Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Fa-Hien Lena Cave

Pahiyangala
Fa Hien Cave (also known as Fa-Hien Lena Cave, Pahiyangala Lena, Fahiyanlena) is a prehistoric cave situated in Yatagampitiya village in Bulathsinhala, Kalutara District, Sri Lanka. Named after the Chinese Buddhist monk "Fa Hien", the cave is considered a very crucial locale for understanding the physical and cultural evolution of modern humans in Asia. The cave is also the site of the earliest fossil appearance of Homo sapiens in South Asia (Langley et al., 2020; Wedage et al., 2019).

The cave
Fa Hien cave can accommodate about 3 000 persons and therefore is considered as one of the largest caves in Sri Lanka (Abeyawardana, 2002). Located about 130 m above mean sea level (Wedage et al., 2019), the cave is about 150 ft high, 175 ft wide and has a length of 282 ft (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Excavations
The cave was first investigated in 1968 by the then Assistant Commissioner of Archaeology, S. U. Deraniyagala, when it was being used as a Buddhist cave temple (Perera, 2014; Perera, 2017). In 1986, W. H. Wijeyapala, the then Assistant Commissioner of the Archaeological Department, commenced excavations at the site at two locations; one was in the main large cave (Shelter A) and the other in a smaller rock shelter (Shelter B) located approximately 20 m east of the Shelter A (Perera, 2017; Wedage et al., 2019). In association with Sri Lanka's Department of Archaeology, the eminent scholar Prof. Kenneth A. R. Kennedy of Cornell University in the USA involved in these studies (Abeyawardana, 2002)

More scientific excavations were done at the site by various local and foreign scholars later.

Findings
Human skeletons, microlith stone tools and the remains of hunted animals have been found from Fa Hien cave deposited in layers ranging from c. 38 000 to 4 500 cal BP (Perera, 2014). Human skeletal remains of over 9 individuals, dated to ca. 38 000, 37 000, 29 000, 8 000, 7 700, 5 500 BP, have been unearthed from the site (Deraniyagala, 2007). These human remains represent Sri Lanka's Mesolithic human, popularly termed "Balangoda Man" (Deraniyagala, 2007).

Excavations in 1986, and in 2009-2012 have revealed a secure sequence of human habitation deposits dating from c. 48 046 to 4 422 years ago, including reports of South Asia’s oldest habitation deposit associated with anatomically modern humans (Perera, 2017). In 2012, a complete human skeleton believed to be thousands of years old was discovered from Fa Hien cave and it was the first time that a full human skeleton as old as this has been found from the country.

The microlith tools discovered are mainly made of quartz and bones (Langley et al., 2020; Wedage et al., 2019). Evidence of the hunted animals has also been found from the site. Although a wide range of animals have been consumed by the inhabitants of Fa Hien cave, most of them were small mammals such as monkeys and squirrels. Remains of larger mammals such as Sambar and pigs have also been recorded. Evidence is there to prove that the early humans had brought salt here in about 20 000 years ago from coastal areas located over 100 km away.

Beads of marine shells, shark vertebrae, and shark teeth are also among the recorded findings of Fa Hien cave. Shell necklaces discovered from the site indicate that personal adornment was practiced by Balangoda Man from thousands of years ago.

In 2020, a research carried out by a group of foreign and local scholars, showed that occupants of the Fa Hien cave had developed bow and arrow technology 48 000 BP (Langley et al., 2020). This represents the earliest usage of this technology outside of Africa to date.

Pahiyangala cave temple
Local people connect the history of this site to an exploring Chinese Buddhist monk named Faxian (or Fa-Hien/ Fa Hsien) who visited Sri Lanka during the period of King Mahanama in the 5th century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2002). It is believed that he stayed in this place for some time during his journey on the island. However, no evidence has been found from this site to prove this local belief.

After the discovery of the cave over 200 years ago, the site gradually became a Buddhist shrine of worship (Abeyawardana, 2002). 

Chinese aids
During the 1980s, the area including the Pahiyangala was developed with the aids received from China.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.136.
2) Deraniyagala, S.U., 2007. The prehistory and protohistory of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. pp.57,60.
3) Langley, M.C., Amano, N., Wedage, O., Deraniyagala, S., Pathmalal, M.M., Perera, N., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M.D. and Roberts, P., 2020. Bows and arrows and complex symbolic displays 48,000 years ago in the South Asian tropics. Science Advances, 6(24), p.eaba3831.
4) Perera, H.N., 2014. Prehistoric Sri Lanka. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, pp.23-41.
5) Perera, N., 2017. Fa Hien-Lena Prehistoric Cave – Earliest Modern Humans From South Asia. (From an article published on Archaeology.lk, on 20 December 2017).
6) Wedage, O., Picin, A., Blinkhorn, J., Douka, K., Deraniyagala, S., Kourampas, N., et al. (2019) Microliths in the South Asian rainforest ~45-4 ka: New insights from Fa-Hien Lena Cave, Sri Lanka. PLoS ONE 14(10):e0222606.

