WHAT IS CIVILIZATION? Civilization can be defined as a stage of human social development and organization which is considered advanced by the standards of that time. Civilization is therefore a continuous process which has been taking place since the earliest human societies. A society is a group of people living together and dependent on one another. There are five key elements or components of civilization. COMPONENTS OF CIVILIZATION • In the Maldives power is centralized in Male, in the hands of the President. • The People’s Majlis, the Supreme court and their representatives are also housed in Male THE FIVE COMPONENTS OF CIVILIZATION WITH REFERENCE TO MALDIVES THE WRITING OF MALDIVES • The early Maldivians developed their own alphabet called Eveyla Akuru. • This was the first alphabet of the Maldivians and was used before 1238M. • Between 1238 and 1780, an alphabet called Dhives Akuru was also used. • The alphabet that is used today is called the Thaana. It began to be used in the early 18th century. • Thaana, Taana or Tāna is the modern writing system of the Dhivehi language spoken in the Maldives. • Thaana has characteristics of both an abugida (diacritic, vowel-kille strokes) and a true alphabet (all vowels are written), with consonants derived from indigenous and Arabic numerals, and vowels derived from the vowel diacritics of the Arabic abjad. • Its orthography is largely phonemic. • An orthography is a set of conventions for how to write a language. It includes rules of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation. • The oldest written sample of the Thaana script is found in the island of Kanditheemu in Northern Miladhunmadulu Atoll. • It is inscribed on the door posts of the main Hukuru Miskiy (Friday mosque) of the island and dates back to 1008 AH (AD 1599) and 1020 AH (AD 1611) when the roof of the building were built. • It was renewed during the reigns of Ibrahim Kalaafaan (Sultan Ibrahim III) and Hussain Faamuladeyri Kilege (Sultan Hussain II) respectively. THE RELIGION OF MALDIVES • Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. • The main events and festivals of Maldivian life follow the Muslim Calendar. • From infancy children are taught the Arabic alphabet. • Religious education is provided both at home and at school. Islam is part of the school curriculum and is taught concurrently with other subjects. • Buddhism in the Maldives was the predominant religion at least until the 12th century CE. • It is not clear how Buddhism was introduced into the islands although there are number of competing theories. • The predominant view is that it was introduced with the expansion of Sinhalese people from neighboring Sri Lanka who are predominantly Buddhist. • Before embracing Buddhism as their way of life, Maldivians had practised an ancient form of Hinduism, ritualistic traditions known as Śrauta, in the form of venerating the Surya (the ancient ruling caste were of Aadheetta or Suryavanshi origins CENTRALIZED GOVERNANCE IN MALDIVES • Since very ancient times, the Maldives were ruled by kings (Radun) and occasionally queens (Ranin). • For over 1400 years Maldives was ruled by Buddhist Kings. • Buddhism is thought to have spread to the country in the early 3rd century at the time of the Buddhist Emperor Asoka the Great. • Emperor Asoka’s territory covered Afghanistan, Central Asia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. • Buddhism became the dominant religion during this time. • Though the era of Buddhist rule is briefly mentioned in most historical accounts, however it was during this period that the culture of Maldives as we know it today developed and flourished. • Historically Maldives has had a strategic importance because of its location on the major marine routes of the Indian Ocean. • Maldives' nearest neighbors are Sri Lanka and India, both of which have had cultural and economic ties with Maldives for centuries. • The Maldives provided the main source of cowrie shells, then used as a currency throughout Asia and parts of the East African coast. • This is why it was important to the Buddhist empire. COLONIAL ERA • After the 16th century, when European colonial powers took over much of the trade in the Indian Ocean. • First were the Portuguese, and followed by the Dutch, and the French. • These European traders occasionally meddled with local politics. • The Portuguese occupied Maldives in1558 and attempted to introduce Christianity but were eventually driven out by a revolt led by a local leader Muhammad Thakurufaanu AlAzam and his two brothers. NATIONALISM IN MALDIVES • The defeat and expulsion of the Portuguese by Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam is now commemorated as the National Day in Maldives. • The Dutch also attempted to control Maldives from Ceylon in the mid seventeenth century. • The were forced out of Ceylon by the British who went on to extend their control to Maldives. • However, these interferences ended when the