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.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Nicholson’s Cove Arabic Inscription, Trincomalee

Nicholson’s cove Arabic Inscription
Trincomalee Nicholson’s Cove Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka

A tombstone
This slab which has been identified as a tombstone was discovered in February 1939, by some workers who were working near two wells in the Nicholson's Cove area (Devendra, 1968). Nearly 3 decades after Somasiri Devendra, the Instructor Lieut. Commander (Royal Ceylon Navy) brought it to the attention of scholars through an article published in 1968 (Devendra, 1968).

The inscription has been engraved on a white marble slab from the Rajasthan, originally rectangular (at least in its lower part) in shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The slab is 19 inches long, 16 inches wide and 2.25 inches thick and the characters on it are in sunken relief (Dasanayaka, 2017; Devendra, 1968). Six lines of writing with the remains of a seventh can be observed on the slab and these lines are flanked by two vertical columns which are also inscribed (Dasanayaka, 2017; Devendra, 1968; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
This relates to the grave of the noble, the pious and the chaste lady, daughter of the Amir Badru-d-din Hussain, son of Ali al-Halabi (Dasanayaka, 2017). She was taken away on Monday the 17th Dhul-Qa’da 729 (or 929) A.H. (Dasanayaka, 2017). According to Kalus & Guillot, this inscription can be dated to 729 A.H. (1329 A.D.) or 929 A.H. [(1523 A.D.) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].

References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.347-349.
2) Devendra, S., 1968. Arabic Gravestone from Trincomalee Dockyard. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society: New Series: Vol XIV. pp.28-35.
3) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.53-59.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 19 April 2021
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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic Inscription

Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic Inscription
Anuradhapura-Puttalam road Arabic inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka.

This slab with an inscription is said to have discovered from a place on the wayside of Anuradhapura-Puttalam road (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The inscription has been inscribed on the vertical side of a rectangular slab. It is written in Kufic script with leafy or flowery ends (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The inscription has been dated to the 9th century A.D. (Dasanayaka, 2017).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.352-353.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.18-22.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Ellupitty Arabic Inscription

Ellupitty Arabic Inscription
Ellupitty Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka.

This has been identified as a tombstone (Dasanayaka, 2017). The slab on which the inscription has been inscribed is fragmentary and believed to be rectangular in shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The remaining portion contains 5 lines of writing but the first and the last lines are considerably damaged. It is written in Kufic script with leafy or flowery ends (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
Content
Elupitiya tombstone with the Arabic inscription
Transcript: (1) Khalafa minad dunya wa tarakaha (2) ......ata faqiran ilaika wa anta ...... (3) nasals bika wa anta .....
Translation: Left the world and abandoned it......came to you depending on you are the ......Descended upon you, you are the......
Citation: Dasanayaka, 2017. p.349.
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.349.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.22-24.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription

Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription
Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This Rajasthan marble slab which has been identified as a tombstone was unearthed during World War II (1939-1945 A.D.) by workmen who were excavating a site for laying water pipes near Ostenberg Point No. I and Chappel Hill in Nicholson's house overlooking Trincomalee harbour (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). After keeping it in the Kachcheri premises for a few days, the slab was later brought to the museum in May 1963 (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).

The slab is rectangular in shape while its upper part has a multifoil arch shape. Its total height is 0.94 m (height of the arch 0.32 m) and the width is 0.49 m [(except the arch) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing has been engraved on the edge of the arch, inside the arch, both sides of the lamp, in the horizontal strip separating the arch from the lower part, in the rectangular field consisting of seven lines, and on the strip that runs around the border. The slab is ornamented with leaf and flower designs. The calligraphy of the inscription is typically Hispano-Arab [(Arabesque) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
The inscription is written in early Naskhi or Rayhani which was in use in early Eastern Islam between the 5th and 7th Century after Hijra (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It records the death of the martyr, Qadi 'Atifu' d-Din 'Abdu'llah son of Abdu'r Rahman son of Muhammad son of Yusuf al-'Alaw (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Besides the main writing, it also contains some verses (27/80, 27/31) from Quran (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). This inscription has been dated in A.H. 808 Safar 19 [(16 August 1405) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.207-208,350-351.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.47-52.