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Baddhasima Prasada, Polonnaruwa

Baddhasima Prasada
Baddhasima Prasada (Baddaseema Prasada) is an Uposathaghara (the chapter house) situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. This is considered as the largest Uposathaghara in Sri Lanka.

History
Baddhasima Prasada is the Uposathaghara (the chapter house) belongs to the Alahana Pirivena complex (Jayasuriya, 2016). This was used by Buddhist monks for the ceremony of confession and for the performance of various Sangha-Kammas. It is located on the highest terrace of the Alahana Pirivena complex (Jayasuriya, 2016). 

According to the chronicle Mahawamsa, this was a twelve storied building built by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) for the ecclesiastical activities of the Buddhist monks (Wikramagamage, 2004). 

The building
Baddhasima Prasada
Remaining pillars, brick works, and flight of steps suggest that this was originally a storied building (Jayasuriya, 2016). The building consists of four terraces, viz; the uppermost terrace, the 2nd terrace, the 3rd terrace, and the lower terrace. In the uppermost terrace, a central platform, four stone pedestals, and Seema stones (boundary stones) are identified. The central platform is said to be used to place the relic casket while reading the Pratimoksha (code of disciplines) by four Buddhist monks seated on the stone pedestals facing the cardinal directions.

Two funerary Stupas which are believed to be the monuments of a king and queen are found built on a raised platform near to the Baddhasima Prasada building (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Baddhasima Prasada Baddhasima Prasada Baddhasima Prasada
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References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.82-83.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.218. 

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sri Sugatharama Viharaya, Thibbotugoda

Sugatharama Viharaya
Sri Sugatharama Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Thibbotugoda in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Image house
Thibbotugoda Sugatharamaya
The image house is the main attraction of this temple with an archaeological significance. It consists of an inner shrine and a narrow, open ambulatory around it.

The entrance of the image house is adorned with a Makara Thorana (the Dragon arch) and the figures of guards and deities. A seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha, are found inside the inner shrine. Two standing statues of Vishnu and Kataragama with Makara Thoranas are also found facing each other at both left and right walls. The inside walls have been decorated with Buddhist murals belonging to the Kandyan tradition. The outer walls of the inner shrine contain no sculptures or murals.

The image house has been conserved by the Department of Archaeology on 23 July 2012.

A protected site
The image house situated in the Sri Sugatharama Vihara premises in 261 B, Thibbotugoda Grama Niladhari Wasama of the Gampaha Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

Sri Sugatharama Viharaya, Thibbotugoda Sri Sugatharama Viharaya, Thibbotugoda
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Welipillewa Purana Viharaya

Welipillewa Viharaya
Welipillewa Purana Viharaya (or Welipillewa Sri Maha Purana Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple in Welipillewa village near Ganemulla in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. 

Image house
The image house is the main attraction of this temple with an archaeological significance. It consists of an inner shrine and a narrow ambulatory around it. The main statue of the inner shrine is a seated Buddha in the meditating posture. Four standing Buddha statues are also found facing each other at both left and right walls. 

The walls as well as the ceiling of the ambulatory have been adorned with the murals depicting Buddhist themes. Of them, the earliest paintings belonging to the Kandyan tradition are found on the inner walls of the ambulatory. They include murals depicting certain incidents from the life of the Buddha and Jataka stories (stories of past births of the Buddha) such as Vessantara, Dahamsoda, etc.. Solosmasthana (16 sacred Buddhist sites), Suvisivivarana (24 assurances predicting Buddha-hood), Mara Parajaya (conquest of Mara) are among the other paintings found here.

A protected site
The image house situated in Velipillewa Purana Vihara premises in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Gampaha is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

Mara Parajaya (conquest of Mara) Welipillewa paintings Welipillewa paintings
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Pethiyagoda Paramartha Dharmakara Piriven Viharaya, Kelaniya

Pethiyagoda Paramartha Dharmakara Piriven Viharaya
Pethiyagoda Paramartha Dharmakara Piriven Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kelaniya, Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. 

History
The history of Pethiyagoda Viharaya runs back to the 18th century. The image house of the temple which contains the sculptures and paintings of Kandyan tradition is said to be built in 1747 A.D. (Chandrasoma, 2018). It is also considered as the second oldest Buddhist temple in the area after Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Chandrasoma, 2018).

Image house 
The image house is the main attraction of this temple with an archaeological significance. It has been constructed, according to the date mentioned above the entrance of the image house, in 1747 (2391 Buddhist era). According to the local people, this image house originally was a Tempita Viharaya but has been altered to the present state after it was flooded by the waters of the Kelani Ganga river in 1940 (Chandrasoma, 2018). 

The image house consists of two parts: the inner shrine and the outer ambulatory. The inner shrine is considered as the oldest part of the image house and it preserves a collection of paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan tradition (Chandrasoma, 2018). The outer ambulatory has been added to it later.

