Some Local Sinhalese and Tamil Worlds Used in the Gem Industry of Sri Lanka

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All the local words (italics) used on this page are in Sinhalese language unless stated otherwise.

Illama refers to gem bearing gravel while Goda illama refers to gem bearing gravel that is located just below the surface of the earth.

Illam kamatha refers to a small area reserved for placing the illama prior to washing. A steel rod is also used to determine the depth of the illama. This steel rod is called illam kura and measures approximately 4 and a half meters.

Padparascha is a Tamil word referring to the rare orange pink type of corundum (Sapphire) found only in Sri Lanka. It is called Padmaraga in Sinhalese language (Padma means lotus and Raga means color). Pushparaga refers to the yellow variety of sapphire (Yellow Sapphire). Gem quality zircons are known as Jargoon.

The word Tourmaline is derived from the Tamil and Sinhalese word Toramalli.

Geuda is a translucent to opaque type of corundum. Geuda may be heat treated to improve the color and clarity. Dhum geuda refers to geuda with a smoky appearance

Ottu refers to corondum gemstones that show color patches or dots either on the surface or within it. This is often found in blue sapphires.

Abundant and less expensive gemstones are known as Pajaathi gal (eg garnets and zircons). Valuable gemstones eg bluesapphires and alexandrites are known as Jathi gal (Jathi means precious and gal means stones).

A feather like inclusion in a gemstone is known locally as Tharasama, while Pasanama or kowanguwa refers to the silky effect found in some rough sapphires. the silky effect gives the star or cat's eye effect in some cut stones. Dalan are small rough gemstones that are often not valuable and found during the sorting process. Degune refer to sapphires that show a mixture of two colors (Usually blue and red). Almost black colored gemstones found in the washing basket which are not suitable for gem cutting is known as Katta. Nambuwa is the material remaining in the gem basket after washing the gravel.

Navaratna refers to a piece of jewellery set with 9 types of gemstones, namely diamond or white sapphire, yellow sapphire, green tourmaline or emerald, padmaraga, ruby, chrysoberyl cat's eye, hessonite garnet (Gomedaya), blue sapphire and pearl. Panchaloha refers to five different types of precious metals (Silver, copper, gold, platinum and iron). These precious metals are mixed together as advised by astrologers and jewelry is made out of the mixed metals.

Arunula is the local term that refers to a six pointed star (Asterism in gemstones).

Gomedaya refers to hessonite garnet (also known as Cinnamon stoneor grossular garnet) that can be set in jewelry to protect the wearer against evil platenery forces. Zoroastrianism (Parsis) insert a cinnamon stone into the mouth of the dead before exposing the dead man in the tower.

Kakanila is dark jet black blue sapphire that can be set in a ring to protect the wearer against evil platenery forces.

Hanaporuwa is the term used to refer to locally made gem cuttingmachines.

Kakilla and Habarala refer to leaves from two different species of plants. these leaves are shaped like an umbrella and can hold water on its surface.

Mahavamsa refers to the great chronicle in which the history of Sri lanka is described from the very early times.

Kotha is the gem quartz gemstone that is cut and polished and placed at the top of Buddhist pagodas.

Underground tunnels in a gem mine are called Donava. The group of people involved in a mining operation are called Karuhavla, which includes the miners, finance partners, timber suppliers etc.

Malava refers to kaolinized and micaceous material formed from decomposition below the illama. Kiri-mati malava is Malava rich in Kaolin. Parugala refers to unweathered bed rock found below the Malava.

Patal Vadiya means a temporary dwelling near a mining site. A Mura wadiya is a temporary hut with cadjan roof used to guard the illama 24 hours a day. A Massa is a temporary shelter covered with cadjan roof and made of wooden walls. The miners usually sleep, rest and cook in the Massa.

 

References:

i) Internet Stones.COM

ii) Gems of Sri Lanka (Sixth Revised Edition) by D.H. Ariyaratna FGA, DGA, FGS

iii) Zoroastrianism- Wikipedia

 

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