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Puliyantivu Arabic Inscription

Puliyanativu Arabic Inscription
Puliyantivu Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This fragmentary stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone was discovered in Puliyantivu island in Mannar District (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It was brought to the museum in about 1920 (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
Only the upper part of a stone slab that was originally rectangular in shape is remaining today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The Arabic inscription on it consists of 6 lines (Only five lines are visible on the slab in Colombo National Museum. The remaining line is not visible due to its basement) and its upper part is decorated with a semi-circular arch (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Some letters are also found on the upper part of both left and right corners.
 
The inscription has been written in Kufic scripts which flourished in the early centuries of Islam [(7th century A.D.) Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. Depending on the style of writing, this is assumed to be a work belonging to the 4th century Hijra [(9th century A.D.) Dasanayaka, 2017].

Content
Puliyantivu tombstone with the Arabic inscription
Period: 9th century A.D.                    Language: Arabic                    Script: Kufic
Transcript: (1) Alhamdu lillah (2) Bismillah hir Rahman ar-Rahim (3) La ila illallahu.....>>
Translation: (1) All praise be to Allah (2) In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful (3) There is no god but Allah.....>>
Citation: Dasanayaka, 2017. p.345.
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.344-345.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.27-29.

Location Map
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Mantai Arabic Inscription

Mantai Arabic Inscription
Mantai Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone is said to have been discovered from a site in Mantai in Mannar District (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). However, as mentioned in some sources, it was discovered from a place in Jawatta in Colombo District (Dasanayaka, 2017).
 
The slab is rectangular in shape and its lower part apparently has been cut with some instrument (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The height of the slab is 0.97 m and the width of it slightly differs at the top (0.51 m) and the bottom [(0.47 m) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing has been engraved within a rectangular frame with an arch-shaped top. Ten lines of writing are visible on the slab and the first three lines are engraved within the arch.
 
The inscription records the death of Yazid, son of Al-Marzuban, son of Mahwaih (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It does not mention a date but that may have included in the lower part of the record which is mission today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Depending on the characters of the record, it has been dated to the 11th century A.D. (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.148.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.40-43.

Location Map
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Jawatta Arabic Inscription

Jawatta Arabic Inscription
Jawatta Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. This is considered the first Arabic epigraph found in the country (Dasanayaka, 2017).

A tombstone
This stone slab which has been identified as a tombstone is said to have been discovered from a cemetery in Jawatta in Colombo District (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Around 1787, the slab was moved along with other stones to be used as a walk in the house of a Dutch official [(Collector of Colombo) Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. There are no clear reports about the original inscription and only a facsimile by Sir Alexander Johnston is remaining today (Johnston, 1826; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The slab is believed to be rectangular in shape and its dimensions are not known (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The writing has been engraved within a rectangular frame with an arch-shaped top. Fifteen lines of writing are visible on the slab and the first two lines are engraved inside the arch.
 
The stone is dated on 5th Rajab AH 337 (some sources say it 317) and has been erected in memory of Khalid Ibn Abu Bakaya (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). He is said to have been sent to Sri Lanka from Baghdad (Iraq) by Caliph Al-Muktafi bi'llah as a religious teacher in 940 A.D. at the request of the Muslims (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). He died 17 years after he left Baghdad and buried in Colombo (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). On his death, the Caliph sent a stone inscribed in Arabic (Kufic) giving particulars about his teacher and it was placed on the grave of Abu Bakaya by the Muslim community in Colombo (Dasanayaka, 2017; Dewaraja, 1994). The stone is said to be there undisturbed for nearly 800 years, till a Dutch official removed it along with other stones to be used as a walk-in his house (Dasanayaka, 2017; Dewaraja, 1994).