The image house was conserved by the Archaeological Department on 26 March 2018.

A protected site
Ancient image house with paintings and sculptures in Dharmakara Pirivena premises in Pethiyagoda village in Kelaniya Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

References
1) Chandrasoma, S., 2018. Sanrakshanaya kerunu Kelaniya-Pethiyagoda perani vihara mandiraya janapathi athin vivurtha kere (In Sinhala). Dayada Newsletter. July 2018. 12th edition. Department of Archaeology. p.28.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.122.

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Kalpitiya Fort

Kalpitiya Fort
Kalpitiya Fort is an old Dutch fort situated in Kalpitiya, Puttalam District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of the Kalpitiya fort runs back to the 17th century. The fort was built by the Dutch when they control most of the coastal areas of the island during the period 1640-1796. Designed in 1666, the construction work of the fort was completed in 1676. The fort is said to be built on the spot where the Portuguese had a stockade and a Jesuit chapel (Mandawala, 2012).

However, with the advent of the British,  the fort was lost to the Dutch. The British used the fort mainly for trading along with the fort in Mannar.

After the British, the fort was neglected for many years until it was turned into a Sri Lanka Navy base for training and operational activity during the period of Sri Lanka Civil War [(1983-2009) Mandawala, 2012].

The fort
The fort has been constructed at the entry point to the Puttalam lagoon. It is nearly square in shape with four bastions on each corner.  Of them, the two bastions on the lagoon side are smaller than the other two on the island side. 

The walls of the fort are about 4 m high and have been constructed with coral & limestone from the sea and sand & soil from the land (Mandawala, 2012). There is only one entrance to the fort facing the lagoon side. The arch-shaped entrance has a pandol like a pediment with a belfry at the top. The yellow bricks that have been used in the arch of the entrance are said to be brought specially from Holland. Above the entrance is a VOC (Dutch East India Company) emblem along with two figures of elephants and a palm-tree. The two elephant figures are facing each other and between them is the palm-tree figure. It is said that the two elephant figures represent the strength while the palm-tree represents the fertility of the region. 

Inside the fort, there are remains of several buildings and structures including a Portuguese church, a prison, a commander's house, barrack rooms, two tunnels, and two wells (Mandawala, 2012). The gables of the buildings are similar to a church and that is said to be a tactic by the Dutch to dissuade enemies. Two hidden tunnels that could be used in case of withdrawal have been identified inside the fort. One tunnel was leading to the seaside while other was running to the Dutch Reform Church which is located about 400 m distance. However, presently, these tunnels are blocked and inaccessible.

Kalpitiya Fort

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Attribution

References
1) Mandawala, P.B., 2012. Sri Lanka: Defending the military heritage; legal, administrative and financial challenges. Defending the military heritage; legal, financial and administrative issues. Reports from the Seminar 16 – 17 May, 2011, in Karlskrona, Sweden, organised by ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Legal, Financial and Administrative Issues (ICLAFI) and the Swedish Fortifications Agency of Sweden. pp.98-105.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

Degaldoruwa Viharaya
Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Degaldoruwa cave temple) is a Buddhist temple situated in Amunugama in Sirimalwatta, Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

History
This temple is said to be established in 1748 as a tribute for Morathota Rajaguru Maha Nayaka Thera, the teacher of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1782 A.D.) when he was a child (Rajapakse, 2016). However, the construction work of the temple was completed by the king's brother Rajadhi Rajasinha [(reigned 1782–1798 A.D.) Rajapakse, 2016]. It is said that King Kirti Sri Rajasingha while constructing the Galmaduwa Viharaya had been living in the Degaldoruwa cave and had devoted his attention to improve it (Abeywardana, 2004).

According to the details in Degaldoruwa Sannasa (a royal grant by King Rajadhi Rajasinha that gives in detail the work done to set up the Degaldoruwa temple), the placing of the eyes in the temple's statues was done in Saka era 1683 (1761 A.D.) and Rajadhi Rajasinha was instrumental in this construction (Abeywardana, 2004).

The Hewisi Mandapaya (the drumming hall) of Degaldoruwa Viharaya is said to be a later addition by Meegastenne Adhikaram (Abeywardana, 2004).

Image house
Degaldoruwa Viharaya
The image house of Degaldoruwa temple is famous among the people for its well-preserved Kandyan era paintings. It belongs to the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha and has been built by enlarging a small cave located on the western slope of the Degaldoruwa rock (Abeywardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).  It consists of three sections, viz; Athul-kutiya (the inner chamber), Meda-kutiya (the middle chamber) and Palamu-kutiya [(the front chamber) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009]. 

The Palamu-kutiya is the first section of the image house. The Meda-kutiya which can be entered through a carved wooden Makara Thorana (the Dragon Arch) preserves a collection of wall paintings belonging to the Kandyan period. The paintings depict the scenes from the Jātaka tales (stories that tell about the previous 550 lives of the Buddha) such as Vessantara, Maha Suthasoma, Sattubhatta and, Maha seelava (Abeywardana, 2004). The roof of the Meda-kutiya is held by carved stone pillars.

