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Elephants - domestic elephnt 1

This article includes information on the following topics:

 History of Elephant Domestication

Uses of Tamed Elephants in Sri Lanka

Domesticated Elephants and Sri Lankan Culture

 5 History of Elephant Domestication

It is true that elephants intimidate most people but domestication and elephants are two terms that are closely tied. According to certain reports, the first recorded instance of elephant domestication was in India, 4000 years ago. It is unclear and unprovable whether elephant domestication was practised prior to 2000 BC, it is certain that over the centuries, elephant domestication increased by leaps and bounds.

Sri Lanka is one of the only places in the world that is known for domesticating elephants both in historical times as well as in contemporary times. It is being recorded in the historical chronicles of the country that ancient kings used elephants for multiple purposes. Special instances in the history of Sri Lanka included the gifting of elephants to foreign dignitaries and nations.

Furthermore, elephants were used in the ancient constructions and sculptures event sculpted images of elephants in their creations. One of the primary reasons for the domestication of elephants is the fact that elephants possess an intellectually superior brain, immense strength, and high rates of obedience. 

5  Uses of Tamed Elephants in Sri Lanka
    5  Domesticated Elephants and Sri Lankan Culture

Elephant domestication, despite many campaigns against this act in the recent past, have continued for centuries in Sri Lanka and this has created a strong bond between the society of the country and its elephants. The cultural backdrop of the country is filled with numerous tales and structures that are closely related to elephants. This is true for all the historical eras of the nation. Even in the ancient and classical period of the country, elephant domestication has played a pivotal role.

Studies in to the activities and history of the Anuradhapura period, which spanned for many centuries, has revealed that tamed elephants have played a significant role. The evidence that proves the inclusion of the elephants of Sri Lanka and the country's culture is not only found in Anuradhapura but also in the Polonnaruwa Period as well as in later periods.

All the succeeding kingdoms of Sri Lanka have attributed immense significance for domesticated elephants. One of the last historic and cultural kingdoms of Sri Lanka, the Kandyan Kingdom, used domesticated elephants in large-scale. Most of the processions that originate from the Hill Country predominantly use elephants.

One could go on to say that these processions and other major cultural events of Sri Lanka mainly depend on its tamed elephants. These elephants are cladded in elegant garments and some carry culturally significant artefacts. The crowd that flock to witness the processions are most stunned by the grandeur and beauty of these magnificent creatures.

The depiction of elephants on ancient and modern superstructure and architectural establishments is common in Sri Lanka and this has been a common practice for centuries. Historic ruins that were found in the vicinity of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka, including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yahapahuwa, and Kandy, reveal the usage of sculptures of elephants in an extensive manner.

 4 5

Due to the long history of elephant domestication in Sri Lanka, researchers come across a large number of uses for tamed elephants. The expansive and constantly changing cultural background of the ancient civilisations of Sri Lanka, including civilisations and kingdoms from the classical as well as the medieval era of the country, created a scenario in which elephants were used for a multitude of different purposes. The most known and most popular use of tamed elephants in Sri Lanka is certainly related to major cultural events that initiate from historic cities such as Kandy. 


Tamed elephants are used extensively in almost all of the major processions, festivals, and events that are culturally significant to Sri Lanka. These events are related to the ancient civilisation, kingdoms, and its culture and historic traditions. The Kandy Esala Perahara, one of the largest processions of Sri Lanka, takes place annually and it includes several tuskers who are grandly clad and made aesthetically please for the onlookers. Processions that originate from highly urbanised cities such as Colombo also include elephants.

In addition to the usage of elephants for cultural events, elephants are used for industrial purposes as well. One of the main uses of the elephant in Sri Lanka as well as in the nations close by are for transporting logs. One of the most cost-effective and easiest modes of transporting and distributing logs and other heavy materials is via highly trained elephants. These elephants are quick to learn and with experience, are quite adept at assisting the logging industry of several cities in Sri Lanka and other countries such as India.

Furthermore, elephants are used for many other activities that do not fall under the spheres of culture and industrial activities. Elephants are even used for political endeavours and rallies. Entertainment events in Sri Lanka consistently utilises trained elephants and most of these events take place on the road. Due to the amazing sight of these giant creatures, the popularity of these events have witnessed immense enhancements.

Another interesting usage of tamed elephants in Sri Lanka, especially in the classical era, is for battles and combat. It is said that many famous kings of Sri Lanka used elephants and many of them had their own war elephant. King Dutugamunu, one of the most popular rulers of Sri Lanka, used his elephant for many purposes and these included his battles with other rulers.