Maldives History and Culture

Maldives is well known as a luxury tourist destination. Little is known on its history and culture.  History reveals that this island nation was inhabited as early as 1500 BCE.  First settlers were Aryans who is known to have settlements in Sri Lanka as well. In comparison, the great explorer Christopher Columbus found America in 1492.   As Maldives islands are disconnected, Maldives population was believed to be dispersed.  Today, majority are settled in greater Male which consists of Male, Hulhumale and Villingili. To date population is little over a 500,000 and considered to have had considerable development.   There has not been a known major migration or another settlement to Maldives.

Prior to embracing Islam Maldives was primarily a Buddhist nation which is believed to be influenced by Kalingas of ancient India (who were a major tribe) and was ruled by Kings (Sultans) or Queens (Sultanas) .   Maldives embraced islam in 1153 AD, after a trader named Abul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary who was a Morocon visited Maldives during this time.  At that time King was Sri Tribuvana Aditiya / Later converted to Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He was persuaded by Al Barbary to convert the country to Islam.

Maldives was ruled by women as well.  Most well known was Queen Khadheeja who ruled during  over 3 reigns, total of 30 years between 1347 and 1380.  She was the first female ruler. How she came to power is known to be through assassinations. First when she came to power in 1347, it was after assassinating her Brother. Then later when she was deposed by her husbands  whom she murdered as well to seek power.

Maldives History
Signing of Independence

 

The Maldives was a Kingdom up until 1968. During this time Maldives was under Portuguese colony from 1558 to 1573.  Malabars from South India also ruled Maldives for a short period from 20th Dec 1752 to 7th April 1753.  Later Maldives was under British protectorate for 77 years from 16th Dec 1887 to 26th July 1965.

Maldives with this little known but long-standing history, cultural activities seem to be mixed.  Some of our cultural activities include a dance music known as “Boduberu”, which has its origins in East Africa

Other traditional dances include “Bandiya jehun”  which is performed only by women and is known to have been an adaptation of Indian pot dance

 

Boduberu
Bodu Beru:  Images grab from maldives.net.mv

 

Bandiya Jehun
Bandiya Jehun dance:  Images from maldivesroyalfamily.com

 

Maldives cuisine reflects influence of India and Sri Lanka. Traditional Maldivian cuisine is mainly made of fish, rice or grains. Most commonly known as Garudhiya is vastly consumed and usually prepared from skipkack tuna

 

 

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