An arched shaped entrance with a unique Sandakada Pahana (a moonstone) provide access to the Athul-kutiya. Seven statues of Buddha in seated (2 statues), standing (4 statues), and reclining postures are found inside this shrine (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The walls as well as the ceiling of the rock cave have been adorned with murals depicting the scenes from the life of the Buddha, other Buddhist themes, and various decorative motifs. Sath-sathiya (first seven weeks after the enlightenment), Solosmasthana (16 sacred Buddhist sites), Suvisivivarana (24 assurances predicting Buddha-hood) and, Mara Parajaya (conquest of Mara) are some of the paintings found here (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The renowned artist named Devaragampola Silvatänna (an unordained monk) was responsible for these paintings (Abeywardana, 2004).

A protected site
The ancient image house, paintings, Pohaya Geya, Sangawasa (dwelling house) and the wall surrounding the Bodhi-tree belonging to the Amunugama Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Vihara premises in the Sirimalwatta, Pallegama, No. 633, Grama Niladhari Division in the Kundasale Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government Gazette notifications published on 22 May 1964 and 24 July 2009.

Degaldoruwa Viharaya.
Attribution
1) SL Kandy asv2020-01 img49 Degaldoruwa Temple by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
2) SL Kandy asv2020-01 img48 Degaldoruwa Temple by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
3) SL Kandy asv2020-01 img46 Degaldoruwa Temple by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3

References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.108-109.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.53.
3) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.99-100.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1612. 24 July 2009. p.1021.
5) The government notification. No: 14040. 22 May 1964.

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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Panduwasnuwara Raja Maha Viharaya

Panduwasnuwara Tempita Viharaya
Panduwasnuwara Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Pandukabhaya Pirivena) is a Buddhist temple situated in the ancient city of Panduwasnuwara in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

The temple is situated among the ruins of ancient Parakramapura (presently called Panduwasnuwara), the city of Dakkhinadesa founded by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) when he was the sub-king of this territory (Nicholas, 1963). The temple consists of a number of old monuments including a Kandyan era Tempita Vihara, and several pillar inscriptions belonging to the 9-10th centuries A.D.

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps and walls made of wattle and daub. Wattle walls make the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

The Panduwasnuwara Tempita Viharaya has been built upon 16 granite pillars of about 3 feet tall and can be accessed through a wooden flight of steps. The roof is four-sided and paved with flat clay tiles. In front of the Tempita Viharaya is a Mandapa with a two-sided roof held by 6 granite pillars.

The inside walls of the Tempita Viharaya are adorned with the paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan tradition. The main sculpture is a seated Buddha statue in the posture of Bumi-Sparsha Mudra. Two standing images of Buddha are also found on the left and south side of the shrine room.

Inscriptions
Pillar inscription near the Bodhi-tree of Panduwasnuwara Vihara
PanduwasnuwaraReign : Udaya II (887-898 A.D.)
Period: 9th century A.D.
Script & language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This records about an immunity grant made by the royal officers to the two villages named Nagala and Naranvita of the Kapugama District on the 10th day of the waxing moon in the month of Bak (March-April) during the 7th regnal year of King Udaya II. Also includes a decree preventing royal officers on state duty entering the villages.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

Panduwasnuwara pillar inscription of Dappula IV
This inscription has been brought to the temple from a place nearby sometime before the year 1912 (Ranawella, 2004). The four-sided pillar is 6.5 ft high and its capital ends with a vase-shaped carving (Ranawella, 2004). Writings are found on all the four sides of the pillar.
Reign : Dappula IV (923-935 A.D.)
Period: 10th century A.D.
Script & language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This inscription records about some grant of immunities by a Mahapa named Uda (Udaya) in respect of some lands owned by a monastery named Salameyvan-raj Kapugam Pirivena situated in a region named Riha-bima of the Southern Quarter and affiliated to the Maha Vihara (in Anuradhapura)
References: Ranawella, 2004.

A protected site
The Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth) building located in Panduwasnuwara Raja Maha Vihara premises in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Hettipola is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 13 March 1970.

Panduwasnuwara Viharaya Panduwasnuwara Temple of the Tooth Ruins of Panduwasnuwara Viharaya
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References
1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.104.
2) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon: Containing pillar inscriptions and slab inscriptions from 924 AD to 1017. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-30-5. pp.90-92.
3) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p. 12.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14897. 13 March 1970.

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pusulpitiya Raja Maha Viharaya

Pusulpitiya temple
Pusulpitiya Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kotmale in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

History
Pusulpitiya
The Mahabodhivamsa mentions Pusulpitiya as one of the 32 places where the saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi-tree in Anuradhapura was planted (Abeywardana, 2004). Therefore, the history of Pusulpitiya Bodhi-tree probably runs back to the 3rd century B.C. (Abeywardana, 2004).

