Sinhalese belongs to the Indo-European language family with its roots
deeply associated with Indo-Aryan sub family to which the languages
such as Persian and Hindi belong. Although it is not very clear
whether people in
Sinhala though has close relationships with Indo Aryan languages which are spoken primarily in the north, north eastern and central India, was very much influenced by Dravidian language families of Hindi.Though Sinhala is related closely to Indic languages, it also has its own unique characteristics: Sinhala has symbols for two vowels which are not found in any other Indic languages in India: ‘æ’ (ඇ) and ‘æ:’ (ඈ).
The Sinhala script had evolved from Southern Brahmi script from which almost all the Southern Indic Scripts such as Telugu and Oriya had evolved. Later Sinhala was influenced by Grantha writing of Southern India. Since 1250 AD, the Sinhala script had remained the same with few changes. Although some scholars are of the view that the Brahmi Script arrived with the Buddhism, Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle) speaks of written language even right after the arrival of Vijaya. Archeologists had found pottery fragments in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka with older Brahmi script inscriptions, which had been carbon dated to 5th century BC . The earliest Brahmi Script found in India had been dated to 6th Century BC in Tamil Nadu though most of Brahmi writing found in India had been attributed to emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC.
Sinhala letters are round-shaped and are written from left to right and they are the most circular-shaped script found in the Indic scripts. The evolution of the script to the present shapes may have taken place due to writing on Ola leaves . Unlike chiseling on a rock, writing on palm leaves has to be more round-shaped to avoid the stylus ripping the Palm leaf while writing on it. When drawing vertical or horizontal straight lines on Ola leaf, the leaves would have been ripped and this also may have influenced Sinhala not to have a period or full stop. Instead a stylistic stop which was known as ‘Kundaliya’ is used. Period and commas were later introduced into Sinhala script after the introduction of paper due to the influence of Western languages.
Although various scholars had mentioned about numerations in the
Sinhala language in their writing on Sinhala language, a systematic
study had not been conducted up to now on numerals and numerations
found in Sinhala right before British occupation of Kandy. In modern
Sinhala, Arabic numerals, which were introduced by Portuguese, Dutch
and English, is used for writing numbers and carrying out
Roman numerals are used for writing dates and for
listing items or words in Sinhala though at present, Roman numerals
are not commonly used and they were also introduced by Westerners who
invaded Sri Lanka. It is accepted that
* 1 Numerals or numerations found immediately before the capture of
the Kandyan Kingdom in
* 1.1 Sinhala archaic numerals or Sinhala Illakkam * 1.2 Sinhala astrological numerals or Sinhala Lith Illakkam * 1.3 Katapayadiya * 1.4 Page numbering of Ola leaves using Sinhala ‘Swara (ස්වර)’ * 1.5 Bhootha Anka or Butha Samkaya
NUMERALS OR NUMERATIONS FOUND IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE CAPTURE OF THE KANDYAN KINGDOM IN SRI LANKA BY THE BRITISH
It had been found that five different types of numerations were used in the Sinhala language at the time of the invasion of the Kandyan kingdom by the British. Out of the five types of numerations, two sets of numerations were in use in the twentieth century mainly for astrological calculations and to express traditional year and dates in ephemeri des. The five types or sets of numerals or numerations are listed below.
SINHALA ARCHAIC NUMERALS OR SINHALA ILLAKKAM
Abraham Mendis Gunasekera, in _A Comprehensive Grammar of Sinhalese Language_ (1891), described a set of archaic numerals which were no longer in use. According to Mr. Gunesekera, these numerals were used for ordinary calculations and to express simple numbers. Gunasekera wrote: The Sinhalase had symbols of its own to represent the different numerals which were in use until the beginning of the present century. Arabic Figures are now universally used. For the benefit of the student, the old numerals are given in the plate opposite (No. iii.).
These numerals were also regarded as _Lith Lakunu_ or ephemeris numbers by W. A. De Silva in his _Catalogue of Palm leaf manuscripts in the library of Colombo Museum_. This set of numerals was known as _Sinhala illakkam_ or Sinhala archaic numerals.
