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, January 31, 2021

Divurumwela Raja Maha Viharaya

Divurumwela Raja Maha Viharaya
Divurumwela Raja Maha Viharaya (some called Divurumpola Temple) is a Buddhist temple situated in Nugatalawa village in Badulla District, Sri Lanka.

History
The construction of the Divurumwela temple is attributed to King Aggabodhi IV in the 7th century A.D. (Gunasekara, 2004).

The small Stupa, the Bodhi-tree, and the image house can be identified as the ancient monuments within the temple premises (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). However, the old paintings in the image house have been covered in 1983 by drawing new paintings over them (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). A few stone pillars are found at the entrance to the shrine (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). A fragmentary slab inscription of the reign of King Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.) has been found from the old Bodhi-tree premises of the temple (Ranawella, 2004).

Period: Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.)     Script: Medieval Sinhala     Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This record is dated in the first regnal year of the king. It registers certain immunities granted in respect of some land belonging to a Vihara by the supreme council on a decree issued by his Highness lord Kasub, who was the governor of Ruhuna at that time. As the record is fragmentary, it is unable to ascertain fully what were the immunities granted.
Reference: Ranawella, 2004.

A place related to Ramayanaya?
Without any archaeological or historical evidence, this Buddhist temple is being promoted by some locals and tourist agencies as a Hindu place related to Rama and Sita, two mythical figures depicted in the Indian epic Ramayanaya. According to them, Divurumwela/Divurumpola is the place where Sita had undergone Agni-pariskha for proving her chastity. To encourage this view, this place has been modified recently by the temple authorities by creating new Hindu figures and paintings.

The authenticity of the Ramayanaya is controversial and hence it is today dismissed as a myth by Sri Lankan scholars (JRASSL, 2014).

A protected site
The ancient Stupa, and the Bodhi pedestal belonging to the Divurumwela Purana Vihara situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Welimada, in Welimada Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by two government gazette notifications published on 22 November 2002 and 6 June 2008.  

Attribution
1) Divurumpola by Amila Tennakoon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) Gunasekara, S., 2004. Pattipola Bu Äla - An exceptional design of ancient Sinhala hydraulic engineering. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 50, pp.33-42.
2) JRASSL, 2014. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka New Series, Vol. 59, No. 2, Special Issue on the Ramayana (2014). https://www.jstor.org/stable/i40203619. pp.1-112.
3) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.34-35.
4) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-30-5. pp.230-235.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.530.

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Res Vehera (Sesseruwa)

Res Vehera
Sesseruwa Viharaya (popularly known as Res Vehera) is a Buddhist temple situated in Sesseruwa village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
Although the ancient name of this temple is not known, the history of this site expands from the pre-Christian era to the Kandyan Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963). A large number of cave inscriptions written in early-Brahmi scripts have been found from the site. Of them, Prof. Senarath Paranavitana has published 29 inscriptions in his book issued in 1970 (Paranavitana, 1970).

Script: Early Brahmi                                                         Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Devenepiya-maharajhaha Gamani-Abayaha jhita Abi-Anuridiya parumaka-Raki-jhaya lene
Translation: The cave of Princess (Abi) Anuradhi, daughter of the great king Gamani Abhaya, the friend of the gods, and wife of the Chief Raki.
Notes: According to the view of Nicholas, this inscription has been done by the daughter of a king who, in all probability, is King Vattagamani Abhaya [(89-77 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963].
References: Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970.

Besides the early-Brahmi cave inscriptions, a few inscriptions of the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. and Vaharala inscriptions have been found from the temple premises (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 2001).

The Sesseruwa Buddha statue
The monastery extends in an area of about 1200 acres (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The ruins of ancient buildings and other structures have been identified at the site. The Dharma Salawa (the preaching hall) and the image houses display artistic features of the Kandyan Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Among the numerous monuments found in the temple premises, the most popular one is the colossal image of the Buddha in stone depicting the Abhaya Mudra. It is 39 feet 3 inches high and has been carved out inside a rock-cut cavity (Nicholas, 1963). The height of the head of it (7 feet 4 inches) is the same as the length of the foot (Vanarathana, 1990). The right-arm is 12 feet 2 inches long and the palm is 4 feet 8 inches (Vanarathana, 1990). This statue is 5 inches taller than the famous Buddha statue of Avukana in Anuradhapura (Vanarathana, 1990).

