The Realm of the
Maldive Islands (DivehiRajje) has an
ancient history going back at least 2,000 years to
Buddhist and Hindu times. The founder of the original
Hindu kingdom of Deva Mari, Surudasaruna Aditya, the
supposed son of King Sri Brahma Aditya of Kalinja. His
descendants converted to Buddhism shortly after the 3rd
century BC,after which the kingdom became known as Deva
Mahal. The Solar Dynasty became extinct in the male line
towards the end of the 9th century AD. The
last ruler, Queen Dhamaha'ara married another prince from
Kalinja, and founded the new Lunar Dynasty.
The islands were invaded by the Chola King during the
tenth century, when he established his ruler over the
northern most atolls Malikatholhu and Thiladunmathi. The
kingdom being reunified again when King Maha Parama
expelled the Indians in 1117. In 1153 King Tribhuwana and
his brother, Sri Kalo, converted to Islam and built the
first mosques at Malé, though Islam first arrived in the
islands in 1127. Nevertheless, Islam took quite a long
time to take a full hold in all the islands, achieving
that end only after several centuries and after several
instances of bloodshed and force.
The country numbers over a thousand low-lying coral
islands and Atolls scattered like a necklace of pearls in
the middle of the Indian Ocean, south west of Ceylon.
Increasing trading and cultural links with the Arab world
eventually resulted in the establsihment of an Islamic
Sultanate in 7th July 1153. Although, it took many
centuries before Islam fully permeated through the many
islands and throughout society. Strong measures were
taken to eradicate non-Muslim beliefs and practices, this
included the re-writing of history and the dissavowell of
the pre-Islamic heritage of the islands. Nevertheless,
the rulers continued to use ancient Sanskrit titles
alongside their Islamic styles until the middle of the
twentieth century. The sultanate was attacked by the
Portuguese in the fifteenth century but regained its
independence in 1573. They also fell prey to the
marauding rades of the Ali Rajas of Connore, who
frequently kidnapped princes and influential nobles and
carried them off to the Laccadives.
Although the islands established close trading relations
with the Dutch, after that power took control of Ceylon,
the Maldives remained splendidly aloof from the Western
powers for another two centuries. This continued until
the increase in concern by the British that the islands
may fall under the control of some other foreign power.
The Germans and Italians having recently demonstrated
their interest in the eastern seaboard of Africa, and the
French in the islands off the south-eastern coast.
The Malives became a British protectorate on 16th
December 1887, and thereafter supervised by them
according to a unique political doctrine, best described
as "sublime indifference". Palace revolutions
came and went, Sultans overthrown several times over,
even a quasi-republic established in 1953, without the
slightest reaction from the protectorate authorities. On
one occasion a missintepretation of a letter from the man
who should merely have been a regent, resulted in his
mistaken recognition as sovereign and Sultan by the
Governor of Ceylon in 1893. The Imperial power not being
comfortable about losing face by recognizing their error,
he was allowed to continue in power, until quietly
overthrown during a visit to Suez to marry an Egyptian
bride ten years later.
The half-hearted experiment without a sultan 1953 proved
unsuccessful. Popular sentiment restored the sultanate in
1954. The country achieved full independence on 26th
July 1965, and the Sultan proclaimed King, with the style
of His Majesty. However, the old King's popularity did
not endure the machinations of ambitious politicians,
drunk with the populist dreams then in vogue throughout
the Arab world. They engineered a "popular"
refurrendum against the monarchy and established a
republic on 11th November 1968. The old King
died six months later.
The new republican regime was not entirely free of
monarchist tendencies. The new President was an Amir of
noble and royal descent. The regime not only continued to
award the old noble titles but also established a few new
ones of its own. However, the republican subsequent
regime has proved to be avowedly anti-monarchist, to the
point where discussion and even historical research are
"severely discouraged". This "strongly
held" republican sentiment, however, actually the
consequence of several exhaustive but embarrasingly
fruitless investigations to establish any Royal descent
for the presidential family whatsoever. Since then, by
some miracle, a sayyidi descent has emerged, and the
family declared to be the senior family of sayyidi
descent anywhere on the planet. What need of mere royal
STYLES & TITLES:
The Sovereign (after 1965): Jala'ala ul-Malik,
i.e. King and the style of His Majesty
NB: previous rulers were styled: Sultan of Land and Sea
and Lord of the twelve-thousand islands, holding both the
Arabic title of Sultan and the more ancient Divehi title
of Maha Radun or Ras Kilege. They also assumed a
classical Divehi reign name at their installation or,
"gong ceremonies", when they were invested with
the Sword of State. The traditional European style for
the ruler was Sultan of the Maldive Islands, with the
style of His Highness.
The chief consort of the Sovereign: Rani Kilege.
The sons of the Sovereign and grandsons in the male line:
Manippulu (in Maldivian) or Amir (in
Arabic), i.e. Prince.
The daughters of the Sovereign, and grand-daughters in
the male line: Goma (in Maldivian) or Amira
(in Arabic), i.e. Princess.