A day had sixty Sinhala hora or hours. This watch, which belonged to the last king of Kandy, shows thirty horas or hours in Sinhala Illakkam. Even today, Sinhala astrologers express time of birth in Sinhala Hora or Hours for casting horoscopes. *
The Kandyan Convention of 1815, using Sinhala archaic numerals. *
The first page of Kandyan Convention. The first clause of the convention is numbered with Sinhala Illakkam. The numeral 'one' is marked with a red square. *
The second page of Kandyan Convention. The second and third clauses of the convention are numbered with Sinhala Illakkam. *
All eleven numerals found in the Kandyan Convention are given in the second row and the corresponding numerals which are given by Mendis Gunesekera are given below for comparison. Number 2 and 3 of Sinhala Illakkam have a slight variation.
SINHALA ASTROLOGICAL NUMERALS OR SINHALA LITH ILLAKKAM
Sinhala Lith Illakkam or Sinhala Astrological Numbers. Zero of Lith Illakkam is Halantha or Hal Lakuna. Hal Lakuna or Halantha removes the inherent vowel sound in a consonant. This is the first version of Sinhala Lith Illakkam and is the oldest version found. Please note Number 2, 3, and 9 are given by shapes which are similar to older Murthda 'Na'. *
Abraham Mendis Gunesekera became famous for the Sinhala Grammar Book which was written by him in the latter part of the 18th century. This book also gave the shapes of Sinhala Illakkam. Here in a rare magazine Article, he describes Lith Illakkam and he further suggests instead of using Hallantha or Hal Lakuna for zero to use modern zero. He writes in this article large numbers with Lith Illakkam. *
This Ola was found at Kandy museum and it contains Astrological calculations. The book have been written in the 17th century. *
This is the second version of Lith illakkam found in the modern books. *
An astrological text book found in the Kandy Museum with Lith Illakkam. *
A rare horoscope which was cast in 1936 with mixture of Lith Illakkam and Arabic numerals. Please note 'Thunda Litha' in Lith Illakkam. *
Page numbering with Lith Illakkam. Page numbers of Ola which are non buddhist topics are numbered with Lith Illakkam.
Although this numeral set was commonly used for casting horoscopes and to carry out astrological calculations, it had been found that this set had been used for numbering pages of Ola palm leaf books which covered primarily of none Buddhist topics in Sinhala. Numbers of lith illakkam look Sinhala letters and vowel modifiers, and it had been discovered that there are mainly two versions of these illakkam according to the way numbers 2, 3 and 9 are written. The number six is known as ‘akma’ in the Lith Illakkam. These numerals were in use continuously for writing horoscopes on Ola leaf, the tradition of which continued till the beginning of the twentieth century. Both versions of Lith illakkam have a zero and the zero is the Halantha or Hal lakuna (kodiya) in the Sinhala language. Although it is not understood whether Sinhala mathematicians treated zero as a number, it was quite possible they had known the concept of zero. In Lith Illakkam, numbers greater than zero were written the same way as the Arabic numbers with the zero and the value of the number in the left was increased by ten. In other words, Lith illakkam had a zero and a zero place holder concept. Lith illakkum version 1 had for 2, 3 and 9, Sinhala letter ‘Murthda Na’ in 6 to 8th century. In the second version of Lith Illakkam as W. A. De Silva had depicted in his book, 2,3 and 9, Sinhala letter, ‘Na’ (න) with vowel modifiers.
One of the most interesting articles which had been discovered is an article on numerals and numerations in Sinhala language, the authorship of which has been attributed to Abrham Mendis Gunesekera. In this article, he refers to Lith Illakam as well as to Sinhala Illakkam. For Sinhala illakkam, he produces the same shapes which had been given in his English book. Abraham Mendis Gunesekera uses modern Sinhala letters and vowel modifiers which is the Version 2 of Lith illakkam. In this article, he clearly mentions that Hal lakuna or ‘Kodiya’ is the zero. In other words, ‘Sunayathana’ is filled with a kodiya will multiply by ten of the number which is on the left side of Sunayasthana. Abrham Mendis Gunesekera clearly states that instead of Hal lakuna of the Sinhala language, a ‘Shunaya binduawa’ (zero) can be used to fill the ‘Shunayasthana’ (Zero Place Holder). In other words, Lith Illakkum uses duality of zero to write numbers greater than 9.