This statue, according to the view of some scholars, is a creation by King Mahasena [(274-301 A.D.) Vanarathana, 1990]. The "Mahasena Patima" that is mentioned in Culavamsa is said to be the statue of Resvehera (Vanarathana, 1990).

A protected site
The colossal Buddha image and inscriptions located in Sesseruwa Resvehera Vihara premises in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Pothanagama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 16 December 1949.

Attribution

References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.50-51.
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.98.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.78-79,98.
4) Paranavitana, S. 2001. Dias, M. (Ed). Inscription of Ceylon: Volume II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department. pp.294-295.
5) Vanarathana, K. (Mahanayaka Thera), 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section I: Sculpture and carvings of Sri Lanka from the 1st to 5th century A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. pp.28-29.
6) The government gazette notification. no: 10054. 16 December 1949.

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Kurunegala Tara, Colombo National Museum

Kurunegala Tara statue
A statue of the goddess Tara was discovered from Kurunegala in Sri Lanka and presently, it is on the display at the National Museum of Colombo (Dohanian, 1983).

Goddess Tara
Tara is considered the most beloved goddess of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon (Jayawardene, 2016). She started to appear in the society of Sri Lanka around the seventh or eighth century A.D. and was worshiped until the fifteenth century A.D. (Jayawardene, 2016). Evidence for Tara worship in Sri Lanka is found in the Mihintale Slab Inscriptions of Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.) where she is referred to as goddess Mininal (Gunawardana, 2019; Jayawardene, 2016). The largest figure of Tara in the country is found in Buduruwagala (Gunawardana, 2019).

The statue
This statue of Tara was discovered from Talampitiya in Kurunegala District (Gunawardana, 2019). It is a solid-cast, silver alloyed statue of 16.5 cm tall (Dohanian, 1983; Gunawardana, 2019).

The goddess is depicted here in the seated posture of Virasana and in the appearance of Samadhi [(meditation) Gunawardana, 2019]. The hair is gathered in an elaborate Jatamakuta and the empty niche in front of it once had a miniature figure of the Buddha (Dohanian, 1983; Gunawardana, 2019). The niche is surrounded by flame forms and below it are two heads of Makaras (dragons) with the mouths directed to the two sides (Dohanian, 1983). The eyes are shown half-closed but the facial expression is quite severe (Gunawardana, 2019). The upper body is naked and has no ornaments (Dohanian, 1983). The lower body is covered up to the anklets with a flimsy cloth. 
 
This statue has been dated by scholars to the 8-10th century A.D. (Dohanian, 1983; Wikramagamage, 1990).

References
1) Dohanian, D.K., 1983. Sinhalese Sculptures in the Pallava Style. Archives of Asian Art, 36, pp.6-21.
2) Gunawardana, N., 2019. Identify the statues of Goddess Tārā in Sri Lanka and Evaluate the Importance with Trade. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 9(9), pp.404-410.
3) Jayawardene, S., 2016. Sri Lanka's Tārā Devī. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 61(2), pp.1-30.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section II: 500-100 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. p.72.

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Hambantota gallows

Hambantota gallows
Hambantota gallows is a gallows tree located in the south-eastern tip of Hambantota tower hill area in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

History
The gallows was by the British during their colonial rule in Sri Lanka. It is made of an oak pillar which gradually thins towards the top (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
Leonard Woolf (1880-1969), the Government Agent of Hambantota is said to have watched hangings from the Government Agent's residence which is located north-west of the gallows (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A protected monument
The ancient gallows at the premises adjoining the land in front of the premises of the Department of Meteorology Squire at towerhill road in Hambantota town west No. 09 village situated in Grama Niladhari Division, Hambantota in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Hambantota is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 24 March 2016.

Attribution

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.100-101. 
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1960. 24 March 2016. p.227.

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Godavaya Gothapabbata Viharaya

Godavaya Gothapabbata Viharaya
Godavaya Gothapabbata Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated on a rocky cliff by the side of the Ambalantota sea near the mouth of Walawe Ganga river in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka. The temple is historically and archaeologically important as the only record and evidence regarding the ancient Godavaya Port at Ambalantota is found here (Abeyawardana, 2004).

History
The establishment of Gothapabbata Vihara is attributed to Gotabhaya, the ruler of Rohana early in the 2nd century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1963). The inscription of Gamini Abaya of the 1st-2nd century A.D. (see the below "Inscriptions" section) which is in the temple premises reveals the name of the area as Godapavata (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983). In a later 6th century inscription, this temple is named Godava-vahera (Nicholas, 1963).
 
