Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kantaka Cetiya

Kantaka Cetiya, Mihintale, Sri Lanka
Kantaka Cetiya (also known as Kanthaka Dagoba/Chethiya) is a Stupa located in the ancient Buddhist complex monastery of Mihintale, Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. The Stupa is notable as it has best and the most ancient ornamental frontispieces (Vahalkada) found in the country.

One of the two inscriptions mentioning the name of King Mahadhathika Mahanaga (9-21 A.D.) at Mihintale is found on a rock surface near the Kantaka Stupa (Sirisoma, 1990). This inscription records the donations made to the Kataca Ceta (Kantaka Cetiya) by two kings, King Tisa (Bhathika Tissa) and King Naka [(Mahadhathika Mahanaga) Sirisoma, 1990]. From the Stupa name given in this inscription, it has been believed that the Stupa now called Kantaka Cetiya is the same as the Kantaka Cetiya that is mentioned in the chronicle Mahawamsa.
Kantaka Cetiya Rock Inscription Kantaka Cetiya Rock Inscription
Scripts      : Later Brahmi
Language : Old Sinhala
Content : The great King Bhatikatissa gave the
revenues  from   the  land  and  water  taxes  of
Kabavika tank to the Kantaka Cetiya. The great
King Mahadathika Mahanaga having purchased
Balayatha-Gamakavi  tank gave  to the Kantaka
Cetiya  the  revenues  from  the  land and water
Reference : The information board at the site
by the Department of Archaeology and Ministry
of National Heritage and Cultural Affairs
Kantaka Cetiya Cave Inscription
Period : 3rd Century B.C.-1st Century A.D.
Scripts      : Early Brahmi
Language : Old Sinhala
Transcript : Parumaka Naga puta Asaliya 
lene agata anagata catudisika sagaye
Translation : The  cave  of Asali, son  of
the chief Naga is donated  to the Sangha
of  the four quarters, present and absent
Reference :  Paranavitana, S., 1970; The
information   board   at   the  site   by  the
Department of Archaeology and Ministry
of National Heritage and Cultural Affairs
Kantaka Cetiya Cave Inscription
According to Mahawamsa, King Devanampiya Tissa (307-367 B.C.) had refurbished sixty-eight caves (present Ataseta Len) in the neighborhood of the Kantaka Cetiya for the use of the monks headed by Arahant Mahinda. Also, during the reign of King Lajja Tissa (119-109 B.C.) a Chatra stone (a stone umbrella) had been added to the Stupa. 

Kantaka Cetiya Stupa is 40 ft in height and has a peripheral length of about 425 ft. Frontispieces which are at the cardinal points of the Stupa are formed of horizontal bands separated by string-courses (left photograph). The flank of the frontispieces is adorned with limestone stelaes which contain the oldest specimens of the plastic art of the country (Paranavitana, 1950). The stone works of Kantaka Cetiya are dated to about the beginning of the Christian era. Two terracotta figures belonging to the 5th century have also been found in the temple premises (Paranavitana, 1950).

1) Paranavitana, S., 1950. Sinhalese Art and Culture. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 98(4822), pp.588-605.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.2.
3) Sirisoma, M.H.; [Wijesekera, N (Editor in chief)], 1990. Brahmi inscriptions of Sri Lanka from 3rd century B.C. to 65 A.D. Archaeological department centenary (1890-1990): Inscriptions. Commissioner of Archaeology. pp.28, 35.

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