured of the Damila VATUKA, did him to death with poison and gave the reign to VATUKA. The Damila VATUKA, who had been a city-carpenter in the capital, made ANULA his queen and then reigned a year and two months in the city.

Shown below is few ancient Inscription of the period 3 Cent BC to 1 Cent AD of a manufacturer of Bows, an Armourer, Three Copper Smiths and an Iron Smith.

Prassana Weerakody comments

“I think however that in observing the Kandyan Royal Workshops system the weapon is ideally placed to have been made there. The different workshops included~

1. Master Sword makers.
2. Gold and Silver artisans.
3. Specialist Carvers of horn and bone (Rhino)
4. Eye-make-up specialists. Mentioned because great emphasis was applied to this as an art form and the treatment of the eyes of the Kastane hilt are notable…likely to have attracted the attention of another group of specialists~
5. Specialists in semi precious and precious stones.
6. Specialist metalworkers … For the Scabbard.”.

Read more about the Sword of Sinhala


Recent excavations of ancient foundries and the presence of large amounts of slag, the remnants or by products of Iron and steel industry, indicates the production of weapon of the highest quality by our artificers of the past. The analysis of the Steel and Iron produced in Sri Lanka shows that they were of the highest quality steel, with much higher Carbon content and with less Phosperous and Sulphur than any steel of the ancient world.
The reason for this is the Linear wind driven furnaces, with a much higher temperature in the smelting process practiced by our Smelters [Yamaaos,Archaries].

The furnace

Smelting Iron-Sammanala Weva

The Dambedeniya Period Army that defeated the Kalinga Maga’s army in the 13 Cent AD according to the Dambedeniya Asnaya consisted of 990 Elephants and 890 Cavalry and 900 Bowmen ,supporting 24 divisions of Foot Soldiers 25,000 strong, they had 12,000 strong Tamil Soldiers .They also had 900 strong Division of Technicians, 790 workmen or Pioneer Unit and other unit of assorted trades of 800.This book gives a full list of Officers of the Service Corp.
The Treasurer is called Bandara Nayaka and the Chief Store- Keeper is called Gabada- nayaka
The Technicians mentioned are Anduvaduva[ Pincer makers ], Liyana Vaduva[ Carvers ], Ie Vaduva [ Arrow makers].
The last king who unified the Island King Parakramabahu VI of Kotte was brought up by a Blacksmith until the age of 16.[ Rajavaliya].


The responsibility was with the Maha Aramudale Vannaka Nilame, the royal treasurer , under him was the Maha Gabada Nilame-the Steward of the the Royal Stores, there was a Commander of the Ordanace called Awudage Wanakku Nilame. The Arcari or Navandanno was a guild of Artificers of the Kandyan Period
There were 14 Baddes or Department of Public Works during the Kandyan period. Most of the Artificers / Tradesmen were mainly in Department known as the Kottal-badde. There was a kottal –badde for each district , in which most of the artificers in that district controlled .The chief officer was known Kottal bade Nilame who was appointed by the King, in the Disavaniyas the Disave’s also performed the duties of the Kottal bade Nilame and a Lieutanant known as Kotal bade vidane appointed by the Disava to assist him in this task.

Royal Armoury in Kandyan Kings Palace.
The organizations of the Kottal badde of Four Korales , one of Disave;s consisted of the following Artificers.
1. Seven Vaduvo who –performed all the carpentry for the Kings and the Dissava’s. They were organized in a Central Workshop known as the Dandu Maduva[Timber yard].
2. Five Liyana Vaduvos or Turners.
3. Five Sittaru or Painters.
4. Fourteen Iee-vaduvo [Arrow makers] men of the Royal Armoury, who made the Bows, Arrows, Spears,Staves or Clubs, and gauded them with Lac; these were.
5. Fourteen Attapattu –Karayas who furnished the fine work and principally employed in inlaying the Locks and other tools and equipment. Two of them worked in the Royal Armoury those who worked on Muskets, Cannons, Knifes, Swords etc .There small a small section that was called Rankadu pattala or the Golden Sword Armoury.
6. Six badallu, two of the them worked in the Royal Armoury they did the Silver, Gold and Copper or Brass work on the weapons.
7. Gal waduva-or masons –mainly responsible for erection of fortifications etc in case of war.
8. Twenty Mul acari or blacksmiths who These provided Knifes, and perhaps weapons to the Dissava’s.
9. Ten Disava Acari worked for Disavas only in above 9 trades.

The best of the Craftsmen working immediately for the King formed a largely hereditary corporation of Craftsmen called Pattal – hatara [ Four Workshops]. There was another set of craftsmen who performed Kottal Badde they formed a relay of working for the King for a period of 2 months under a Mul-acariya belonging to the Pattal-Hatara.
This is not much different to the present organization, in the 1950’s, the Sri Lankan army got most of spares from the Government Stores and also got the assistance of the Government workshops. During the Ellam war, when the land mine became a problem, the Government workshops , along with the others assisted us in building Blast proof Vehicles.


Vaduvo. Those who turned out the Chariots, Carts used in war or the equipment , mainly out of wood,the weapons were pointed or had Sharpe edges of steel, copper etc.
Here Wood-turner OR  Ivory turner lathe.


Cubit Rule- Riyan lella.
Plumb line-Lamba Ketiya
Line or tape-Nul-lanuva
Set square –Mattan poruva
Compass- Kava-katuva.
Sledge hammer-Kulugediya
Small adaze –ata-veya
Mallet- At koluva
Tennon – Swas-At-kiyate
Timber = Swa-haraskapana-kiyata
Hand Drill- Torapanaya
Chisel= Lokuniya,Niyan Katuva
Scoring Tool-Irigana-Katuva
Awl-Vidina Katuva
File- Pira


Diagrams of hand tools from Henry Parkers= Ancient Ceylon and Medevial Art- Ananda Coomaraswamy.

Hand Tools of the CraftsmenSawsHand DrillPump Drill


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