British university returns 9 skulls to Sri Lanka's indigenous community

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-23 19:52:46|Editor: xuxin
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COLOMBO, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- A British university has handed over nine skulls to Sri Lanka's indigenous Vedda community in a repatriation ceremony, local media reported here on Saturday.

The skulls were handed over to Sri Lanka's Vedda Chief Wanniya Uruwarige at a special ceremony held in University of Edinburgh's Playfair library.

Speaking at the event, Chief Uruwarige said that even though these remains had been in Edinburgh for many years, their spirits had remained with the Vedda community in Sri Lanka as these remains were of their tribe members.

"This reuniting of spirits and physical remains -- for which I thank the university -- is a very special moment for my people," Uruwarige said.

Experts say the skulls may be more than 200 years old. However, it is not known how they became part of the university's collection around a century ago. Chairman of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh Professor Tom Gillingwater said "We are pleased to be able to return these culturally-important artifacts to help ensure the Vedda's legacy endures for generations to come."

The Vedda community now hopes to include the skulls in a collection that would showcase their proud history in Sri Lanka. Studies by researchers in Germany and Edinburgh have confirmed the Vedda community's claim of being some of Sri Lanka's earliest inhabitants.

The Vedda community makes up less than 1 percent of Sri Lanka's population, according to most estimates.

The Vedda language is considered to be endangered and many community members now speak either Sinhala or Tamil, the island country's two official languages.

According to historical records, the Vedda community was held in high esteem in pre-colonial Sri Lanka. The community took a leading role in several anti-colonial battles in the 1800s.