Ancient Godavaya Port
The inscription of Gamini Abaya confirms the fact that there was an ancient port in Godawaya. The Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka) jointly with a team of German archaeologists excavated the Godavaya temple and the surrounding area in the 1990s (Abeyawardana, 2004; Dimucci, 2015; Gaur et al, 2011). During the excavations, they found out a number of Roman and other foreign coins and artifacts which lead them to identify this site as an important trade center or emporium in ancient times (Abeyawardana, 2004; Dimucci, 2015). 
 
Godavaya Shipwreck
The shipwreck of Godawaya was discovered in 2003 by two fishermen and they brought it to the attention of German archaeologists who were excavating the nearby 2nd century A.D. Godavaya port and the Gothapabbata Buddhist monastery (Dimucci, 2015; Muthucumarana et al., 2014)  In 2010 an excavation by an international team of maritime archaeologists brought to light the remains of a shipwreck (Muthucumarana et al., 2014). The analysis of artifacts and radiocarbon dating of wood fragments from the site revealed that the wreck belongs to a time period between the 2nd B.C. - 2nd centuries A.D. (Gaur et al., 2011; Muthucumarana et al., 2014). This is probably the oldest known shipwreck in the Indian Ocean.

Inscriptions
The inscription of Gamini Abaya
This inscription is found inscribed on the face of the main rock boulder at the site. A fragment of a record belonging to about the 6th century has also been found on the same boulder (Paranavitana, 1983). 
 
The inscription consists of two lines and written in the scripts of the 1st or 2nd century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004; Paranavitana, 1983). It records that King Gamini Abhaya [probably King Gajabahu I (112-134 A.D.) or one of his predecessors such as Amanda Gamini Abhaya (22-31 A.D.)] donated the customs duties of Godapavata Port to the Vihara at the site (Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983). This is the only concrete evidence that confirms the ancient port in the Godavaya area (Abeyawardana, 2004). 

Script: Later Brahmi            Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (1) Siddham [|*] Godapavata-patanahi su[ka] su[ri]yi (2) raja Gamani Abaya viharata dini
Translation: Success! The customs duties of the port of Godapavata, King Gamani Abhaya granted to the Vihara.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1983. p.101.

The temple
The ruins of ancient buildings and structures (such as pillars, pillar foundations, and brick monuments) found in the temple premises indicate the antiquity of Gotapabbata Viharaya. The ancient Stupa at the highest point of the rock has been renovated around 1920 (Abeyawardana, 2004). The preaching hall and the monks' residence have been added to the temple in the 1930s (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Godavaya Gothapabbata Viharaya .
Attribution

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.115.
2) Dimucci, A.M., 2015. An Ancient Iron Cargo in the Indian Ocean: The Godavaya Shipwreck (Doctoral dissertation submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies of Texas A&M University). pp.3-5,7-8.
3) Gaur, A.S., Muthucumaran, R., Chandraratne, W.M., Orillandeda, B.C., Manders, M., Karunarathna, S., Weerasinghe, P., Dayananda, A.M.A., Zainab, T., Sudaryadi, A. and Ghani, K.A.B.A., 2011. Preliminary assessment of an early historic (2000-year-old) shipwreck at Godawaya, Sri Lanka. Journal of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, The, 35, pp.9-17.
4) Muthucumarana, R., Gaur, A.S., Chandraratne, W.M., Manders, M., Rao, B.R., Bhushan, R., Khedekar, V.D. and Dayananda, A.M.A., 2014. An early historic assemblage offshore of Godawaya, Sri Lanka: evidence for early regional seafaring in South Asia. Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 9(1), pp.41-58.
5) 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.67.
6) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Godavaya Rock Inscription. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.101-102.

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Yahangala Viharaya, Hambantota

Yahangala Viharaya, Hambantota
Yahangala Viharaya is a Buddhist temple in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the Yahangala West Grama Niladari Division of the Hambantota Divisional Secretariat.

History
As the presence of two early-Brahmi inscriptions of the 2nd century B.C., the history of this temple is dated by scholars to the pre-Christian era (Abeyawardana, 2004). These inscriptions refer to donations made to the temple (Abeyawardana, 2004).

The temple
The ruined temple is said to have been discovered during colonization schemes of the 20th century (Abeyawardana, 2004). It has been built at the top of a rock where the ruins of two ancient Stupas and the stone columns of a few buildings are found. Rock-cut flight of steps, pools, brick debris are also found at the site.

