Sunday, January 10, 2021

Bhatika Statue, Ruwanweliseya

Bhatika Statue
A standing rock-cut statue which is believed to be that of King Bhatika [alias Bhatikabhaya (20 B.C.-9 A.D.)] or Bhatiya Tissa [translated into Pali as Bhatika Tissa (141-165 A.D.)] is found in the compound of Ruwanweliseya Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. According to the opinion of scholars, this statue can be classed as one of the oldest and most significant creations in the history of sculpture in the country (Vanarathana, 1990).

This statue was discovered among the other ruins of Ruwanweliseya. It had been broken into three parts at the time of its discovery (Vanarathana, 1990).

Legends
According to Mahavamsa, Bhatika (20 B.C.-9 A.D.) was an extremely pious king (Mahavamsa; ch.XXXIV:37-67). One day, due to the pressure of work, he couldn't arrive at the usual time to worship the Ruwanweliseya Stupa (Vanarathana, 1990). When he came there later, he heard a sound of Pirith-chanting coming from inside the dome of the Stupa (Vanarathana, 1990). Believing it as a chanting by Arahants, he lay down on the Stupa terrace and determined not to rise until he was able to see it (Vanarathana, 1990). Arahants who realized the intention of the king brought him inside the dome and showed him the treasures deposited therein (Vanarathana, 1990).

Folklore says that this statue has been constructed to commemorate this miraculous event (Vanarathana, 1990).

Opinions
The costume and jewelry worn by the statue indicate that this is a representation of a royal person. The upper body is naked but ornamented with necklaces and bangles. The hands are in the posture of the Anjali-Mudra (Vanarathana, 1990).

According to some scholars, the form of this statue is very much similar to the Yaksha figure at Parkham (India) belonging to the B.C. period (Vanarathana, 1990). According to Senarath Paranavitana, there is a short legend written in a very ancient Brahmi script, which read as "Tisa Maha Raja" at the foot of this statue (Vanarathana, 1990). However, some read it as "Maha Rajaha ma(luthisa)" and believe that it is the statue of King Mali Tisa [translated into Pali as Kanittha Tissa (165-193 A.D.)], not Bhatiya Tissa [(141-165 A.D) Hettiarachchi, 1990].
 
References
1) Hettiarachchi, A.S., 1990. Investigation of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century inscriptions. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions p.61.
2) Vanarathana, K., 1990. Sculpture and carvings of Sri Lanka from the 1st to 5th century A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture.p.34.

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This page was last updated on 24 May 2021
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