Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Four Buddha Statues (Ruwanweliseya)

Ruwanweliseya Buddha Statues
Four standing Buddha statues made of stone are found housed on the verandah of the modern shrine constructed on the compound of the Ruwanweliseya Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. They were discovered in 1873 or 1894 during the excavations of an image house located southeast of the Ruwanweliseya Stupa (Bopearachchi, 2012; Vanarathana, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004). According to popular opinion, these statues represent the four previous Buddhas of this eon (Wikramagamage, 2004). 

The statues are made of limestone. The broken parts of them that were found among the ruins have been collected and restored to their present form (Vanarathana, 1990). The right hands of the statues are in the Abhaya Mudra while the left hands are in the ring hand attitude (Wikramagamage, 2004). The hair is depicted schematically and the robe is draped on one shoulder and rests above the ankles (Wijesekera, 1962). The three ribbed folds and the gathered piece are shown in Amaravati style while the body resembles the Katra type of image (Wijesekera, 1962). The Usnisha on the head is clearly visible on each statue. According to the view of Wikramagamage, this feature belongs to the Abhayagiri school and not to the Mahavihara School of Art (Wikramagamage, 2004). He believes that these images were originally found in a location belonging to the Abhayagiri Viharaya and had been brought to the present site later (Wikramagamage, 2004). Per the opinion of Bopearachchi, these statues are fine examples of the continuity of the style of the Andra schools in Sri Lanka (Bopearachchi, 2012). Ven. Vanarathana Thera believes that these statues belong to the 4-5th centuries A.D (Vanarathana, 1990).

Besides the four Buddha statues, there is a stone image of Bodhisattva Maitreya. Another statue of this type is said to have been taken to England and placed in the stores of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Wikramagamage, 2004).

See also

1) Bopearachchi, O., 2012. “Andhra-Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka” Early Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka. New Dimensions of Tamil Epigraphy, pp.49-68.
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. pp.30-31.
3) Wijesekera, N., 1962. Early Sinhalese Sculpture. M.D. Gunasena & Co. Ltd. Colombo. p.244.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.65-66.


This page was last updated on 11 November 2022


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