Even to this day, years are given in the front page of popular
ephemeris in Sri Lanka, ‘Panchanga Lith’ using ‘Katapayadiya’.
Katapayadiya is a unique numbering scheme where numbers 1 to 9 and 0
have been depicted by Sinhala consonants. The katapayadiya is mainly
used for writing dates. This is numeration is known as Katapayadiya1
since number one is allocated with the Sinhala letters ‘Ka’ (ක),
‘Ta’ (ට), ‘Pa’ (ප ) and ‘Ya’ (ය) . In this tradition
of writing numbers, the year 2007 can be written with for instance
‘Ka’ (ඛ) ‘Na’ (න) ‘Na’ (න) ‘Sa’ (ස).
Traditionally, 2007 will be written from right to left: 7002.
Ordinarily, using vowel modifiers, a word in Sanskrit will be created
for the year 2007 (7002 right to left) with the allocated letters for
7002. When reading, one has to remove the vowel modifier. Katapayadiya
was widely used by South Indian astrologers and some of Chola rock
PAGE NUMBERING OF OLA LEAVES USING SINHALA ‘SWARA (ස්වර)’
The method of page numbering of Ola using Sinhala Swara with
consonants had been common tradition in the ancient and recent history
of Sri Lanka. The author had found that using Sinhala Swara in place
of numeration could be traced back to Aryabhata’s (the great Indian
Mathematician and Astronomer) numbering system where he used Sanskrit
Swaras in place of numerals. Sinhala scribes had developed its own
numeration based upon Sinhala characters according to the order of the
position of consonants and vowels in the Sinhala Alphabet without the
modern two vowels: ‘Ae’ (ඇ) and ‘Ae:’ (ඈ) in the Sinhala
The tradition of Swara as numeration in page numbering in Ola had been commonly used for Buddhist manuscripts. The authors had the opportunity of examining several Ola palm leaf books which are in the Colombo Museum and the catalogues of Hugh Neville collection in the London Museum. Having investigated paging of Ola leaves, the majority of palm leaf manuscripts which are in the museum had Sinhala consonants with ‘swara’ (ස්වර) (combinations of sounds) for numbering. The number of combinations which can be made out of consonants is 544 and once the first 544 finishes, paging begins with the second cycle of 544 with the word ‘dwi:’ (ද්වී) or second in English. If the second cycle does not end the palm leaf book, it goes into third cycle of 544 which begins with the word ‘three’ (ත්රීp) or Three in English.
BHOOTHA ANKA OR BUTHA SAMKAYA
In Sinhala literature, certain words in the language were used to denote numbers. For instance, sky is associated with zero or ‘Sunaya’, and a number which was denoted by words is known as Bhuta Anka. Bhootha Anka was created by ancient Sanskrit mathematicians and astronomers prior to the invention of a symbol for zero. Some of the words which are associated with numbers are
* Moon = one * Eye = two * Fire = three
To write 130, one would place moon, fire, sky together to form the number.
Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, in his article ‘Ancient Sanskrit Mathematics: An oral tradition and a written literature”, describes Bhootha Anka as object-number metronomic expressions.
As it was mentioned previously, knowledge was transferred through
memory rather than writing it down. In order to make memorization
easier, it is natural that the numbers are placed as words and the
words are formulated sequentially that they would sound rhythmical.