Yahangala Viharaya, Hambantota
.
Attribution

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.115-116.

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Jetavanarama Monastery, Anuradhapura

Jetavanarama Stupa
Jethavanaramaya [(also known as Denanaka or Dena Vihara) Nicholas, 1963] is an ancient Buddhist monastery situated in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

History
The temple founded by Mahasena
The Jetavana monastery is a creation of King Mahasena (276-303 A.D.), the first Sinhala king who embraced Mahayana Buddhism (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). According to chronicles, Mahasena who was against to Maha Vihara fraternity destroyed its some of the building and used the materials to build new structures at Abhayagiri Viharaya (Jayasuriya, 201). Ignoring the protests of Maha Vihara monks, the king established the Jetavanaramaya within the precincts of the Maha Vihara and offered it to Tissa Thera of Dakkhina Vihara, a monk who had won the admiration of the king (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). Thereafter, the Jetavanarama served as the headquarters of the Sagaliya sect until the 12th century (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Nandana Pleasure Grove
Jetavanaramaya is said to have been established within the park named Nandana (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Arahant Mahinda (3rd century B.C.), the messenger of Buddhism to Sri Lanka had stayed for seven days at this site to preach the Dharma of the Buddha (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). In recognition of this event, the park was renamed Jotivana which means 'the place where the holy one had made the true doctrine shine forth' (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). It is said that this land was started to know an Isibhumangana (courtyard of the sage) because of Arahant Mahinda and his associate monks were cremated at this site after their deaths (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Archaeological evidence that supports this belief has been found from the site (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004).

Jetavana entourage
Jetavana Monastery
Jetavana entourage is extending in about 80 hectares (Jayasuriya, 2016). All essential features of a Buddhist monastic institution such as the Stupa, Bodhi-tree shrine, Pilimage (image house), Uposathagara (chapter house), Sannipatasala (assembly hall), living quarters, refectories, ponds, etc. are found here. Kings such as Mittasena (428 A.D.), Dhatusena (455-473 A.D.), Mahanaga (569-571 A.D.), Aggabodhi I (571-604 A.D.), Aggabodhi II (604-614 A.D.), Moggallana III (614-619 A.D.), Aggabodhi IV (667-683 A.D.), Aggabodhi VI (733-772 A.D.), Dappula II (815-831 A.D.), Sena I (833-853 A.D.), Sena II (853-887 A.D.), Udaya IV (946-954 A.D.), Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.), Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) made repairs and additions to the development of the temple (Nicholas, 196).
 
Jetavana Stupa
The Stupa is the main and most impressive feature of the whole monastery complex. It is the largest and tallest brick monument in the world (Jayasuriya, 2016; Ranaweera, 2004). Its original height was a little over 120 m and in the 4th century A.D., it was the third tallest monument in the world after two pyramids at Gizeh in Egypt (Jayasuriya, 2016; Ranaweera, 2004). The Stupa including the sand-strewn terrace covers an area of about 3 hectares (Jayasuriya, 2016). Presently, it rises up to a height of 73 m (up to the broken spire). 
 
After constructed by King Mahasena (276-303 A.D.), the Stupa was renovated and repaired by several kings during various time periods. King Mittasena (428 A.D.) made a gateway to the Stupa and King Dhatusena (455-473 A.D.) restored and gilded the umbrella of it (Nicholas, 1963). King Mahanaga (569-571 A.D.), Aggabodhi I (571-604 A.D.), Moggallana III (614-619 A.D.) made further improvements to the Stupa (Nicholas, 1963). King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) last restored the Stupa to a height of 210 feet in the 12th century A.D. (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963).

Thereafter, the Stupa didn't receive the patronage of anyone until the 19th century. During the second half of the 19th century, the British Administration of Ceylon and then the Department of Archaeology partly excavated and conserved the Stupa which had been swallowed by thick vegetation. In 1981, the Central Cultural Fund began archaeological research and conservation work at the site (Ranaweera & Abeyruwan, 2006).
 
Frontispieces (Vahalkada)
Jetavana Viharaya
Four frontispieces are there at the base of the Jetavana Stupa facing cardinal points. The steles of them have been freely decorated with floral designs and figure sculptures (Jayasuriya, 2016). Remnants of paintings still visible in some places of them (Wikramagamage, 2004). The frontispieces of Ruwanweliseya, Mirisawetiya, and Jetavana Stupas are said to be basically similar to each other (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Other monuments belong to the Jetavana Vihara complex
Other monuments within the Jetavana monastery premises include the Uposathagara (the chapter house), Danasala (the refectory), Pancavasa (monks' living units), Patimaghara (the image house), Thimbiri Pokuna, Yaturu Pokuna, and the building of Buddhist Railing.

