Pattalattanan in Tamil had meant a consecrated king according to the Tamil dictionary Yálpana Periyakarádi (655 & 656). Taylor too translates Pattangatti as ‘crowned’ (Taylor 1835) which obviously means a King or a sub king. In ancient India too Patta and Pattâvali (note similarity to Patabëndi ) had meant ‘titles of honour’ (South Indian inscriptions I.159 fn.1. Indian Antiquities XI.245 fn.)
As shown above, it was not the crown but the forehead-plate that was part of a Sri Lankan king’s regalia, the five insignia of royalty (pancha kakudha bhanda). As such the tying of the forehead-plate was the Sri Lankan equivalent of the European coronation. The great chronicle of Sri Lanka, the Mahavamsa, calls the royal inauguration ceremony Pattabanda Mahothsava (The ceremony of tying the forehead-plate). In Chapter 67, verse 91 the Mahavamsa describes how King Parakramabahu the great was inaugurated by tying the forehead-plate (Mahavamsa 67.91) This practice appears to have continued right up to the end of the Sri Lankan royal line as John Davy describes the installation of a Kandyan Monarch in the same way (Davy 1821.123)
The Portuguese who arrived in Sri Lanka in the early 16th century described the Patabändas / Patangatims at the time of their arrival as “Kinglets (subkings) of the Karávas who controlled not only one village but sometimes the whole coast as a master or ruler” (Valignano 1577. Perniola 82). Other Portuguese writers, Joaõ de Barrows (1520) and Castan Heda (1528), refer to five Kings stationed at important coastal towns, their ears laden with jewels and claiming relationship with the King of Kotte. (Ferguson 1506, JRASCB XIX.283 -400) These five kings were evidently the Patabändas, the Kinglets of the Karávas referred to by others.
King John III of Portugal says the following in his letter of 20th March 1557 to his guardian of the religious order: “I am much pleased to rejoice at the news you give me of how our lord has been pleased through the agency of the members of your order to illuminate the Nation of the Carias who you say live in the ports of Ceylon, and are said to exceed 70,000 souls, whose captain named Patangatim accompanied them” (Queyroz 327).
The Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz describes an early Portuguese battle in Sri Lanka as follows: “At that time the Kinglet of the Careas appeared with the whole might of that kingdom which exceeded 20,000......” (Queyroz 631). Valentyn too notes that the chiefs of Sri Lanka were from among the Karávas (Valentyn 1726). During this period, Chem Nayque and other Karavas were the Naval commanders of the Nayaks of Tanjore (Queyroz, 638). But in addition to manning the Navy, the Karavas have also been handling trade activities for them. For example the Patangatim of Mannar had been responsible in the early 1600s for arranging the sale of pearls in the Nayaks’ territory in India. (Pieris The Kingdom of Jaffnapatnam )
It should however be noted here that the early Portuguese historians refer to the Patabändas as Kinglets, meaning sub-kings, and not as mere chiefs as they later came to be referred to after a century of European rule.
The Jesuit annual letter of 29/12/1606 from Cochin states that the early Portuguese missionaries first concentrated on converting the Karava Patabändas as they were the leaders and rulers of the people. They were used as examples for other gentiles to follow (Perniola II.254) The Portuguese have documented many instances where hundreds of others converted, following the Patabända’s conversion (Perera. C.A. & L. R. 1916 II.24).
The European invaders as well as Sri Lankan Kings had approached the Patabändas for assistance in wars. As a result the Mahapatabëndá of Colombo was beheaded and quartered by the Portuguese in 1574 for treasonable communication with King Mayadunne (AD 1535 - 1581) of Sítáwake (Queyroz 424) In 1656 the Patabända of Coquille (Koggala) was approached by King Rajasingha II (AD 1635 - 1687) of Kandy for assistance (Pieris Portuguese Era II.454)
The principal kinglets were the Mahapatabëndás who were referred to as Patamgatim Major and Patamgatim Mor by the Portuguese. Two of the Mahapatabëndás of Negombo in 1613 were: Kurukulasuriya Dom Gaspar da Cruz and Varnakulasuriya Afonco Perera (Raghavan, 1961.33. The Portuguese Tombo of 1615 which deals with the ports, villages and lands on the coast from Puttalam to Dondra, lists the chiefs of each village along with their land holdings, crops and revenue. It is noteworthy that the chiefs of most coastal villages which included Negombo , Chilaw , Kammmala , Kalutara, Maggona and Donrda were Patabëndás(Pieris Ceylon Littoral)
According to Philip Baldaeus Dona Catherina , the sole heiress of the Kandyan kingdom was also a Patabenda and bore the name Maha Bëndigé (Baldaeus VIII.681). Baldaeus also refers to two other Patabëndigé princesses, Malabanda Wandige and Rokech Wandige (Baldaeus I) and the Patabëndigé vice-admiral Wandige Nay Hanni who was a nephew of the Karáva Prince of Uva, Kuruvita Rala (Baldaeus XIII.668 & 692).