The Indian tradition of Bhootha anka was imported to
BRAHMI NUMERALS FOUND IN SRI LANKA
Dr. Paranavithana (first Sri Lankan Commissioner of Archaeology) and
Dr. Abaya Aryiasinha had independently found in their research that
Sinhalese had used numerals which closely resembled
Brahmi numerals of
India in the early days of Sinhala civilization. The evidence for use
Brahmi numerals had been discovered primarily in rock inscriptions
which were inscribed in between AD 200 and 400. These numerals were
used to record donations given by royals and other people who were
belonged to the upper echelon of ancient Sinhala society to Buddhist
Brahmi numerals are ancestors of
Brahmi Numeral Four on a tile, Kandy Museum
RESEARCH INTO SINHALA NUMERALS
Although a few scholars had recorded the existence of Sinhala numerals after 1815, a comprehensive research was required to establish the past existence and precise shapes of these numerals.
The proposal, L2/07-002R (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N3195R), which was
submitted by Mr.
Subsequently, Prof. K.D. Paranvithana of Raja Rata University, Sri Lanka, and Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana carried out further research and the findings were presented at the National Archaeological Symposium held in July 2009, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, organized by the Department of Archaeology. The Synopsis of the paper was published in the Volume II of the Symposium’s proceedings. In October 2009, Mr. Harsha Wijayawardhana authored a book titled “Numerations in the Sinhala Language”.
The research into
In their research into
* Papers or publications on Sinhala numerals
* Original documents which had some of form of numerals or
* Rock inscriptions
* Ola leaf page numbering
* Any evidence for zero in
Shapes of several numeral sets which belong to Indic languages were compared with of the numerals sets which were identified as numerals or numerations in the Sinhala language. The Indic numerals sets which were studied extensively were Thai, Lao, Burmese, and Malayalam numerals. Colombo and Kandy museum were visited many instances to study Ola leaf pagination by the researchers. Colombo museum library hosts to an Ola leaf collection which is known as W. A. De Silva Collection and this sizable collection amounts to be 5000. Some of the original and older Ola leaf collections were found to be outside of Sri Lanka. A major collection is located in Britain and is known as Hue Neville collection and the catalogue of this collection is available in Sri Lanka. Other country museums that are reputed to host to Sinhala Ola leaf collections are in Arizona, US, Brussels, Belgium and Netherlands.
Main article: Sinhala Archaic Numbers (Unicode block)
The Unicode block for Sinhala numerals, called Sinhala Archaic Numbers, is U+111E0–U+111FF:
SINHALA ARCHAIC NUMBERS Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
𑇡 𑇢 𑇣 𑇤 𑇥 𑇦 𑇧 𑇨 𑇩 𑇪 𑇫 𑇬 𑇭 𑇮 𑇯
U+111Fx 𑇰 𑇱 𑇲 𑇳 𑇴
NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points
* ^ Dissanayaka, J.B. (2006). _Sinahala Graphology_. Sumitha
* ^ Mahanama, Thera. _Mahavamsa: The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka_.
* ^ Gunasekera, Abraham Mendis (1891). _A Comprehensive Grammar of
* Wijayawardhana, Harsha. _Numerations in the Sinhala Language_. Strategic Communications and Media Unit – ICTA. ISBN 978-955-1199-05-0 . * Hettigoda; De Silva, Hendrick (1987) . _Life and Planets, Vishwa Lekha, Sarvodaya_. pp. 34–36. * _Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages_. Oxford University Press US. 1998. * "Numeration by Kularathne P.D.S.". _Sinhala Encyclopedia_. 1967. * Menninger, Karl; Broneer, Paul (1992). _Number words and number symbols: A cultural history_. Courier Dover Publications. * Samaranayake, V.K.; Nandasara, S.T.; Dissanayake, J.B.; Weerasinghe, A.R.; Wijayawardhana, H. (2003). "An Introduction to UNICODE for Sinhala Characters" (PDF). University of Colombo School of Computing. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
* http://www.ilink.lk/si/programmes/709-icta-promotes-quality-software.html * http://www.icta.lk/en/policy-leadership-and-institutional-development/709-sinhala-numerals-were-used-in-the-kandyan-convention-says-icta-book.html
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