(Yāpanaya, Jafanapatão, Jaffapatinam)

Jaffna fortification and settlement, 1634-1635, view associated with Pedro Barreto de Resende, detail (António Bocarro and Pedro Barreto de Resende, Livro das plantas de todas as fortalezas, cidades e povoaçoens do Estado da Índia Oriental, 1634-1635, Cod. CXV 2-1, Biblioteca Pública e Arquivo Distrital de Évora, Évora, available at: link). 

Jaffna. The Fatidic History of the Elephant Emporium

Relatively brief and remarkably violent, the history of the Portuguese presence in Jaffna and its hinterland between 1619 and 1658 is still largely unaccounted for, especially in terms of its impact on the territory. During this period, several defensive structures were built in and around Jaffna, as well as a significant number of churches and chapels in the villages of its hinterland, in addition to other buildings. This investment by the Portuguese was aimed at controlling a fertile territory served by maritime networks that linked northern Sri Lanka to southern India, two regions united by the Hindu religion and the Tamil language. The export of elephants captured in the interior of the island was an important part of this trade. During recent archaeological excavations in Jaffna, artefacts were found that indicate a port active as early as the first millennium AD, if not before, and Islamic and Chinese ceramics from the medieval period stand out. Jaffna may have been the main port of the city of Nallur, medieval capital of the kingdom until its decline at the end of the 16th century.

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