Galle Trilingual Inscription

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Galle Trilingual inscription as displayed in the Colombo National Museum of Sri Lanka in December 2011.

The Galle Trilingual Inscription is a stone tablet (stele) inscription in three languages, Chinese, Tamil and Persian, that was erected in 1409 in Galle, Sri Lanka to commemorate the second visit to the island by the Chinese admiral Zheng He. The text concerns offerings made by him and others to the temple on Adams Peak, a mountain in Sri Lanka, Allah (the Muslim term for God) and the god of the Tamil people, Tenavarai Nayanar. The admiral invoked the blessings of Hindu deities here for a peaceful world built on trade.[1] The stele was discovered in Galle in 1911 and is now preserved in the Colombo National Museum.

On his third voyage, Zheng He sailed from China in 1409, and carried with him the trilingual tablet which he planned to erect in Sri Lanka. The date equates to 15 February 1409, indicating that it was inscribed in Nanjing before the fleet set out. The Chinese portion gives praise to the Buddha and records lavish offerings in his honour.

The tablet was found by an engineer, S. H. Thomlin, in 1911 in Galle. It can now be seen in the national museum in Sri Lanka. A modern replica of the stele has been installed in the Treasure Boat Shipyard Park in Nanjing, along with copies of other steles associated with the voyages of Zheng He.


Galle inscription (modern replica), Top half.
Galle inscription (modern replica), bottom half.

1,000 pieces of gold; 5,000 pieces of silver; 50 rolls of embroidered silk in many colours; 50 rolls of silk taffeta, in many colours; 4 pairs of jewelled banners, gold embroidered and of variegated silk, 2 pairs of the same picked in red, one pair of the same in yellow, one pair in black; 5 antique brass incense burners; 5 pairs of antique brass flower vases picked in gold on lacquer, with gold stands; 5 yellow brass lamps picked in gold on lacquer with gold stands; 5 incense vessels in vermilion red, gold picked on lacquer, with gold stands; 6 pairs of golden lotus flowers; 2,500 catties of scented oil; 10 pairs of wax candles; 10 sticks of fragrant incense.


  1. ^ Robert D. Kaplan. (2010) Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power

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