Content
After knowing about this inscribed stone, Sir Alexander Johnston, the Chief Justice of Ceylon (1806-1819 A.D.) took a facsimile of it and sent to England for translation (Dasanayaka, 2017; Johnston, 1826). It was translated by Sir Samuel Lee Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge and his translation into English was as follows;
In the name of the compassionate and merciful GOD. There is no God but God. Mohammed is the prophet of God. May the blessing and peace of God be upon him. O God pardon, have mercy upon, and pass away from (the sins of) a servant, the son of thy servant, Khalid Ibn Abu Bakdya (Takaya or Nakaya), (who) has left the world, and (who) was dependent on thee; but thou wast sufficient without him : (who) has departed to thee, and thou art his best place of departure. O God pardon his sin, that his piety may remain, and grant him his last (reward), and that he may be justified. And protect thou, and multiply favour and security to him. And may he (God) appoint our excellent prophet supreme, that he may afford to us and shew us the truth clearly ; for he has admonished with the established word, and his decision has obtained, and his resistance is (as) the (depth) lake of reproach. Amen. Lord of Worlds. It was written on the second day (of the week) five nights taken out of (the month) Rejeb (i. e. on the 5th of Rejeb) in the year 337.* And in the vicinity he completed a security for religion with (other) conveniences, in the year 317. May God give blessing and peace upon his prophet Mohammed
Citation: Lee, 1827. p.546.
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. p.145-148.
2) Dewaraja, L.S., 1994. The Muslims of Sri Lanka: one thousand years of ethnic harmony, 900-1915. Lanka Islamic Foundation.pp.27-28.
3) Johnston, A., 1826. A letter to the Secretary relating to the preceding inscription. Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1(2), pp.537-548.
4) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.29-40.
5) Lee, S., 1827. A Cufic Inscription found in Ceylon, communicated by Sir A. JOHNSTON, V.P.R.A.S.; with a Translation by the Rev. SAMUEL LEE, A.M., Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1(2), pp.545-548.


This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka

Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka
A small number of Arabic inscriptions have been found in Sri Lanka from maritime regions as well as from hinterland. The majority of them are tombstones while some others are votive in character. The percentage of the number of Arabic inscriptions in Sri Lanka is considerably very low when it compares to the amount of Sinhala inscriptions (majority language) recorded so far in the country.

The records date between the 9th -15th century period. The script used generally was Kufic, but other scripts such as Naskh and Farisi (Persian) have also been reported.

The list of Arabic inscriptions
This is an incomplete list prepared by "Lanka Pradeepa".
 
No. Inscription Remarks References
1 Puliyantivu inscription
(Mannar District)
A tombstone
9th century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
2 Anuradhapura-Puttalam road inscription
(unknown place)
??
9th century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
3 Fragmentary Arabic inscription, Colombo National Museum
(unknown place)
??
after the 9th century A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
4 Jawatta cemetery inscription
(Colombo District)
A tombstone
949 A.D.
Ali, 2014
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
5 Mantai inscription
(Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar District)
A tombstone
11th century A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
6 Bhagavalena inscription
(Ratnapura District)
A religious text
13 century A.D.
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Dewaraja, 1994
7 Nicholson Cove inscription, Trincomalee
(Trincomalee District)
A tombstone
1329 A.D. or 1523 A.D.
Devendra, 1968;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
8 Trincomalee dockyard inscription
(Trincomalee District)
A tombstone
1405 A.D.
Kalus & Guillot, 2006;
Dasanayaka, 2007
9 Kuragala inscription
(Ratnapura District)
??
10-16th century A.D.
Somadeva, 2014;
10 Galle Trilingual slab inscription
(Galle District)
A votive text
15 February 1409
Dewaraja, 2006;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
11 Ellupitty inscription
(Mannar District)
A tombstone
??
Dasanayaka, 2007;
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
12 Talapitiya mosque inscription
(Galle District)
??
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
13 Hemmatagama inscriptions
(Madulbowa in Kegalle District)
Three tombstones
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006
14 Mannar inscription
(Mannar District)
??
??
Kalus & Guillot, 2006

References
1) Ali, A., 2014. Muslims in harmony and conflict in plural Sri Lanka: A historical summary from a religio-economic and political perspective. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 34(3), pp.227-242.
2) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.344-358.
3) Devendra, S., 1968. Arabic Gravestone from Trincomalee Dockyard. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society: New Series: Vol XIV. pp.28-35.
4) Dewaraja, L.S., 1994. The Muslims of Sri Lanka: one thousand years of ethnic harmony, 900-1915. Lanka Islamic Foundation.p.33. 
5) Dewaraja, L., 2006. Cheng Ho's Visits to Sri Lanka and the Galle Trilingual Inscription in the National Museum in Colombo. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 52, pp.59-74.
6) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.15-68.
7) Somadeva, R., 2014. කූරගල ගවේශනය 2014: අදියර 1. (In Sinhala) pp.31-32.

