Congratulations to the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka

The Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. It was formed on 7th February 1845 as the Asiatic Society of Ceylon.   It immediately applied for incorporation which was accorded in January 1846, thus becoming the Royal Asiatic Society of Ceylon. The Society has published a Journal since 1846. In 1977 it was renamed as the Royal Asiatic Society (Sri Lanka Branch), becoming the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka in 1986. We would like to send our congratulations to the Society on this special anniversary and wish it great success, not only with its celebratory ventures, but also for the years to come.

Council of Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 1970. (Image taken from their website)

The website of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka gives details of the many events they are organising in this anniversary year and of memorabilia being created to commemorate the event. These include:

13th Annual RASSL Research Conference
As in the years past, this conference will be open to younger academics and scholars in an attempt to help develop the necessary confidence to research write and publish their findings.

History of Technology and Science series
Over a period of four years a group has collated information from Buddhist texts and other important writings on indigenous, traditional science and technology. The material collected will be published in three volumes.

The History of the RASSL
A publication to bring the history of the RASSL up to date to the 175th year of its existence.

The Issue of a Commemorative Coin
A commemorative coin celebrating the 175th Anniversary with the concurrence of the Central Bank.

Reprinting of important articles.
Over the years some outstanding articles have been printed in the RASSL Journals. It is hoped that a selection of about ten to fifteen articles may be included in a special volume.

Pali Journal.
To engage senior Pali scholars to contribute to the journal and eventually to coordinate with the work of the Pali Text Society, UK.

Commemorative Plaque
A commemorative plaque to be presented to the Asiatic Societies, the participating Embassies, Institutions, and special invitees participating in the conference. The plaque will feature a 3D medal with the name of the society, the emblem, the years being celebrated and the years of existence.

Commemorative Medals
A commemorative medal in small cotton bags, will be available to be sold to members and well wishers. The medal will feature the name of the society, the emblem, the number of years being celebrated and the years of existence.

If any of these are of interest to you, or you wish to learn more about the Society, then please go to their website for further details.

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On Thursday 13 February we welcomed Dr Simon O’Meara  (SOAS), who lectured on “The Ka’ba of Mecca as axis and matrix mundi”. Drawing from an image of  the Mappa mundi with the ‘Dome of the earth’ (Qubbat al-arḍ) at the centre, the Kaʿba next to it, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria at the perimeter, found in an unidentified late medieval or pre-modern Persianate manuscript (gouache and ink on paper), Dr O’Meara described the relevance of the Ka’ba of Mecca to the matrix of the world. After his lecture, Dr O’Meara answered questions before a wine reception.

Dr Simon O’Meara

Our next lecture will be on Tuesday 18 February when Dr Fiona Kerlogue (Former Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at he Horniman Museum) will speak on “Travelling and Collection in the Dutch East Indies in the 1930s: the collections of Růžena Charlota Urbanová in the National Musuem, Prague”. We hope you will be able to join us for this event.

I would like to finish this blog with an invitation to our next Collections Open Evening. This will take place on Tuesday 17 March, 6.30 pm and will, yet again, provide a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the many varied collections that we hold. This year there will be short talks from:

  • Rebekah Harbord who will talk about the conservation of fragile Indo-Persian miniature paintings of Laylá and Majnūn, believed to date from the mid-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth century
  • Arantza Dobbels who will discuss the conservation of several maps, drawn by Indian artists in the 1830s, depicting the sacred island of Sivasamudram and the bridge over the Kaveri river
  • Sonetra Seng who will describe her work cataloguing and arranging photographs and other materials from the Society’s H.G. Quaritch Wales collections, which document Hindu and Buddhist antiquities from South East Asia

We will have collections on display in both the Reading Room and the Council Room. Please do come and see some more of our treasures and find out about current work with our Collections. The event is free and open to all, but we would be grateful if attendees could RSVP to Amy Riach at ar@royalasiaticsociety.org .