Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



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India and the Roman Empire     149

the days of Kosmas attained great prosperity.
As at the present moment, it was the great entrepot
of trade from China, India and the West. '' Its
position is central," says Kosmas, " and it is
a great resort of ships from India, Persia and
Ethiopia, and despatches many of its own."
Its native name, he continues, is Sieladiba (Sinhala
dvipa, the island of the Sinhalese or Lion people,
whence the modern Ceylon), but the Indians
call it Tapropane (Tdmraparm). It had two
kings,—probably the Sinhalese king of Anura-
dhapura, and the Tamil ruler of the north,—and
these two monarchs were frequently at war with
one another. The Sinhalese monarch possessed
a gigantic sapphire^, ''as large as a pine-cone,
fire-coloured, and flashing far and wide in the
sunshine, a matchless sight." It was placed in
a temple which stood on an eminence. This
famous jewel was no flction upon the part of
Kosmas. Hiuen Tsiang, a century later, writes
of it : " Every night, when the sky is clear, and
without clouds, can be seen at a great distance
the glittering rays of the gem placed on the top
of the stUpa of Buddha's tooth ; its appearance
is like that of a shining star in the midst of space ^."
Marco Polo had heard of it, but calls it a ruby.

Kosmas repeats a story, already told by Pliny,
of how a Persian and a Roman trader arrived
simultaneously at one of the Ceylon ports.    They

1  'YaKLvOos.    Perhaps amethyst.

2  Life of Hiuen Tsiang, trans. Beal, iv. 134.
  Page 149