This page was last updated on 19 April 2021
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Fragmentary Arabic Inscription, Colombo National Museum

Fragmentary Arabic Inscription, Colombo Museum
This is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.
 
The place of discovery is not known for this inscription (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Although it is presently preserved on an irregular-shaped stone slab, this inscription probably had been engraved on a slab with a rectangular shape (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The circular carving in the middle of the slab indicates that it has been reused for another purpose (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
The slab is 0.65 m tall and its width varies from bottom to top [(bottom: 0.44 m; top: 0.38 m; max-width: 0.58 m) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing had been margined by an engraved frame which is still visible at some places of the slab. The first part of the record is missing and only seven lines are remaining today (Kalus & Guillot, 2006).

This inscription is written in the same Eastern Kufic as that in Puliyantivu Inscription but is probably of a somewhat later date (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). The inscription is worn and the stone may have been used as a grinding stone or for such purpose (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.351-352.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.24-26.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Garumuni Walawwa

Garumuni Walawwa is an old manor house situated in Balapitiya in Galle District, Sri Lanka. It is considered a representative sample for the important colonial period buildings in the Southern region of the country (CCF, 2015).

History
The construction of Walawwas as the abodes for the elite of the southern region rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century and the Garumuni Walawwa was one such manor house built by the de Soysa family in the 19th century (CCF, 2015). It is said that this building had housed the meeting of the Donoughmore Commission in 1928 (CCF, 2015).

References
1) CCF, 2015. Conservation of Garumuni Walawwa. CCF Newsletter Vol. 1. Central Cultural Fund. p.8.

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Chulangani Viharaya

Chulangani Viharaya
Chulangani Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated near Yudaganawa Stupa in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka.

The site
This monastic site consists of a Stupa, Bodhighara, image house, and other buildings belonging to the 12th century A.D. However, some weathered Buddha statues in the image house have been dated by scholars to the 6th-7th century A.D.

Attribution

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Galagoda Shailathalarama Viharaya

Shailathalarama Viharaya
Galagoda Shailathalarama Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Karandeniya village in Galle District, Sri Lanka. The temple is popular among devotees due to its large reclining Buddha statue which is considered one of the longest statues in the country.

History
The temple is said to have been established in 1901 with the guidance of Siri Abhayatissa Nayaka Thera. After his death, the temple was maintained under the guidance of the incumbent monks of Thapodhanarama Mula Maha Viharaya until Karandeniye Siri Saddhammawamsa Gunaransi Nayaka Thera was appointed as the incumbent in about 1933. The construction works of the image house including the largest reclining Buddha statue (88 riyan long) were commenced during this period by a devotee named T.H. Iyonis Upasaka.  

Attribution
1) DSC_0012 by Dhammika Heenpella is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Interpretation of Queen Maya's Dream, Colombo National Museum

Interpretation of Queen Maya's Dream
The marble slab depicting the Interpretation of Queen Maya's Dream is presently on the display in the Gallery of Anuradhapura Period in Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka.

Discovery
This slab was discovered in 1894 along with another slab depicting "Queen Maya's Dream" during the irrigation works in a paddy field about a mile from Anuradhapura (Bopearachchi, 2012). It is said that these were found in a Bodhighara shrine popularly known as "Kurunegala-road-shrine" (Bopearachchi, 2012). The stone pediment and the inner basement of this shrine have now been reconstructed at the premises of Colombo National Museum (Bopearachchi, 2012).

The slab
This slab measures 64cm x 38cm x 9cm. It is believed to have been imported from Nagarjunakonda (Andra Pradesh in South India) as they have their iconographic and stylistic counterparts in many of Amaravati sculptures found there (Bopearachchi, 2012). The slab on which this sculpture has been carved is called Amaravati marble, a kind of hard limestone found in the Nagarjunakonda region (Bopearachchi, 2012).

The scene in the slab portrays the interpretation of Queen Maya's dream by the sages/soothsayers (Bute, 2016). It is said that King Suddhodana consulted soothsayers in order to get Queen Maya's dream interpreted and one of them explained that the child born to the queen would definitely attain the Buddhahood. Here, in the remaining part, it shows the king questioning the soothsayer who is seated on a low stool making his own interpretation of the dream.