Sacred Tooth Relic
Pusulpitiya temple is historically linked with the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The relic was sheltered here several times during the times of political unrest in the country (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). It is said that the relic was kept hidden here during the Maga’s rule (1215-1236 A.D.) at Polonnaruwa (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). Also, it was again found refuge here when the British entered the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815 (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). The relic was kept concealed in a fracture on a Sapu-tree (Michelia spp.) of this temple from 6 to 22 April 1815 before it was again taken to the British captured Kandy.

Folklore
Pusulpitiya name
Pusulpitiya inscription
A few legends are there associated with Pusulpitiya village and the temple (Abeywardana, 2004; Seneviratna & Polk, 1992; Wijesinghe, 2015). According to one folklore, an Indian Brahmin who was craving in taking treasures settled down in this area after his marriage. He abled to obtain a golden Pusul Gediya (an ash pumpkin) from a place of the Kotmale Oya after sacrificing his first-born child (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015). On the way to back with the treasure he recovered, the Brahmin felt thirst, and therefore, he kept the golden ash pumpkin aside and went in search of water. When returned, he saw that the golden ash pumpkin was missing and the earth has cracked at the place where he kept the pumpkin (Abeywardana, 2004). Grieved by this incident the Brahmin fell dead and thereafter this area was started to know among the people as Pusulpitiya (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015).

King Dutugemunu
Locals believe Pusulpitiya as the place where King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.) spent his childhood (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). The prince is said to have visited the temple to worship the Bodhi-tree (Abeywardana, 2004).

Arhant Maliyadeva
It is also believed that one of the four golden Buddha statues brought to the country from India by Arhant Maliyadeva was deposited in the Pusulpitiya temple (Abeywardana, 2004; Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). The other three statues are said to be kept at Vattarama Viharaya, Madanwala Viharaya, and Diddeniya Viharaya (Abeywardana, 2004).

Monuments
The old shrine room
PusulpitiyaThis shrine originally was a Tempita Vihara but the addition of walls between the outer pillars has converted it later to a two-storeyed building (Abeywardana, 2004). The upper floor consists of two sections and can be reached through a wooden flight of steps. The inner walls of the upper floor are decorated with paintings depicting Buddhist themes. Several valuable artifacts such as statues, caskets, manuscripts, brasswares are preserved in this shrine room. A Makara Thorana (a Dragon's arch) said to be donated to the temple by King Buvanekabahu IV (1344-1353 A.D.) is also found here (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015).

Vee-Atuwa
The Vee-Atuwa (the paddy store) found in the Pusulpitiya temple is said to be built to store the production of the paddy fields donated to the temple by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Wijesinghe, 2015]. The store is 9.23 m in length and 2.46 m in width and has been built on 12 short stone pillars (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015). It has been repaired in 1877 (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015).

Elephant tusks
The pair of elephants tusks presently preserved in the temple is thought to be the tusk of elephant "Kadol" and is said to be a donation by Sattambi of Agalawatta,  Ambatalawa (Abeywardana, 2004).

Besides the aforesaid monuments, a shrine room of Kanyan tradition, a small Stupa, three inscriptions, Siri Pathula Gal (Buddha's footprints), an old flight of steps have been found in the temple premises (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijesinghe, 2015).

References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-093-0. pp.225-227.
2) Seneviratna, A., and Polk, B., 1992. Buddhist monastic architecture in Sri Lanka: the woodland shrines. Abhinav Publications. pp.95-96.
3) Wijesinghe, T.K., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Nuwara Eliya Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-36-4. pp.62-64.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Vattarama Sri Arahanta Maliyadeva Viharaya

Kuda Viharaya
Vattarama Sri Arahanta Maliyadeva Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Wattarama in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. It has become popular among the devotees as the place where the Arhant Maliyadeva lived.

History
Vattarama Stupa
Arhant Maliyadeva
The temple is named "Sri Arahanta Maliyadeva Viharaya" due to its close association with Arhant Maliyadeva who is believed to be the last Arhant of Sri Lanka. It is said that Maliyadeva lived here and attained Arhantship at this shrine (Abeyawardana, 2002; Karunatilake, 2014).

King Gotabhaya (253-266 A.D.) is credited with the development of Vattarama Viharaya (Karunatilake, 2014). He founded Peradeni Nuwara, built tanks around it and thereafter developed Vattarama and donated surrounding villages/lands to the Viharaya under the guidance of Maliyadeva Thera (Karunatilake, 2014).  

It is also believed that one of the four golden Buddha statues brought to the country from India by Arhant Maliyadeva was kept in the Vattarama temple (Abeywardana, 2004). The other three statues are said to be kept at Kothmale Pusulpitiya Viharaya, Madanwala Viharaya, and Diddeniya Viharaya (Abeywardana, 2004). 