Artifacts
A large number of artifacts were unearthed during the Jetavana Vihara Project that was carried out at the monastic site by the Cultural Triangle. Some of them are presently on the display at Jetavanarama Museum and Colombo National Museum.

Relief sculpture of Mahamaya
Jetavana Viharaya
A limestone slab depicting three women was found near the building known as Buddhist railing (Jayasuriya, 2016). It had been used to pave the floor of a building but it is not a paving stone and believed to have been brought from another site, probably from the Stupa (Jayasuriya, 2016). Scholars concluded that this sculpture belongs to the Amaravati School of Andra, India (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). According to the view of Wikramagamage, this may have been imported from Andra or had been done locally by artists from Andra (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The slab depicts Queen Maha Maya (the mother of the Buddha) who is being conducted to the precincts of a Sala tree for her confinement (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004).

Jetavanarama Fragmentary Slab Inscription of King Mahasena
This inscription was discovered from the premises of the Jetavana monastery in 1893, by the then Archaeological Commissioner H. C. P. Bell (Paranavitana, 2001; Ranawella, 2005). It has been erected to regulate the monastic life of monks connected with five great residences of the Mahavihara fraternity in Anuradhapura 
These golden plates were discovered from Jetavanarama monastery during an archaeological excavation done under the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project (Wikramagamage, 2004). The epigraph on the plates contains a portion but an exact copy of the Mahayana Buddhist text Pancavimsati-sahasrika – Prajnaparamitasutra, one of the earliest texts written in about the 2nd century A.D.

The micro gold carving
A very small gold piece containing 14 lotus flowers has been found from the Jetavana premises and presently on the display at the Jetavanarama museum (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is said that this type of micro carving has not been found in any other country in Asia (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
Jetavanarama Museum
Jetavanarama museum was opened to the public in 1992 (Rambukwella, 2014). A large number of artifacts discovered from the Jetavanarama premises are displayed in the museum.

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.36-46 
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). pp.146-147. 
3) Paranavitana, S. 2001. Dias, M. (Ed). Inscription of Ceylon: Volume II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department. pp.189-192.
4) Rambukwella, M.W.C.N.K., 2014. Heritage representation in culturally diverse societies: a case study of the Colombo National Museum in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, School of Museum Studies). p.419-420. 
5) Ranaweera, M.P., 2004. Ancient Stupas in Sri Lanka-Largest brick structures in the World. CHS Newsletter No. 70, December 2004, London, Construction History Society.
6) Ranaweera, M. and Abeyruwan, H., 2006. Materials used in the construction, conservation, and restoration of ancient stupas in Sri Lanka. In Proceedings of the second International Congress on Construction History. pp.2573-2586.
7) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.3-5
8) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.126-139.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Mala Tara, Colombo National Museum

Mala Tara statue
The statue of Mala Tara is a 10th-century silver alloyed sculpture of the goddess Tara discovered from Mannar in Sri Lanka. Presently, it is on the display at the National Museum of Colombo.

Goddess Tara
Tara is considered the most beloved goddess of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon (Jayawardene, 2016). She started to appear in the society of Sri Lanka around the seventh or eighth century A.D. and was worshiped until the fifteenth century A.D. (Jayawardene, 2016). Evidence for Tara worship in Sri Lanka is found in the Mihintale Slab Inscriptions of Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.) where she is referred to as goddess Mininal (Gunawardana, 2019; Jayawardene, 2016). The largest figure of Tara in the country is found in Buduruwagala (Gunawardana, 2019).

The statue
This statue of Tara was discovered near the lighthouse at Mannar in 1957 (Gunawardana, 2019). It is a solid-cast, silver alloyed statue of 5.4 cm tall (Gunawardana, 2019).

The goddess is depicted here in the seated posture of Virasana (Gunawardana, 2019). It has a high headdress containing a miniature figure of the Buddha. The upper body is naked and the lower body is covered with a flimsy cloth. The head together with the upper body is slanted towards the left, but the face looking up at the opposite direction (Gunawardana, 2019). An object similar to the shape of a snake is held by both hands. The earrings have the appearance of the form of a Makara (dragon) head.