We know that the forehead-plate continued to denote nobility even as late as the beginning of the Dutch period as a Dutch envoy of 1612 refers to the ‘gold headband of a Sinhala dignitary’ (JRASCB.XXXVII 1946 No.102.49). The A.D. 1691 tombstone of Patangatim Francisco Piris’ wife from St. Thomas Church, Jinthupitiya illustrated here, shows that the Karava heraldic symbols: Pearl umbrella, Palm tree, caparisoned Elephant and Fish symbol were used even on their tombstones to denote their status.(JRASCB XXII 387)
A few of the Patabändas who figure in the late Dutch period tombos are: Chikoe Patabändigé Thome Silva Kurukulasuriya, Pattangatyn of Kalutara, A. D. 1760; Mahabadugé Jasientoe Fernando Kurukula Jayasuriya, joint Pattangattyn of Barberyn. A. D. 1759; Bastian Pieris Rasa Manukula Warnakula Ditadipadicear, joint Pattangattyn of Colombo, A. D. 1761; Steeven Fernando Weerawarna Kurukulasuriya, Pattangattyn over the Rue Grande (Grand Street, Negombo), A. D. 1763; Luis Fernando Varuna Kurukula Áditya Adapannár. Pattangattyn of Colombo, A. D. 1769 (Ceylon Dutch Records: 785/120, 785/543, 2284/91, 2443/75 and 1034/607. Raghavan 1961.44 & 45). In 1762 the Dutch refer to the Basnáyaka of Devundara as Bandáranáike Suriya Pattangatyn (Secret minutes of the Dutch political Council, Wednesday 22nd September 1762) Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (AD. 1798 - 1815) the last king of Kandy, is also described as a Pattangattyn in a South Indian source (Taylor 1835 Kuruksetra II.26).
The gradual displacement of the traditional Patabëndigé sub-kings of Sri Lanka during the colonial period is clearly evident in contemporary colonial records. The Patabëndas who figured prominently in early Portuguese records as kinglets, are reduced to chiefs by the end of the Portuguese era. They fade away gradually during the Dutch period and are hardly mentioned during the British period. See Timeline of the Karavas
Abeydíra Gunaratne Patabändigé, Abeysúriya Patabändigé, Abeyavarna Patabändigé, Abeydíra Viravaruna Patabändigé, Alut Patabändigé, Arketti Patabändigé, Árukutti Patabändigé, Abedíra Jayawickrama Liyana Patabändigé, Asuramána Patabändigé, Bála Patabändigé, Chandiram Patabändigé, Colomba Patabändigé, Colomba Mahá Patabändigé, Edirivíra Jayasúriya Liyana Patabändigé, Edirivíra Jayasékera Kurundu Patabändigé, Edirivíra Patabändigé, Ediriwickremasúriya Patabändigé, Gikiyana Patabändigé, Gintota Sarukkala Patabändigé, Gunasekera Árachchi Patabändigé, Hettiyá Patabändigé, Ingiri Mahá Patabändigé, Jayasekera Patabändigé, Jasenthu Patabändigé, Jayawardhana Sembukutti Patabändigé, Jayawickrema Patabändigé, Jayavira Liyana Patabändigé, Jayawarna Patabändigé, Hátagala Patabändigé, Kahakachchi Patabändigé, Kálingapura Patabändigé, Kalutara Patabändigé, Kánchipura Patabändigé, Káriya Karavana Mahá Patabändigé, Káriyawasam Patabändigé, Kodippili Patabändigé, Kosma Patabändigé, Kotte Patabändigé, Kumára Patabändigé, Kurana Patabändigé, Kurukulasuriya Patabändigé, Kalutantri Patabändigé, Mututantri Patabändigé, Mahá Patabändigé,Loku Patabändigé, Lamábadu Varnakulasúriya Patabändigé, Manampéri Mahá Patabendirálalágé, Maha Marakkala Patabändigé, Módera Patabändigé, Mahá Nátha Patabändigé, Málamí Patabändigé, Mathangavíra Patabändigé, Moratu Patabändigé, Nilavíra Patabändigé, Nágasúriya Kumára Patabändigé, Panchashíla Patabändigé, Patabëndi Maddumágé, Patabendi Maha Vidánagé, Penkutti Patabändigé, Podi Marakkala Patabändigé, Rajapaksa Patabändigé, Ran Patabändigé, Rana Patabändigé, Ranavíra Patabändigé, Rénda Patabändigé, Ratnavíra Patabändigé, Samarakon Patabändigé, Sinhapura Patabändigé, Súriya Patabändigé, Vijayapura Patabändigé, Vijesekera Patabändigé, Vijesuriya Patabendi Muhandiramgé, Varunakulasuriya Patabändigé, Varnasuriya Patabändigé, Veeraratna Jayasúriya Árachchi Patabändigé, Veerawarna Patabändigé, Vira Konda Patabändigé, Vitárana Patabändigé, Weerakon Patabändigé, Weerasuriya Patabändigé, Wickremasuriya Patabändigé, Wickrema Kodippili Patabändigé, Wijayanáyaka Patabändigé, Wijeweera Patabändigé, Yápané Patabändigé