Rules for Maldivian Trading Ships Travelling Abroad (1925) and a Sojourn in Southern Ceylon


  • Xavier Romero-Frias Independent scholar



Indian Ocean, trade, Maldives, Sunni Islam, Intercultural dialogue


‘Rules for Maldivian Trading Ships,’ the translated document that forms the first part of the paper is a twelve‑page manual published by the Royal House on the rules that were to be followed by Maldivian oceangoing ships while on their yearly trading trip to “the continent” (kara). Kara referred primarily to the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the foreign place that Maldivian traders found most convenient to reach. This trade originated in most major islands of the archipelago in the past, including Minicoy (Maliku), but was vital for the communities living in the atolls located at the southern end of the chain. The second part of the paper includes the translation of a personal account by an old Maldivian trader about his experiences in and around Gali (Galle, Sri Lanka), the description of conditions in the harbour and an inland town in Ceylon, as well as the friendships he established there with local people.


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Author Biography

Xavier Romero-Frias, Independent scholar

Spanish writer and scholar, an expert in anthropology and linguistics. He has investigated the folklore and oral tradition of the Maldives, beginning in 1979, and has learnt two dialects of the Maldivian language fluently. He has also completed the English translation of hundreds of Maldivian tales and legends of the Maldives. He is fluent in nine languages. His present residence is in Bangkok.


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How to Cite

Romero-Frias, Xavier. 2016. “Rules for Maldivian Trading Ships Travelling Abroad (1925) and a Sojourn in Southern Ceylon”. Politeja 13 (1 (40):67-84.