More distant members of the Royal House could be granted
the titles of Prince or Princess in a parasol ceremony.
In common with most Islamic societies, the Maldive
Islands do not have a system of hereditary nobles.
Instead, a limited number of noble titles were bestowed
on individuals for their lifetimes. Although normally
conferred on members of the Royal House or on
aristocrats, the appointment of commoners was not
uncommon. In the latter case, appointment to a peerage
title raised the status of the family into the
Male Royal titles and titles of nobility for life: RasKilege. FarinaKilege. RannabanderiKilegefa'anu. DorimenaKilegefa'anu.
Kaulana'aKilege. OliginaKilege. Da'aradaKilege. KudaRannabanderiKilegefa'anu.
Female Royal titles and titles of nobility for life: RaniKilege. Ma'avaKilege. Kamba'adiKilege.
Ranking after the peerage, were several important
administrators, not unlike our own Great Officers of
State (furada'ana). These are given here because
the titles involved are almost identical to the titles of
nobility, but without the suffixes of Kilege or
Kilegefan: Farina. Rannabanderi. Dorimena. Fa'amuladeri. Ma'afai. Handegiri.
Ranking below the Great Officers of State, were a larger
number of gentry titles, the more important of these
were: Ma'afai. Mena'a. Ranahama'anthi. Gadhahama'anthi. Hirihama'anthi. Fenna. WathaBanderi. Ka'ana'a. Da'ana'a. Fandiai.
In addition to these official titles, borne by the
recipients for life, a hierarchy of hereditary titles by
virtue of rank also existed alongside them. Those for
males were arranged in the following descending order: Sultan (the sovereign). Manippulu (prince). Didi. Maniku (or Manikufa'anu). Fulu. Kalo.
The female equivalents of these were: Kabafa'anu. Goma (or Gomafulu) (princess). Didi. Manike. Fulu. Kabulo.
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
According to the 1931 Constitution, the ruler must be a
Sunni Muslim, not guilty of any Sharia offence, male aged
17 years or over, be of sound health and mind, be a free
man, have all five senses, able to read and write
Dhivehi, have administrative talents, be born as son of
the last king, or grandson in the male line of a king
descended from king Ghazi Hassan Izudeen, the son of
Muhammad Fa'amuladeri Kilegefa'anu of the Huraa dynasty.
ORDERS & DECORATIONS: NishanIzzaiytheriVerikan (the
Order of the Distinguished Leader): Founded by King
Muhammad Farid I ca. 1965. Awarded in five classes (1. Nishan-i-Ghazi,
2. Nishan-i-Izzud-din, 3. Nishan-i-Shahid-i-'Ali,
4. Nishan-i-Iskander, and 5. Nishan-i-Majidi) AskariMedalgeVerikan (the Military
Medal): Founded by King Muhammad Farid I al-Awwal.
GLOSSARY: Amir: Arabic title meaning commander or prince,
used in the Maldives for princes and peers of the realm
alike. Anianga: Minister of State and Royal Announcer. Atollu: province, not coral reef surrounded by a
lagoon. Atolluverin: provincial governor. Banda'araNaibu: Attorney-General. Bodu: great, grand, chief, principal. BoduBanderi: Chief Treasurer, ranking as a
Vizier. BoduVazir: Chief Minister or Grand Vizier. Da'arada (or Dahara'a): General, ranking as
a Vizier. Devehi: the usual term used by Maldivians to
describe themselves, meaning "islander". Dhandanayaka: Minister for Justice. Divehi: native language of the Maldives, with
certain affinities to old Sinhalese or Elu. Didi: rank suffix first applied to the members of
the deposed Diyamigily Dynasty and their descendants,
later extended to the non-royal lines of the Hura'age,
i.e. Athirige, Henveyruge and the Kaka'age. Later
extended to the descendants of the kilege nobles and the
commner wives of princes. Fa'anu: honorific suffix used to increase the
status, title or rank of an individual. Fakha'ama: Excellency. Fa'amuladeri: Minister of State and Royal
Teasurer. Fandia'aru (or previously Uthupadiari):
Fitna'ayak: Minister for Police, ranking as a vizier. Furada'ana: great officers of state. Goma: "ambergris", the most precious
commodity in the islands. A title meaning royal prince or
princess, but limited to the latter from the middle of
the nineteenth century. Gomafulu: a royal princess of the first rank,
daughter of a Sultan by a Goma. Hakura'a: one of the Vazierin, Minister for Public
Works. Haadiyari: preacher, ranking as a vizier. Henevirasun: also transliterated via Arabic as shanuraza,
regent or commander-in-chief, once the most senior
official after the king. Kala'a: Prince. A title in use before the
accession of the Hurage dynasty. Kala'afanu: Lord. Kalaminja: A prince of royal descent from both
parents. Kalifa'anu (or Kalige): suffix borne by
those not belonging to the aristocracy or gentry.
Kamba'a: Princess. A title in use before the
accession of the Hurage dynasty, later conferred as a
special title on commoner wives of Sultans especially
promoted to this rank. Kathiri: kshatriya, noble, exalted.