According to Gunawardana, this statue represents Puja Tara (the goddess of offerings) who plays a minor role as the attendants of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in a mystic circle, described as Vajradhatumandala (Gunawardana, 2019).

References
1) Gunawardana, N., 2019. Identify the statues of Goddess Tārā in Sri Lanka and Evaluate the Importance with Trade. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 9(9), pp.404-410.
2) Jayawardene, S., 2016. Sri Lanka's Tārā Devī. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 61(2), pp.1-30.

Location Map

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Gopala Pabbata

Gopala Pabbata is a small group of rocks located within the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. The cave called Madalaya's Lena is also found at this site (Wikramagamage, 2004).

History
The earliest antiquities so far discovered at Polonnaruwa are two inscriptions (one in a cave and the other on the rock near the cave) from this site (Paranavitana, 2001). They confirm that this site was an abode of the monks in ancient times (Nicholas, 1963). According to Culavamsa, Gopala Pabbata was the southern boundary of the great monks' university, the Alahana Pirivena (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Inscriptions
Gopala Pabbata cave inscription
Period : 1st-2nd century A.D.            Script : Later Brahmi            Language : Old Sinhala
Transcript    : Sida [|*] Madalayaha lene
Translation  : Hail! The cave of Madalaya
Citation : Paranavitana, 1970. p.93.
 
Gopala Pabbata rock inscription
This inscription is not preserved in full and there are two fragments of two lines (Paranavitana, 2001). This inscription confirms that the religious settlement centering on the Gopala Pabbata of the 12th century was known in the 1st century as Chulagalla Viharaya (Paranavitana, 2001).

Period : 1st-2nd century A.D.            Script : Later Brahmi            Language : Old Sinhala
Content    : This records a donation made to a temple named Chulagala Viharaya by Chula Ahalaya, the son of Ayatiya Buta.
Reference : Paranavitana, 2001; The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.81. 
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.178. 
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.93.
4) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.223-224.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.219.

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This page was last updated on 10 April 2021
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Lankatilaka Viharaya, Kandy

Lankatilaka Viharaya
Lankatilaka Viharayais a Buddhist temple built on the Panhalgala rock in the village of Hiyarapitiya in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Lankatilaka Viharaya is related to the Gampola Period.  Rock inscriptions found in the temple premises reveal that Senalankadhikara, a minister of King Bhuvanekabahu IV (c.1341-1351 A.D.) built Lankatilaka Viharaya in the Saka year 1266 which is 1344 A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva, 1990; Jayasuriya, 2016).

Thereafter, the temple received the patronage of several kings. King Parakramabahu VI (1412-1467 A.D.) carried out some stucco work in the temple in the 15th century A.D. (Jayasuriya, 2016). During the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782 A.D.), the inner walls were decorated with murals (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Architecture
Lankatilaka image house
The architect of the image house of Lankatilaka Viharaya is said to be a South Indian (Jayasuriya, 2016). Therefore, as in the case of Gadaladeniya Viharaya, it evidently displays a South Indian architectural layout. Shrines with similar layouts are commonly found in Tamil Nadu in India and Candi Singhasari in Java (Jayasuriya, 2016). According to the view of Abeyawardana, this image house depicts a combination of Indo-China architectural patterns mixed with the Polonnaruwa architectural features influenced by temples in Myanmar and Japan (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Originally Lankatilaka image house was a four-storied building and it has gone through several renovations over the course of years (De Silva, 1990; Jayasuriya, 2016; Rajapakse, 2016). Presently, only the ground floor and a part of the second floor remain (Jayasuriya, 2016; Rajapakse, 2016). The height of the present building is 18.3 m (De Silva, 1990).

Lankatilaka image house
Lankatilaka image house is an example of a Buddhist shrine associated with Hindu elements (Jayasuriya, 2016). The Buddha shrine has been built towards the eastern direction and the Hindu shrine towards the west (Jayasuriya, 2016). Figures of deities such as Upulvan, Sumana, Vibishana, Ganapati, Kumara Bandara, and their consorts have been placed on the exterior in niches in the center of each of the outer walls and on the two sides of the front facade (De Silva, 1990; Jayasuriya, 2016). 

