Video: Charming Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1931


"Over 300 years ago the charming little island of Ceylon was captured by the Dutch, who held it until it was taken by the British in 1798. And it remains to this day one of the crown colonies of Great Britain.

At Colombo, the chief sea port of Ceylon, we are immediately interested by the extremes in vehicular traffic.

Here in the main streets we see automobiles, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, and ox carts. All hobnobbing with each other in perfect order.

Even the kitchen stove is moved about on wheels.

Here we are introduced to the water sprinkling system of Ceylon.

This picturesque primitiveness is also observed in boat traffic. Where the Colombo Ferry lazily plies it's trade.

While waiting for the ferry some of the passengers take advantage of the municipal cigar lighters.

Not far from here we come upon a most primitive scene. A group of natives separating shaft from rice. Incidentally rice is one of the cheap products of Ceylon.

Primitive methods of labour are revealed in many ways throughout this tropical island. Here we observe men and women working side by side in the construction of their roads.

The tropical scenery so characteristic of Ceylon is beautifully illustrated in this typical setting.

The Devil dancers of Kandy.

This dance usually starts very slowly. The rhythmic beat of drums gradually works its self to a mad frenzy. We are told that the chief inspiration of the devil dancers is the thought that they are driving away evil spirits.

Foremost amongst the animals of Ceylon are the elephants. Which are of considerable value when tamed. They are used extensively for hauling heavy burdens where horses, oxen and motor car are inadequate.

Every afternoon, at the same hour, these elephants stop their work in the field and go down to the river to bath.

It is said that their sense of time is so accurate, that the town clocks mite be set by their habits. Water is essential to their well being; and no animal delights more thoroughly in a bath. They are excellent swimmers enabled by means of their trunks to breath without difficulty when the entire body is submerged.

Elephants have very poor sight. They are guided mostly by their keen senses of hearing and smell. They have the rare combination of strength, sagacity, and docility.

It is also said that no animal is more appreciative of kindness, or more distressed by injustice than the elephant. In fact there are cases on record where elephants have actually died of broken hearts because of ill treatment.

Consequently, their owners endeavour to treat them kindly.

At Mount Lavinia, a delightful resort just a few miles from Colombo, we are fascinated by the boats which are used by the native fishermen. One of the chief sports of Mount Lavinia is surf riding. These boats are taken out a short distance from shore and allowed to ride back on the rolling waves.

The fishermen themselves are extremely colourful. These old fellows are chewing betel nuts mixed with lime from burnt sea shells. A common practice amongst poorer classes in most countries of the orient. The juice of the betel nut dies the inside of the mouth and teeth a vivid red. And the sight of it is rather appalling.

About 2500 years ago the original inhabitants of Ceylon were over come by Sinhalese colonist who came from India and founded a dynasty which lasted many hundreds of years. Our waiter on the terrace of the Mount Lavinia hotel is a typical example of the original Sinhalese. His station in life is marked by the comb which is encircles the crown of his head. This comb signifies that he has never carried burdens upon his head. The Sinhalese make up about 2/3 of the native population.

The forming surf breaking upon the palm fringed shore of the Indian Ocean gives us our final view of charming Ceylon."

Every word of the above transcript was typed out by Bailaman. Feel free to point out any corrections via the comment form below.

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