Vattarama Purvarama Stupa
Purvarama Stupa
According to the ancient text Vattarama Asna, there were 12 monasteries in the Vattarama temple. The ruined Stupa which was excavated and conserved in 2012 by the Department of Archaeology is located in the east to the Vattarama temple has been identified as Vattarama Purvaramaya, one of the 12 monasteries in the Vattarama temple. This Stupa has been also indicated as Purwaramaya in the report on Kegalle District compiled in 1892 by H.C.P. Bell, the then Commissioner of Archaeology. However, the Stupa had been vandalized by treasure hunters long before its formal conservation.

The investigations revealed that this Stupa is a work belonging to the Anuradhapura period. According to the chronicles and other resources, this Stupa has been built by King Gotabhaya. A foundation of some building that had been built prior to the construction of this Stupa was identified during the excavation. This foundation has been built beneath the foundation of the Stupa and extends towards South-East from the Stupa. Also, some sculptures of clay-swans and pieces of clay-pots were unearthed during the excavations.

Sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi-tree
The Mahabodhivamsa mentions Vattarama as one of the 32 places where the saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi-tree in Anuradhapura was planted (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Kuda Viharaya
The old image house known as Kuda Viharaya has been constructed during the Kandyan period (Abeyawardana, 2002; Karunatilake, 2014). It is a small rectangular image house with a Mandapa in front. The Mandapa is 26 ft. 3 inches in length and 11 ft. 9 inches in width and said to be a later addition (Karunatilake, 2014). Inside the image house is a Buddha statue seated under a Makara Thorana (the Dragon arch). Two standing Buddha statues of about 5 ft. tall are also found on the left and right walls of the image house (Karunatilake, 2014).

Inscriptions
Four pillar inscriptions have been found from the temple premises (Karunatilake, 2014). Two of them are presently placed in/near the Kandyan era image house known as Kuda Viharaya (Karunatilake, 2014).

Vattarama Vihara pillar inscriptionVattarama Vihara pillar inscription
This pillar is found erected near the entrance of Kuda Viharaya.

Period: Abha Salamevan
Period: 10th century A.D.
Script: Medieval Sinhala
Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: On the full moon day of Medin (February-March) in the seventh regnal year of King Abha Salamevan, three persons named Suvara Amal, Kasi and Vadur donated twenty Kalandas of gold to the Sirisangabo Raja Maha Vehera of "Dagdar" for the provision of meals to the resident monks. If any monk offering food to others which are prepared with the gold given for the benefit of the monks of the temple, he should be expelled.
Reference: The information at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

Monuments
Vattarama ruins
Antiquity of Vattarama temple is evident by the large number of archaeological ruins scattered throughout the Vihara premises. Stone pillars, statues, Kandyan era image house (Kuda Viharaya), inscriptions, Siri Pathula Gal (Buddha's footprints), carved door frames/slabs, and other stone works are found among them (Karunatilake, 2014). A collection of Ola manuscript is preserved in the two-storeyed octagonal building known as Pattirippuwa (Abeyawardana, 2002).

However, the temple has been modernized without caring for its antiquity, and as a result of that many ruins have been destroyed and displaced from their original locations.

Stamp
The temple was featured in a stamp issued by the Sri Lanka Post on 9 May 2017, to commemorate the State Vesak Festival of the Buddhist Era 2561.

A protected site
The ancient Stupa, and the image house with old sculptures and paintings in Vattarama Raja Maha Vihara situated in Wattarama village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Galigamuwa are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

The new image house Vattarama ruins Maliya-maha-paya
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References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.69.
2) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-093-0. p.226.
3) Karunatilake, M., 2014. Urumayen gilihena Wattarama Kuda Viharaye Mahanuwara Sampradaye Sithuwam (In Sinhala). Kauthukagara: 17th Issue. National Museum Department & Ministry of National Heritage. ISSN: 1800-2897. pp.40-57.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Gedige Image House, Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura Gedige
This is a vaulted (Gedige) image house located in the citadel of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

History
This building is identified as an image house of Buddhist tradition but presently, no evidence of the image of the Buddha is available. Also, the founder of this building is not known. However, with the help of the masons' mark found from the "Building A" (see the "Building" section below) this edifice has been dated to the 8 century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1936).

Conservation
The building was first noticed in 1886 by Burrows and was cleared by H.C.P. Bell in 1897 (Paranavitana, 1936).

Building
This is a rectangular building with an upper storey (Paranavitana, 1936). The walls and the roof of this image house have been completely built out of bricks and therefore, known as a Gedige (Pali: Ginjakavasatha) type image house. The original brick vaulted roof of the image house, however, no longer exists. It is evident from the remains that the vaulted roof of the image house was resting on 4-7 foot thick brick walls. Door and window frames used for the building have been built with granite.

Architectural analyses have revealed that this structure has elements related to the Pallava architecture. 

A similar building - "Building A"
Another building with a similar plan was found adjacent to the Gedige building and has been named "Building A" (Bandaranayake, 1974; Paranavitana, 1936). In the inner room (the sanctum) of this "Building A" is an Asana (a platform) faced with molded slabs of stones and one of them had a masons' mark read as "uturudese"= north side (Paranavitana, 1936). With the help of this masons' mark, this building has been dated to the 8th century (Paranavitana, 1936). 

