The name given to that district in
Ceylon where Vijaya landed after leaving Suppāraka (Mhv.vi.47; Dpv. ix.30). It is
said to have been so called because when Vijaya's followers, having disembarked
from the ship, sat down there, wearied, resting their hands on the ground, they
found them coloured by the red dust that lay there. Later on Vijaya founded his
capital in Tambapanni, and following that the whole island came to bear the same
name (Dpv.vii.38-42). Tambapanni was originally inhabited by Yakkhas, having
their capital at Sirīsavatthu (q.v.). The Valāhassa Jātaka (J.ii.129) speaks of
a Tambapannisara. According to the Samyutta Commentary (ii.83; but in VbhA.p.444
it is spoken of as tiyojana satika), the Tambapannidīpa was one hundred leagues
Anurādhapura formed the Majjhimadesa in
Tambapannidīpa, the rest being the Paccantimadesa (AA.i.265).
In Asoka's Rock Edicts II. and XIII.
Tambapanni is mentioned as one of the Pratyanta desas, together with Coda,
Pāndya, Satiyaputta, Keralaputta, and the realm of Antiyaka Yonarāja, as an
unconquered territory with whose people Asoka was on friendly terms. Vincent
Smith (Asoka (3rd edn.), p.163; but see Ind. Antiq., 1919, p.195f ) identifies
this, not with Ceylon, but with the river Tāmraparni in Tinnevelly.