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Appuhamy, or Appuhamilage (Sinhalese: අප්පුහාමි) from Appoe (Gentleman) and Hamie (Lord) (Hamie is a derivation of Sanskrit word Swami) is a Sinhala surname or given name use in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) as a title usually among Govi Vamsa [1][2][3] and a term used for Chamberlains (Dugaganna Rala) of Kandyan era Kings,Equivalent terms for a wife of an Appuhamy are Hamine, Manike, or sometimes Kumarihamy.

In later periods, Prince Don John, who later became Don John Appuhamy prior to his winning the Kandyan Throne under the name of King Wimaladharmasuriya, was renowned as above, That is according to Baldius,Source- Udarata Maha Karalla By Prof Tennakoon Wimalananda


Kandyan Era (Feudal title)[edit]

Ehelepola Maha Nilame was a Appuhamy for HM at the beginning of his career.

Those members of three families of the King’s men referred also as Chamberlains who rendered their services in their capacity as Watchmen or Guardsmen (In-charge of) at Barrier of Royal Bed Chamber called Hathapenage,and those at The Royal Time Keepers Point barrier watchmen (or in-charge of) or guardsmen called Atapattu Murapola and then The Royal Gold Weaponry or Armory guardsmen (In-Charge of) called The Ran Avuda Mandapa, all of whom were allocated as a mark of Respect and a title of appreciation,the General appellation called Appuhamys respectively. It was in referring to them that the title called Dugaganna Rala or Dugaganna Nilame was also applied to. Those officers were derived from families with proven loyalty and sacrificial devotion to his Majesty and from those traditional families commanding high respect and honour from the countrymen. As these posts were starting points for other vital and strategic posts in his Majesty's services,they were highly competitive or contested. Although King Veera Parakrama Narendra Singha contemplated that it suffices if these officers were made to serve his Majesty every other month-like all other King’s officers-and that going by shifts. But when the Appuhamys pointed out that,with this shifts system,they too would fall into the same despicable level as the other officers of the King,and consequently appealed to his Majesty-that they be allowed to or grant them permission to-render their services to him continually,and as and when they wanted releasment for personal reasons they would make themselves absent,of course with prior approval from the Throne. Just adhering to the literary meaning of the Sinhala word Dugganna Rala,these King’s men were even alert to-never hesitated to-sacrifice their own lives for the good of His Majesty The King. The last Kandyan King,deserted by his own ministers and country men,and when on his fleeing to Madha Mahanuwara,when taking rest at Gallahawatte Arachchi’s home,that Bed Chamber was guarded by a Hathapenage Appuhamy.

In King Rajadhi Raja Singha’s time in his Hathapenage Murapola,there were 112 Appuhamys in service. But at the time of the last King of the Sinhala people this number was reduced to 48 only,In fact,they did their Guard duty at the verandah of the Hathapenage. Of them 12 guards were holding a stabbing implement named Illukkole. It was their custom to wear a mouth guard (mask) when in Majesty’s service. This was a white cloths ribbon about one inch in breadth. Earlier,this mouth guard was two inches in breadth. In this garment the piece exactly covering the mouth was red piece of cloth called Paccawadam,while the rest of the clothe was white. The Hathapanage Appuhamys served under officers named Muhandiram Nilame of the Maha Hathapenage,the secretary and Kankanama.

Those Appuhamys serving at,At the Atapatthu Muarapola (Time Keepers Point),also called The Water Clock Gate,were known as Atapattu Appuhamys. Earlier they were 50 to 60 in number but the last Sinhala King brought it down to 48. Putting the Water Clock Plates in position and also to accompany him when the King is roaming the country or doing Royal Tours,was their duty. The Atapattu Maduwa was a building placed close to the Royal Palace. Those serving here placed four Water Clock Plates in the pond and to inform the time rang a bell. They had divided the daytime into parts and the night into four Jamas or Phases.

It was this way:-

Time Periods Phases
From dawn to the end of eighth Sinhala hour 1st Phase
From ninth Sinhala hour to end of fifteenth hour (mid day) 2nd Phase
From Mid day to end of 7th hour 3rd Phase
From 8th hour to end of 15th hour 4th Phase

The night also was thus divided into 8-7-7-8 hourly four phases. According to this the bell was rung once,twice,thrice,4-8,6,5-1,times etc. Auspicious times for each function was declared via this medium. During daytime more than three Appuhamys did serve rarely. Half number from those who came for the night shift slept while the rest did guarding duty.

Earlier there were more than 100 Appuhamys (Guardsmen) in-charge of the Royal Gold Weaponry or Armory but that number was brought down to 48 by the last Sinhala King. They served under the charge of secretary of the Royal Gold Weaponry or Armory,tended to keep a record of the weapons available and they also got them repaired by the Smiths of his Majesty. As and when the King did his outings and Royal tours,it was their duty to accompany him carrying those equipments like the Mobile Weaponry and the Golden Bow & Arrows. The Lacquer-craftsmen Archers living in Matale Hapuvida Village did supply lacquer-worked decorated handles for these items.