Maldives became a British Protectorate in the 19th century. INDEPENDENCE IN MALDIVES • The Maldivian monarchs were granted a good measure of self-governance by the British when they became a protectorate. • Maldives gained total independence from the British on 26 July 1965. • In a national referendum in 1968 the Maldivians abolished the sultanate and established a Republic. REPUBLIC OF THE MALDIVES • Maldives is a Republic which uses a system of governance known as constitutional democracy. • The country has a parliament known as the People’s Majlis from which members are appointed into cabinet posts as ministers forming the government of the country. MALDIVES AND THE COLD WAR • The British continued to maintain an air base on the island of Gan in the southernmost atoll until 1976. • The British departed in 1976 at the height of the Cold War. • The departure of the British immediately triggered foreign speculation about the future of the air base. • Apparently the Soviet Union made a move to request the use of the base, but the Maldives refused. THE ARTS, ARCHITECTURE AND INFRASTRUCTURES OF MALDIVES • Maldives have a heritage of arts and crafts which has been passed on from generation to generation. • This includes stone and wooden carving, mat making and building of boats. Wood and Stone carvings • Evidence of such skill can be seen on tombstones in the old cemeteries and fine stone carvings found in mosques . • Wooden lacquer that ware exclusively produced in Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll are the most distinctive of Maldivian handicrafts. • Liye Laajehun as it is called in Dhivehi involves the process of shaping and hollowing out pieces of wood to form beautifully crafted boxes, containers and ornamental objects. Made from the local fauna. Mat making • Beautiful red mats are woven throughout the country, the most famous of which are those that are woven by the women of Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. • Thundu Kunaa as they are known in Dhivehi ranges in size from that of a place mat to a full size single mattress. • The women of Gadhdhoo collect the reeds called haa from the nearby island of Fioari. • They are dried in the sun and stained with natural dyes, the color varying fromfawn to black. • These mats with their intricate abstract designs are woven on a handloom according to the imagination and skill of the weaver. Boat building in Maldives • Maldives also has a long tradition of building boats locally known as the dhonis. • Only the tools used in the making of the boats have changed but the basic design has remained the same. • The boats are still being built without a documented plan but the design and symmetry of the boat emerges as the boat is being built. • Imported hardwoods are used in the place of coconut wood, which was used in place of coconut wood, which was used in the past to make the hull. • Copper rivets are used to hold the planks together instead of coir, which was used for the purpose even half a century ago. • The square sail made of coconut fronds gave way to a triangular lateen sail. • Even though this is still considered essential and is carried on board, it is used only during emergencies or to ease the strain of the engines. • Almost all Dhonis are now driven by diesel power. • Dhonis are mainly used for fishing and provide the livehood for a large proportion of the population. Others are modified to be used for transportation of passengers. Maldivian Architecture • The more developed areas of Maldives such as Male’ no longer have any structures which still contain traditional Maldivian architecture. • This can be seen in several other parts of the island nation. • Keeping with the simple and laid-back culture of Maldives, the traditional architecture is also one which promotes simplicity. • A typical traditional house in Maldives would be built with coral cement, with thatched coconut or palm branches forming the roof of the house. • The houses are not grandly decorated, but simply furnished which are traits of traditional Maldivian culture. • An interesting feature of traditional Maldivian housing architecture is that the kitchen, or the ‘badhige’ is located separately from the main compound. • The bathrooms of these houses are also separately built away from the main living compound, and are usually large and open air. • The forms of lighting and ventilation in these strictures too are interesting features to observes which portray the unique style of architecture. • These architectural features are unique to the traditional architectural style of Maldives, offers a glimpse of the true simplistic and island culture that prevails in Maldives. • In some islands influences of other cultures can also be seen in some of the architecture such as on the remains of Bhuddhist temples. • As a result of the conversion to Islam a prominent feature of Maldivian landscape are the mosques which manifest Arabic designs and architecture.