The image house has been built out of stones and bricks along the east-west axis (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva, 1990).  It consists of Hewisi Mandapaya (the drumming hall), Antaralaya, and Garbha-gruha (Rajapakse, 2016). The main statue of the shrine is a seated Buddha statue under a Makara Torana [(dragon arch) Abeyawardana, 2004]. Murals and few sculptures are also found in the shrine room. The Stupa of the temple is a construction of the recent past (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Inscriptions
Rock inscriptions
Lankatilaka inscriptions
Two Sinhala and one Tamil inscription are found engraved on the rock to the south of the temple (Paranavitana, 1960). Of the two Sinhala inscriptions, the first one belongs to the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV and the other belongs to his successor, King Vikramabahu III [(1357-1374 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1960]. The Tamil inscription is the translation of the Sinhala inscription of  Bhuvanekabahu IV (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
Another rock inscription belonging to the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu V (1372-1408 A.D.) is found on the rock outside the Vahalkada to the west of the temple (Paranavitana, 1960).
 
Copper-plates
Four copper-plates are preserved in the Lankatilaka temple (Paranavitana, 1960). Of them, one records grants of lands made to the shrine in the reigns of King Rajadhirajasinghe (1782-1798 A.D.) and his predecessor King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe [(1747-1782 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1960].
 
A protected site
The old Vahalkada, Buddhist shrine, Devale, and the inscriptions of Lankatilaka Vihara situated in the village of Hiyarapitiya in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Udunuwara are archaeological protected monuments, declared by government gazette notifications published on 16 December 1949, and 23 February 1967. 

Lankatilaka Viharaya .
Attribution
1) Lankathilaka Viharaya 03 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.76-77.
2) De Silva, N., 1990. Sri Lankan architecture during the period 1200-1500 A.D.. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.82-84.
3) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.121-123.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1960. Lankatilaka inscriptions. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XVIII, Nos. 1 & 2. pp.1-45.
5) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.60-61.
6) The Gazette notification of Ceylon. No: 10054. 16 December 1949. 
7) The Gazette notification of Ceylon. No: 14775. 23 February 1967.

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Logan Sapphire

Logan Sapphire
Logan Sapphire is a world-famous faceted blue sapphire originating from Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan sapphires are typically light to medium blue in color.  The Logan Sapphire is blue in color with very slight violet overtones (Feather, 2016). A Gemological Institute of America (GIA) report dated June 1997 revealed that the color of this stone is natural and it had not been treated with heat (Feather, 2016). 

Presently, the stone is housed in the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of Natural History alongside the Bismarck Sapphire Necklace and the Hall Sapphire and Diamond Necklace. It is the heaviest mounted gem in their collection (Feather, 2016). The stone which weighing 422.98 carats (84.6 g) is set in a silver and gold brooch surrounded by round brilliant-cut 20 diamonds totaling 16 carats (Clark, 1998; Feather, 2016).
 
The stone belonged to Sir Ellice Victor Sassoon (1881-1961), the third Baronet of Bombay (Feather, 2016). He is supposed to have acquired it from a Maharaja in India (Feather, 2016). It was later purchased by Col. Meyer Robert Guggenheim (1885-1959) who gave it to his wife Rebecca Pollard Guggenheim as a Christmas/anniversary gift in late 1952 or early 1953 (Feather, 2016). Rebecca gifted it to the Smithsonian in December 1960 but retained possession of the piece until April 1971 (Feather, 2016). By that time Rebecca was married to Joan A. Logan, hence the stone got the name Logan (Feather, 2016).


References
1) Clark, C., 1998. Tropical Gemstones. Tuttle Publishing. p.14.
2) Feather, R.C., 2016. The Royal-Blue Logan Sapphire at the Smithsonian Institution. Rocks & Minerals, 91(1), pp.59-60.

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Beli-lena

Belilena
Beli-lena is a large (ca. 30x15 m) prehistoric cave situated in Kitulgala in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. It is considered as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the country, with evidence of human presence dating back to over 31,000 years B.P. (Kourampas et al., 2009). However, evidence that confirms the presence of humans as early as ca. 45,000 cal. BP. has been found in recent studies (Wedage et al., 2020).

A few Buddhist structures of the 20th century are also found in the shade of the cave (Kourampas et al., 2009). 

The location
Beli-lena cave is situated in the island’s lowland Wet Zone with a mean annual precipitation between 2500 and 3500 mm (Kourampas et al., 2009; Wedage et al., 2020). 