Scholars have dated this work to the 2nd-3rd century A.D. (Bute, 2016).

References
1) Bopearachchi, O., 2012. “Andhra-Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka” Early Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka. New Dimensions of Tamil Epigraphy, pp.49-68.
2) Bute, S.J.R. ed., 2016. Intercultural Relations and Ethnic Conflict in Asia. IGI Global. p.62.

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Queen Maya's Dream, Colombo National Museum

Queen Maya's Dream
The marble slab depicting Queen Maya's Dream is presently on the display in the Gallery of Anuradhapura Period in Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka.

Discovery
This slab was discovered in 1894 along with another slab depicting "The Interpretation of Queen Maya's Dream" during the irrigation works in a paddy field about a mile from Anuradhapura (Bopearachchi, 2012). It is said that these were found in a Bodhighara shrine popularly known as "Kurunegala-road-shrine" (Bopearachchi, 2012). The stone pediment and the inner basement of this shrine have now been reconstructed at the premises of Colombo National Museum (Bopearachchi, 2012).

The slab
This slab measures 57cm x 52cm x 9.5cm. It is believed to have been imported from Nagarjunakonda (Andra Pradesh in South India) as they have their iconographic and stylistic counterparts in many of Amaravati sculptures found there (Bopearachchi, 2012). The slab on which this sculpture has been carved is called Amaravati marble, a kind of hard limestone found in the Nagarjunakonda region (Bopearachchi, 2012). It probably would have decorated one of the Stupas in Andra.

The scene in the slab portrays Queen Maya's dream. Here Maya who is surrounded by female attendants is lying on her right side. The part depicting the elephant (it is said that Siddhartha entered his mother's womb in the form of a white elephant) is broken off. The human figures with full breasts, attenuated hips and long limbs of the females dressed only in a short cloth band are considered characteristic features of the Amaravati school.

Scholars have dated this work to the 2nd-3rd century A.D. Similar carvings relating to the same subject have been reported from Sanchi, Bharhut, and Amaravati in India (Bute, 2016).

References
1) Bopearachchi, O., 2012. “Andhra-Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka” Early Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka. New Dimensions of Tamil Epigraphy, pp.49-68.
2) Bute, S.J.R. ed., 2016. Intercultural Relations and Ethnic Conflict in Asia. IGI Global. p.62.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Manakanda Archaeological Site and Eco-Park

Manakanda Archaeological Site
Manakanda Archaeological Site & the Eco-Park (also known as Manewakanda Forest Reserve) is situated in Ipalogama DS Division in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by travelling through the A-9 road from Kekirawa to Mihintale and taking a turn off to the site from the Maradankadawala town.

Manewa Kanda Forest Reserve
Manewakanda is an isolated hill forest consisting of about 325 ha. (UNDP, 2015). The upper parts of this hill forest represent  MMEF (Moist  Mixed  Evergreen  Forest) environment (UNDP, 2015). The area receives an average annual precipitation of about 1,000-1,500 mm (Perera, 2012). 
 
The forest falls under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. Several popular tourist attractions in the area such as Avukana, Kala Wewa, Vijithapura, Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Nachchaduwa Wewa, Ritigala, Sigiriya, and Dambulla are located vicinity of this forest.
 
Manakanda Archaeological Site
Ruined monuments of an ancient Buddhist monastery are found on the eastern slopes of the Manewakanda (Wikramagamage, 2004). They include a Janthaghara, image house, flight of steps, Bodhighara, Padhanaghara, mounds of Stupa, ponds and other monuments. Of these ruins, the buildings known as Padhanaghara are considered an important feature of this site.
 
Padhanghara
Padhanaghara, also known as Patanagala or Piyangala, is a special type of monastery built for the Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks) who devoted themselves to meditation involving minimum comforts. They are usually constructed in places situated outside the main areas of monastic and secular buildings. During the latter part of the Anuradhapura period, Padhanagharas became popular and developed into large scale complexes. Examples for this type of monasteries are found at the places such as Arankele, Ritigala, Nuvaragalkanda, Veherabendigala, and Western Monasteries etc. (Bandaranayake, 1990).