The "Building A" is much preserved than the Gedige building (Paranavitana, 1936). The plan, the construction level, and other components of these two buildings are apparently similar and therefore, scholars such as Paranavitana are in the opinion that these two structures are works belong to the same date (Paranavitana, 1936).

Attribution
1) Sri Lanka Trip -26 by Weldon Kennedy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese monastic architecture: the Viharas of Anuradhapura (Vol. 4). Brill. p.205. 
2) Paranavitana, S., 1936. The excavation in the Citadel of Anuradhapura. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. Vol. III. Ceylon Government Press. Colombo. pp.1-2,5-7.

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Polonnaruwa Vatadage

Polonnaruwa Vatadage
Vatadage (Circular Relic-House) is a ruined circular-shaped building located in the Puja Chathurasraya (the sacred quadrangle) in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
As chronicles mention that King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) built a round relic house this building may have been originally used as the Temple of the Tooth. However, according to Gal Potha and Hetadage portico slab inscriptions, King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) built the Vata-geya (the rotunda: probably the Vatadage) and several other buildings including the Dalada-geya (the Tooth-relic house) and Nissanka Latha Mandapaya (Wikramagamage, 2004; Wickremasinghe, 1928). This suggests that at least some renovation or reconstruction work has been done on this building during the reign of Nissankamalla.

Inscriptions
 A few inscriptions are found inscribed on the stone slabs used to construct the Vatadage building.

Polonnaru Vatadage
The Grantha-Tamil inscription showed in the left photograph is found on a slab paved to the ground near the southern stairs of the first platform (Bell, 1907). The right end of each line of the inscription is incomplete as the slab may have been broken or separated from its other stones which contained the missing portion (Bell, 1907). The record contains a portion of the same historical introduction found in one of the inscriptions of Siva Devale no. 2 (Bell, 1907).

Another Grantha-Tamil inscription has been found on a slab utilized as a member of the base to the north wing at the east staircase (Bell, 1907).

Vatadage
Polonnaruwa VatadageThe Vatadage is the main eye-catching edifice in the sacred quadrangle and is considered as one of the architectural marvels in Polonnaruwa. It has been built as a double-tiered (two platforms) circular structure. The lower platform is 4ft. 3 inches tall and has a diameter of 120 ft. (Prematileke, 1990). The upper platform is 81 ft in diameter and 5ft. 3 inches high (Prematileke, 1990). The only entrance stairway to the lower platform is found on its north cardinal point as a projection. This entrance is decorated with delicately carved Sandakada Pahana (the moonstone) and Muragalas (the guard stones).

Polonnaruwa Vatadage
The upper platform can be accessed through four flights of steps at the four cardinal points. As other Vatadages in Sri Lanka, the Polonnaruwa Vatadage also encloses a Stupa at its center. The Stupa is surrounded by four seated Buddha statues placed at the four cardinal points (Wikramagamage, 2004). A circular brick wall surrounds the Stupa making a wide ambulatory within (Prematileke, 1990). Murals depicting the life incidents of the Buddha may have painted on the inner side of this wall (Prematileke, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004).

The building may have had a wooden roof supported on five concentric rows of stone pillars and the roof probably had been paved with tiles (Jayasuriya, 2016). The present form of the building is said to be come as a result of the renovations or reconstruction works done in the reign of King Nissankamalla or in the Dambadeniya period (13th century).

The Sandakada Pahana at the base of the main entrance is considered to be the best moonstone in Polonnaruwa (Jayasuriya, 2016). Also, the Muragalas at the eastern entrance to the upper platform are considered as the best examples of their kind in the Polonnaruwa period (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Polonnaruwa Vatadage Polonnaruwa Vatadage Polonnaruwa Vatadage
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References
1) Bell, H.C.P., 1907. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: North-Central, Northern and Central Provinces. Annual Report - 1907. p.38.
2) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.77.
3) Prematilleke, L., 1990. The architecture of the Polonnaruwa Period B.C. 800 - 1200 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.48.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.209.
5) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.84-90,98-123.

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A short note for local school students
පොළොන්නරුව වටදාගෙය

පොළොන්නරුව පුරාණ නගරයෙහි පූජා චතුරස්‍රය පරිශ්‍රයෙහි වටදාගෙය පිහිටා තිබේ..

ඉතිහාසය
වංශකතා ප්‍රකාරව මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1153-1186) විසින් පොළොන්නරුවෙහි ශෙෙලමය වටකුරු දා ගෙයක් ඉදිකරන ලද බැව් සඳහන් වන බැවින් මෙම වටදාගෙය ගොඩනැගිල්ල ඇතැම් විට ප්‍රථමයෙන් දළදා මන්දිරය වශයෙන් භාවිතා වන්නට ඇත. කෙසේනමුදු ගල්පොත හා හැටදාගේ ද්වාර මණ්ඩප පුවරු ලිපිය යන සෙල්ලිපි වල දැක්වෙන ආකාරයට නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1187-1196) විසින් වට-ගෙය ඇතුළු තවත් ගොඩනැගිලි (දළදා-ගෙය, නිශ්ශංකලතා මණ්ඩපය වැනි) ඉදිකර තිබීම තුලින් පෙනෙන්නේ එම රජුගේ සමයේදී අවම වශයෙන් මෙහි නවකම් කිරීමක් හෝ ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය කිරීමක් සිදුකරන්නට ඇති බවයි.