Khatib: the chief spiritual and temporal authority in
each island or village, except in Malé, where they only
exercised religious authority. Kilege (or Kilegefa'anu): peerage title
limited to eight males and three females, at any one
time, three additional titles being created by the
Republican regime in 1976, but all such titles were
abolished by Act of Parliament in 1979. Ma'a (or Maha): great.
Ma'aBanderi: Minister of the Royal Household
and Keeper of the Royal Seal. Ma'afa'akalu: Receiver-General of Revenue, ranking
as a vizier. Ma'ali: Sublime. Ma'ana'ayak: Admiral, ranking as a vizier. Ma'apasagi: Minister of State and Keeper of the
Royal Records. Maha Radun: maharaja, great ruler, great king.
Malik: King. Manippulu (or Manifulu): royal prince, son
or grandson of a sultan. Manikufa'anu: suffix borne by individuals
descended from previous Royal dynasties, Sidis, and the
children and grandchildren of those holding Kilege
Miruhahuru: Director of Immigration and Ports. Mudimu: administrator working under the Chief
Justice and responsible for the maintenance of mosques
and burial sites. Naibu: deputy, lieutenant; chief judicial
functionary on each island, responsible to the Chief
Justice on Malé. Pallavainsanu: a Minister of State ranking
immediated after the Dhandanayaka and the Uthupadiari,
but whose functions remain clear as the office became
obsolete many centuries ago. Radun: raja, ruler, king.
RaniKilege: queen consort, title of the
formally designated and invested consort of the ruler,
usually created at a Gong ceremony, not necessarily
assumed as of right. Sometimes conferred on the eldest
daughter of the reigning Sultan. Rannabanderi: Minister of State and Keeper of the
Crown Jewels. Ras Kilege: ruler, king. Rasgefa'anu: demunitive or honorific of Ras
Kilege, meaning ruler or king. Rehendi: regnant female ruler. Saridaleys: ivory throne. Seedi (or Sayyid): descendant of the prophet. Shahbandar: one of the Vazierin, Minister for the
Navy or Admiral-in-Chief. Shanuraza: later transcribed as henevirasun,
meaning regent or commander-in-chief, once the most
senior official after the king. Singhassana: lion throne. Sultan: post-Islamic title for ruler. Sultana: the usual post-Islamic title for a
regnant female ruler, usually accompanied by the Devehi
style of Kathiri Maha Rehendi. Sumuww: "Highness". Thakurufa'anu (or Takkhan): suffix borne by
the gentry. UttamaFandia'aru (or previously Uthupadiari):
Chief Justice. He ranked before the great offices of
state and held charge over civil and ecclesiastical
justice, the maintenance of mosques, burial sites,
charitable trusts, religious rituals and the recording of
the tarikh (state chroncile). Vazierin: ministers, usually ranking below the
great officers of state. Vela'ana'a: one of the Vazierin, First Lord of the
Admiralty or Admiral. Vizier: minister. Waqf: charitable trust. Waliyyul-Amr (or Wali al-Amir):
"Governor in Command", the title of the Head of
State during the period of the first "republic"
Allama Ahmed Shihabuddine of Midu in Addu Atoll.
"Kitab fi Athaari Meedoo el-Qadimiyyeh". Maldive
Bell, H.C.P. 1922-35. "Excerpta
Maldiviana." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Ceylon Branch, 1922-1935. VOL. XXIX, No 75, pp
99-104; No 76, pp 194-214; and No 77, pp 283-303. VOL.
XXX, No78, pp 132-142; No 79, pp 257-270; and No 80, pp
436-447. VOL. XXXI, No 81, pp 180-195; No 82, pp 400-415;
and No 83, pp 539-578. VOL. XXXII, No 84, pp 76-123; No
85, pp 226-242; and No 86, pp 372-387. VOL. XXXIII, No
87, pp 47-90; and No 88, pp 169-191.
H.C.P. Bell. The Maldive Islands: Monograph on the
History, Archaeology and Epigraphy. Government of Ceylon,
Sir Albert Gray. "The Voyage of Francois Pyrard of
Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas and
Brazil", Vol I, Vol II (Parts I and II). The Hakluyt
Society, First Series 80, 1887-1888.
Clarence Maloney. People of the Maldive Islands. Oriental
Longmans, Bombay, 1980.
Hassan A. Maniku & G.D. Wijayawardhana. Isdhoo
Loamaafaanu. Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, Colombo,
Agostinho de Azevedo Meirelles e Domingos de Araujo
Affonso (comps). Nobiliário de familílias de Portugal
de Felgueiras Gayo. Impressão diplomática do original
manuscrito, existente na Santa Casa da Misericórdia de
Barcelos. Tomo décimo sétimo. Oficinas Gráficas da
PAX, Braga, 1938-1941.
Lars Vilgon. Maldive Odd History: The Maldive Archipelago
and its People, Volumes One to Four. Privately published
by Lars Vilgon, Stockholm, 1992-1993.
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