Privileges conferred on the Appuhamys[edit]

They can go past the Queens. They were not under the charge of the High Officers like Adikaram, Dissawe etc. Without doing any sort of duty Appuhamys enjoyed rights and incomes etc. of their granted lands fields etc. But all of them were bound to perform bringing the Pingo of rice (Kath Hal) Rajakariya-the Duty to the Royals. At given times,they were exempted from this duty. Yet,in case this was not stated down in the Lekampotha (the Secretarial Book),the exemption was only temporary. For each of these Duggannarala,a village and a Man was allocated. The Village folk did the cultivation work free,in his fields;they looked after his lands and Repaired his Walauwa-The stately Mansion. Also the villagers supplied to Kandy his monthly requirement of Rice,A month’s requirement was termed Barak (a weight),namely 60 Hundus (Hundu=4/1 measure). A hundu contained 8-at times 9 or 10 palm fulls.

A King’s man called Agubalana Nilame (The Royal Taster),tested the prepared Royal Victuals which were supplied to his Majesty's consumption. This tasting was effected as a pre-testing as to whether the victual were contaminated with any poison,Agubalana Nilame was also considered as a Duggannarala.

In the coastal areas the term Appuhamy was applied with a difference[edit]

a. The Govi Vamsa had two divisions called highest strata known as Appuhamy and the secondary strata known as Saparamadu Appuhamys. That is in the words of Baldius (LCS P 99).

b. As a Surname-members of respectable 'high' caste families such as Yapa Appuhamilage, Epa Appuhamilage, Wijayasundra Appuhamilage etc.

c. As a part of a personal name - Don Bastian Appuhamy, David de Silva Appuhamy, etc. can be quoted.[2][3][4]

In later periods, Prince Don John, who later became Don John Appuhamy prior to his winning the Kandyan Throne under the name of King Wimaladharmasuriya, was renowned as above, that is according to Baldius.

d. As an honorary title name - Persons of respectable families were addressed as Appuhamys as a mark of respect. That is in extant even today in rural areas of Sri Lanka.

e. Muhuppu (Maha-Appu) is a title derived from the same root word 'Appu' (gentleman) and 'Maha' (great) which is conferred on the chief lay custodian by the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka.[5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Munasiha, Siri (14 June 2011). "SINHALESE NAMES FROM 14 -21 CENT". sirimunasiha. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Wright, Arnold. Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon. Lloyd's Greater Britain Publishing Company. p. 625. ISBN 978-8120613355. 
  3. ^ a b Lakshapathiya Mahavidanalage De Mel Family, rootsweb, Accessed 4-12-2015
  4. ^ Liyanagama, Lakdev (9 November 2015). "A TRIBUTE TO AN ERUDITE MONK". Daily News. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  5. ^ History of the Ja-Ela Passion Play By L. S. Nelson Fernando (Daily Mirror) Accessed 4-12-2015
  6. ^ Nāḍagama, the first Sri Lankan theatre - M. H. Goonatilleka (Sri Satguru Publications) p.38,48-9(OCoLC)571799358
  7. ^ A Popular Story of Fr. Joseph Vaz, the Apostle of Lanka, for the Young - Father Joseph Aloysius (O.M.I.) p.23,26&36 (Bolawalana)(OCoLC)556497444
  • Vimalananda, Tennakoon (2008). උඩරට මහ කැරැල්ල [The great rebellion of 1818; the story of the first war of independence and betrayal of the nation]. 3 (3rd ed.). Colombo: M.D. Gunasena. pp. 120, 226–228. OCLC 298665. 
  • Clough, Rev. Benjamin (2006). Clough's Sinhala English Dictionary (6th ed.). India: Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-0105-5. 
  • Vijayatunga, Dr. Harischandra. මහා සිංහල ශබ්දකෝෂය. Colombo: M.D .Gunasena. ISBN 955-21-1423-3. 

External links[edit]

1.Jayatissa, Gunapala (6 June 2011). "දුක්‌ගන්නාරාළ නොහොත් අප්පුහාමිවරු". Divaina (in Sinhala). Retrieved 2 February 2013. 

2.Jayatissa, Gunapala (10 October 2011). "රාජ්‍ය පාලනය හා බැඳුණු කුල ක්‍රමය". Divaina (in Sinhala). Retrieved 2 February 2013.  zero width joiner character in |title= at position 5 (help)

3.Weerawardana, Vijayapala (4 July 2010). "උඩ පහත දෙරටට නුහුරු සියනෑ පෙදෙසි බස් වහර". Silumina (in Sinhala). Retrieved 2 February 2013. 

4.Author Board, Lankadeepa (27 November 2011). "උඩරට මහා කැරුල්ල". Lankadeepa (in Sinhala). Retrieved 2 February 2013. 

5.Munasiha, Siri (14 June 2011). "An Introduction to Sinhalese names from 14 -21 cent". Siri Munasiha's Blog. Retrieved 2 February 2013.