Excavations & findings
Belilena
The cave was first investigated in 1960-1961 by P.E.P. Deraniyagala and the excavations done by him revealed historic and prehistoric archaeological materials (Wedage et al., 2020). Systematic excavations were commenced at the site in 1978 by the Department of Archaeology under the supervision of S.U. Deraniyagala and they were continued in 1979, 1983, 1985, and in 1986 the site was investigated under the guide of W. H. Wijeyapala (Kourampas et al., 2009; Wedage et al., 2020). These excavations sampled about 3 m of cultural deposits, spanning the time from over 31,000 to 7880 yr cal B.P., as inferred from 25 radiocarbon dates (Kourampas et al., 2009). The excavation led by Oshan Wedage in 2013 revealed a total of 25 radiocarbon dates, indicating a chronology extending back to ca. 31,000 cal years BP (Wedage et al., 2020).  

An enormous quantity of food remains, both faunal and floral and fragmentary remains of human individuals interpreted as fractional burials have been recorded throughout the studies carried out at this site. Microlithic tools dating from ca. 24,700 cal B.P., have made this site one of the oldest reliably dated sites with microlithic industry in South Asia. 

A protected site
The pre-historic cave site of Belilena situated in Kitulgala village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Yatiyantota is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002. 

Beli-lena Beli-lena Beli-lena Beli-lena
.
References
1) Kourampas, N., Simpson, I.A., Perera, N., Deraniyagala, S.U. and Wijeyapala, W.H., 2009. Rockshelter sedimentation in a dynamic tropical landscape: Late Pleistocene–Early Holocene archaeological deposits in Kitulgala Beli‐lena, southwestern Sri Lanka. Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, 24(6), pp.677-714.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
3) Wedage, O., Roberts, P., Faulkner, P., Crowther, A., Douka, K., Picin, A., Blinkhorn, J., Deraniyagala, S., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M. and Amano, N., 2020. Late Pleistocene to early-Holocene rainforest foraging in Sri Lanka: Multidisciplinary analysis at Kitulgala Beli-lena. Quaternary Science Reviews, 231, pp.1-19.

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Nanu Oya Arch Bridge, Kiribathkumbura

Nanu Oya Arch Bridge
Nanu-Oya Arch Bridge is located near the Kiribathkumbura Highway Museum premises in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It was constructed in 1824 or 1826 across the Nanu Oya stream by engineer Captain Brown during the period of Governor Sir Edward Barnes [(1824-1831 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Rajapakse, 2016].
 
The bridge has 3 arches built out of stone and bricks (Rajapakse, 2016). It was replaced later by a new bridge constructed in close proximity. The Highway Museum by the Department of Highways has been established near the bridge.
 
Attribution
1) Old arch bridge by shankar s. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.92-93.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. p.77.

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Ulpange, Kandy

Ulpange
The Ulpange (also known as Queens Bathing Pavilion) is located on the edge of Kandy Lake, to the south of the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka. 

History
The Ulpange is thought to have been constructed in 1806 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinha (1798-1815 A.D.), the last king of Sri Lanka (Abeyawardana, 2004; Prematilleke, 1986). It was the bathing pool/bathhouse of the queens originally built with stone (Jayasuriya,, 2016). However, after the British capture the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, the pool was filled and cemented by them to accommodate various official and commercial quarters (Prematilleke, 1986; Rajapakse, 2016). By adding another story, the British converted the building in 1828 into a library named "United Service Library" (Abeyawardana, 2004; Jayasuriya,, 2016; Rajapakse, 2016). Although the original building was altered, the British managed to retain the traditional Kandyan appearance on it (Jayasuriya,, 2016). 

Excavations
Ulpange
The cemented and tiled floor of the Ulpange was excavated in the 1980s by the Cultural Triangle under the direction of Leelananda Prematilake (Jayasuriya,, 2016; Prematilleke, 1986). During the excavation, they were able to expose an oblong octagonal pool constructed with molded stone slabs with a large central ledge running around the pool (Prematilleke, 1986). A line of pillars that supported the roof originally, but subsequently covered with British period walls, was also observed by them (Prematilleke, 1986).

According to the view of some scholars, this bathhouse was probably built enveloping an original spring (Ulpata) and therefore has been named Ulpange (Jayasuriya,, 2016).

Ulpange.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.18.
2) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.115. 
3) Prematilleke, L., 1986. Recent Archaeological Research on a Sri Lankan City Complex (Kandy). A paper was presented to the South-Asian Archaeological Congress, University of Wisconsin, Madison. pp.133-151. 
4) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.14-15.

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This page was last updated on 3 February 2021
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