ගොඩනැගිල්ල
පූජා චතුරස්‍රයෙහි ඉදිකොට ඇති වටදාගෙය ගොඩනැගිල්ල පොළොන්නරුවේ දක්නට ලැබෙන විශිෂ්ඨතම නිර්මාණයක් සේ සැළකිය හැකිය. වටකුරු ද්විත්ව මාළක ගොඩනැගිල්ලක් ලෙස ඉදිකර ඇති මෙහි පහළ මාළයෙහි උස අඩි 4යි අඟල් 3ක් පමණ වන අතර විශ්කම්භය අඩි 120ක් පමණ වේ. ඉහළ මාළයෙහි උස අඩි 5යි අඟල් 3ක් වන අතර විශ්කම්භය අඩි 81කි. පහළ මාලයට ගොඩවිය හැකි එකම පියගැටපෙළ ප්‍රවිශ්ඨය ගොඩනැගිල්ලෙහි උතුරු දෙසින් ප්‍රක්ෂේපිත වන අතර එය විසිතුරු කැටයමින් යුතු සඳකඩ පහණ හා මුරගලින් සමන්විත වෙයි.

සිව්දිශානුගතව ඉදිකර ඇති පියගැටපෙළ ප්‍රවිශ්ඨයන් හතරක් ඔස්සේ ඉහළ මාලයට ගොඩවිය හැක. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවෙහි අනෙකුත් වටදාගෙවල් වල දක්නට ලැබෙන අයුරින්ම පොළොන්නරුව වටදාගෙයද මධ්‍ය ස්තූපයක් මැදිවන සේ ඉදිකර ඇත. ස්තූපය වටකොට සිව්දිශාවෙන් බුද්ධ ප්‍රතිමා හතරක් තැම්පත් කොට තිබේ. ගඩොලින් ඉදිකල වටකුරු බිත්තියක් ස්තූපය වටා දිවෙන අතර එමගින් පුළුල් ඇතුළු ප්‍රදක්ෂිණා පථයක් නිර්මාණය වෙයි. බිත්තියෙහි ඇතුළු පෘෂ්ඨය මත බුද්ධ චරිතයෙහි සිදුවීම් දැක්වෙන සිතුවම් ඇඳ තිබෙන්න ඇත. ගොඩනැගිල්ලෙහි වර්තමාන ස්වරූපය නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ සමයේ හෝ දඹදෙණිය යුගයේ සිදුකල නවීකරණ හෝ ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ වල ප්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස පැමිණ ඇතැයි විශ්වාස කෙරේ.

වටදාගෙය ගොඩනැගිල්ලෙහි ප්‍රධාන ප්‍රවිශ්ඨය පාමුල දැකගත හැකි සඳකඩ පහණ පොළොන්නරුවෙහි විශිෂ්ඨතම සඳකඩ පහණ ලෙස සැළකෙයි. එසේම, ඉහළ මාළයට පිවිසෙන නැගෙනහිර ප්‍රවිශ්ඨය දෙපස ඇති මුරගල් යුගල පොළොන්නරුවට අයත් මුරගල් අතුරින් විශිෂ්ඨතම නිර්මාණය වෙයි.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Polonnaruwa slab inscription at the North Entrance to the Citadel

This slab inscription by King Nissankamalla was discovered completely buried at the North-gate of the Polonnaruwa citadel, Sri Lanka (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The inscription has been engraved on both sides of a quadrangle slab of 6 ft tall and 2 ft 8 inches wide (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The first side contains 37 lines of writings and in the second side 36 lines are found (Wickremasinghe, 1928). A similar slab with a copy of this inscription has been discovered at the East-gate of the citadel (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

Reign : Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Period: 12th century A.D.
Script : Medieval Sinhala
Language : Sanskrit & Medieval Sinhala
Transcript: Laksmim varddhayitum vyathas samayitun tratum svavamsa-sthitim......>>
Content    : This inscription includes descriptions of the Nissankamalla's virtuous qualities and his charitable acts. It further records that the members of Kalinga royal dynasty who protected its subjects with good governance were the most suitable to be kings and persons from Govi caste and non-Buddhist princes from Cola or from Kerala are not suitable for the throne of Sri Lanka. Persons from the Kaling royalty should be the kings of the country and the people who show allegiance to those who have no right to royalty will be treated as traitors and be extirpated together with their families and their worldly possessions. 

References
1) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.157-.164.

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