Manewakanda
.
Attribution
1) Manawakanda Eco-park 04 by WMKKalhara is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0  

References
1) Bandaranayake, S., 1990. The architecture of the Anuradhapura Period 543 B.C.-800 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.22-24.
2) Perera, G.A.D., 2012. Ecology of Sri Lankan Dry Forests: Implications for the Conservation Management of Northernmost Dry Forests. In Proceedings of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE-2012) pp. 263-269.
3) UNDP, 2015. Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Sustenance of Ecosystem services in Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Project document. United Nations Development Programme (Sri Lanka). p.104.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.39.
 
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Kurullangala

Kurullangala
Kurullangala (or Kurullanne-lena) is a site with the remains of prehistoric rock art located in the mountain range of Punagala in Karadagolla GS division of Ella in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. This rock art site is said to be the only one of its kind so far discovered in the country (Thantilage et al., 2016). Also, it is considered the place where the largest collection of rock art of Sri Lanka is found (Thantilage et al., 2016).

Discovery
Kurullangala came to the attention of the public in 2013 after a private television channel disclosed some information about the place (Thantilage et al., 2016). However, the site was known among the people around the area for a long time and some information regarding this site had already been published in a school journal in 2002 (Thantilage et al., 2016).

The remains of pre-historic drawings (rock art) are the major attraction of this site. Some archaeological evidence about the human activities of the pre-historic period has been found from the surrounding area.
 
The rock art
Distribution on the rock outcrop
The rock art has been drawn on a vertically standing flat surface of a rock outcrop located at the summit of a mountain (Thantilage et al., 2016). A wide area of the rock surface has been used to draw rock art and in some parts, they extend up to about 30 ft. above the lowest level (Thantilage et al., 2016). However, most of them are faded or destroyed with time due to the water seepage and other sources of natural deterioration and it is assumed that only a part of the originally painted area lasts today (Thantilage et al., 2016).
 
Theme
Line drawings of animals (mainly birds), handprints (only left hand), and abstract signs are found here (Thantilage et al., 2016). Basically red and yellow pigments have been used for these drawings (Thantilage et al., 2016).
 
Date
Scientific carbon dating has become impossible due to the pigments used in these drawings are inorganic (Thantilage et al., 2016). As there is no soil accumulation in front of the painted rock surface, doing an excavation to identify the soil context that corresponds to the human activities contemporary with the rock art has also become fruitless (Thantilage et al., 2016). However, other available features and physical evidence strongly suggest that these drawings could have belonged to pre-historic times (Thantilage et al., 2016).

References
1) Thantilage, A.; Dissanayaka, R.A.; Bogahawatta, C.; Vithanage, I.; Senanayaka, J.; Wijesinghe, T.K.; Ekanayaka, E.M.L.S.S., 2016. An account of the recently discovered rock art site at Kurullangala in Ella, Sri Lanka. Laboratory of Cultural Material Analysis Publication Series-4. Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya. pp.1-12.
 
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Sirimalwatta Raja Maha Viharaya

Sirimalwatta Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Sirimalwatta village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The old wayside rest Sirimalwatta Ambalama is located near this temple.

History
Sirimalwatta village
According to folklore, the history of Sirimalwatta village where the temple located is going back to the days of King Saddhatissa [(137-119 B.C.) ] Abeyawardana, 2004]. It is said that the king had grown jasmine flowers in this village and ordered to bring them to be offered to the Ruwanweliseya Stupa at Anuradhapura before they blossom (Abeyawardana, 2004). The garden where Hirimal flowers (flowers which didn't blossom) collected later became Sirimalwatta (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
The temple
According to folklore, this temple was founded during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.) and developed later by King Vimaladharmasuriya II [(1687-1707 A.D.) Rajapakse, 2016]. The name of the temple is mentioned in Nampota, an ancient Sinhalese text which is considered to have been compiled after the 14th century.
 
However, some consider this temple as one of the Viharas established under the patronage of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe [(1747-1782 A.D.) Karunaratna & Ambanwala, 2010]. The rock inscription that has been engraved on a rock located near the temple land indicate the antiquity of this temple (Karunaratna & Ambanwala, 2010).
 
The temple
The temple comprises a Stupa, image house, preaching hall, Bodhi-tree, and monk dwellings. The image house shows architectural features of both Kandyan and Dutch (Karunaratna & Ambanwala, 2010). The short walls and round pillars bear the roof of the image house. Three seated Buddha statues and twenty-one standing statues are found inside the image house (Rajapakse, 2016).

