First printed edition of a classic Sri Lankan philological text
or, A poetical vocabulary of Singhalese synonyms. By Nallurutun. With a liberal rendering into English, interspersed with explanatory notes, and two alphabetical indices; by The Rev. C. Alwis. Colombo Government Printing Office 1858
First edition. 8vo (21.5 x 13.5 cm), pp.[iv], 123, [1, blank]. With printed Sinhalese text. Bound in contemporary half leather. Spine rubbed and torn at head, with short splits. Otherwise a very good copy. Inscribed by the editor to Reverend William Boake, with Boake's ownership inscription on title-page. Later ownership inscription of C.H.B. Reynolds on front free endpaper.
A dictionary of Sinhalese synonyms in verse composed in 1421 and one of the classic texts of the Sri Lankan tradition of philology: "a work of great authority … constantly referred to by Singhalese authors. It holds the same position in Singhalese literature, as the Amarakosa vocabulary in the Sanskrit, and Abbidanappadipika in the Pali." (from editor's preface). This work was composed by one the ministers of Parakrama Bahu VI, king of the Sinhalese kingdom of Kotte, in the 15th century. He was a great patron of the arts and his reign is regarded as the golden era of classical Sinhalese literature. Entries are arranged by broad themes: words relating to Heaven; beneath the Earth; the Earth; town; vegetables; the lion; man; the castes: Brahmins, kings, merchants, and mechanics; miscellanea; and "various significations". Manuscripts of Namavaliya abound, but no critical edition had appeared in print: "There is hardly a Singhalese scholar, who is not in possession of a manuscript copy, or to whom its contents are not familiar. Being a work much used, and for the most part transcribed by laymen uninstructed in the Pali and Sanskrit languages, and, consequently, ignorant of the etymology of the greater part of the Singhalese words, these manuscripts abound with clerical errors. The present edition was prepared for the press by comparing and collecting manuscripts, collected from temples the most famous for Singhalese and Pali literature." The editor, Cornelis Alwis, who also compiled The Romanized handbook of Singhalese conversation, added two appendices useful for the learner of Sinhalese: "The first will serve the purposes of a Singhalese and English dictionary, and the second, as an English and Singhalese, as far as the words of the Namawalia are concerned."