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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.
• 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 early Maldivians developed their own alphabet called Eveyla Akuru.
This was the first alphabet of the Maldivians and was used before
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.
Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of
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
• 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
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.
• 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
• These European traders occasionally meddled with local
• 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.
• 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.
• The Maldivian monarchs were granted a good measure of
self-governance by the British when they became a
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
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