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.112.
2) Karunaratna, M., Ambanwala, C, 2010. Sirimalwatta Rajamaha Viharaya (In Sinhala). Dinithi: Vol. 1: Issue IV. ISSN 2012-7189. p.18.
3) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.105-106.
 
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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Lankapatuna Samudragiri Viharaya

Lankapatuna Samudragiri Viharaya
Lankapatuna Samudragiri Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Lankapatuna (Tamil: Ilankathurai) in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

History
Popular belief
Lankapatuna in Sinhala means the "Lanka's port". The temple is located on an elevated rock that sticks out of the shoreline and lies at the mouth of the Ullakkalli lagoon. According to popular belief, this is the historic Port of Lankapatuna where Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamala set foot in Sri Lanka bringing the Tooth Relic of the Buddha in the 4th century A.D. (Medhananda, 2003).
 
LTTE influence 
Medhananda Thera, a Buddhist monk who visited this site in 1965 reported the ruins scattered at this place and he identified an ancient Buddhist Stupa of about 8 ft. tall (Medhananda, 2003). However, during the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009), this site was captured and used as a gun post by the cadres of "Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam" (LTTE), a Tamil secessionist group designated as a terrorist organization by a number of countries including India, the United States and the European Union (Klem, 2012). Following the peace talks between the LTTE and the Government in 2002, a Hindu shrine had been established at this ruined site by 2003 (Medhananda, 2003). After liberating the area from the LTTE, the present temple was established at the site (Klem, 2012).

A protected site
The ancient Dagaba, ruined pond, oval-shaped and rectangular-shaped pickaxe marks and Pana-bemi in the Lankapatuna Samudragiri Vihara premises in the Seenathvali village in the Grama Niladhari Division of Uppural in the Divisional Secretary's Division of Seruvila are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 7 March 2008.

Attribution
1) Lankapatuna by Dilkas rusthy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Klem, B.W.N., 2012. In the wake of war. The political geography of transition in eastern Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, University of Zurich). pp.131,262.
2) Medhananda, Ven. Ellawala, 2003. Pacheena passa - Uttara passa: Negenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala bauddha urumaya (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-686-112-9. pp.319-322.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1540. 7 March 2008. p.175.

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Rajamaha Kohon Viharaya

Rajamaha Kohon Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Halngoda village in Matale District, Sri Lanka.
 
History
Kohon Viharaya is believed to be a temple donated to Arahant Tissa Thera by Maha Naga, the brother of King Devanampiyatissa [(247-207 B.C.) Abeyawardana, 2004]. It is said that Arahant Kohontissa was the incumbent of this temple when writing down the scriptures on Ola-leaf books at Matale Alu Viharaya (Abeyawardana, 2004). After completion of writing of the scriptures, a procession carrying lamps was proceeded to Alu Viharaya from this temple to commemorate that event (Abeyawardana, 2004).

King Rajadhirajasinghe (1781-1798 A.D.) is said to have bestowed some lands to this temple for its maintaining works (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
Inscriptions
A 19th-century rock inscription has been discovered on a rock located about 20 yards to the west of the temple (Dias, 1991). It was copied by the Department of Archaeology on 25 October 1971 (Dias, 1991).
 
Kohon Raja Maha Vihara rock inscription
Period: 19th century A.D.                Script: Modern Sinhala               Language: Modern Sinhala
Content:  The inscription contains details about a donation of some lands to the temple (Kohon Viharaya) by a person. While expecting the Buddhahood, the author of this inscription has shared his meritorious work firstly with Royalty and secondly with all others.
Reference: Dais, 1991.
 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.129-130.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.59,61.
 
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Kaludiya Pokuna, Dambulla

Not to be confused with Kaludiya Pokuna, Mihintale Kaludiya Pokuna, Dambulla
Kaludiya Pokuna is a site with a ruined Buddhist monastery located near Kumbukkandanwala (Dambulla) in Matale District, Sri Lanka.
 
History
This has been identified as the ancient Dakkhinagiri Vihara [(Dakinigiri Vehera) Nicholas, 1963]. According to Mahavamsa, Dakkhinagiri Vihara was built by King Saddhatissa [(137-119 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2001]. However, Culavamsa mentions that King Dhatusena (455-473 A.D.) built the monastery named Dakkhinagiri Vihara (Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2001). It is believed that Dhatusena had only affected certain repairs during his reign to the Dakkhinagiri temple which had been built by Saddhatissa (Ranawella, 2001). King Aggabodhi I (571-604 A.D.) is said to have constructed a Uposathaghara (a chapter house) at Dakkinagiridalha Vihara which is probably the same temple (Nicholas, 1963). King Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.) granted a village to this monastery (Nicholas, 1963).

The identity of this place as Dakkhinagiri Vihara was confirmed by two inscriptions discovered from the site (Nicholas, 1963). These two inscriptions belong to the reigns of King Kassapa IV (909-914 A.D.) and King Sena III (938-946 A.D.) and they record the name of this temple as Dakinigiri Vehera (Ranawella, 2001). The name Dakinigiri Vehera has been found among the graffiti of nearby Sigiriya (Nicholas, 1963).
 
Inscriptions
Three inscriptions have been discovered from this site (Paranavitana, 1933). The earliest of them which belongs to the 7th century A.D. has been engraved on a plain guard-stone of the flight of steps at the southern entrance to the courtyard of the Stupa (Paranavitana, 1933). The other two inscriptions belong to the 10th century A.D. and have been dated by scholars to the reigns of King Kassapa IV (909-914 A.D.) and King Sena III [(938-946 A.D.) Ranawella, 2001; Ranawella, 2004].
 
Kaludiyapokuna cave inscription of Kassapa IV (909-914 A.D.)
Period: 10th century A.D.                Script: Medieval Sinhala               Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content:  The inscription is dated in the 12th regnal year of the king. It registers certain donations (23 Kalandas of gold) made by eight persons for providing Laha-bat (ticket-meals) to the inmates of the Dakinigiri monastery.
Notes: Paranavitana had identified the king of this inscription as Sena II (853-887 A.D.). Ranawella corrected his reading later and identified the king as Kassapa IV.
Reference: Raranavitana, 1933; Ranawella, 2001.
 
Kaludiyapokuna slab inscription of Sena III (938-946 A.D.)
Period: 10th century A.D.                Script: Medieval Sinhala               Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content:  The inscription is dated in the 1st regnal year of the king. It contains a set of rules and regulations to be adhered by the monks of Dakinigiri-radmahavehera as well as by officials and workers who have been assigned to the temple duties. It also mentions that any person who breaks these rules and regulations will not have the fortune to see the Bodhisattva Maithri.
Reference: Ranawella, 2004.

The site
The site which has been declared as an archaeological reserve extends in an area of about 40 acres (Abeyawardana, 2004). It comprises a large number of ruins including rock caves, a Stupa, inscriptions, residential cells and other ancient remains (Abeyawardana, 2004). These ruins belong to the period 5th to 10th century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
The ancient monastery at Kaludiya Pokuna is said to have been built according to the Pancavasa tradition (Abeyawardana, 2004). The brick-built Stupa has been built on an elevated platform. It is believed that this monastery had been used by the monks of the Dhammaruci sect (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
Kaludiya Pokuna means the "Blackwater pond". The water of the pond that is found in this site has become dark colour due to natural causes of the surrounding environment. 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.180-181.
2) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.111.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Kaludiyapokuna inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon : Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.253-269.
4) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.251-254.
5) 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. pp.143-146.
 
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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Palatota Ammunition Store

Palatota Ammunition Store
Palatota Ammunition Store is an old Dutch building situated in Palatota in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

The building
This building was built by the Dutch (Dutch Ceylon: 1640-1796 A.D.) to store ammunition and to preserve it from fire (Katupotha, 2011). It is quadrangle in shape and has a vault-like roof made of brick and concrete (Katupotha, 2011). Windows have been fixed on the walls to control the air circulation inside the store.

A protected monument
The ancient ammunition store in Palathota Grama Niladhari Division bearing No. 723E in Kalutara Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by the government Gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

References
1) Katupotha, J., 2011. Cultural and Historical Monuments and Protected Resources of Archaeological Significance in the Lower Kalu Ganga Basin, Sri Lanka. Conference Paper. National Archaeological Symposium 2011. pp.197-213.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.123.

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