Page images

the minor road from Kurunāēgala to Anuradhapura. There are traces of a small building on the crest of the rock, and the remnants of a monastery on another rock termed Nelun-gala, 'Lotus-Rock,' a short distance away; while on the other side of the Frog Rock is the embankment of the Siyambalangamuwa tank, where a considerable amount of stone-work was used. The cutting of the holes may in this case also be attributed to some of the men employed at these works. The bricks used at the sluice of the tank and at the monastery at Nelun-gala, are of similar sizes, and indicate the second, third, or fourth century A.D. as the time when they were made. They average 2.56 inches thick, and 8:45 inches wide; Bt. is 21-6 and the probable contents does not exceed 332 cubic inches.

The holes (Fig. No. 56), which are in roughly parallel rows that run north and south, are 67 in number. The lines of holes are in five pairs, each line consisting of either six or seven holes, with in three cases an additional hole at the end, and in one case a hole at each end. The holes are shallow saucers in shape, about an inch and a half in diameter on the average, and a quarter of an inch deep; many of them are perfect circles in plan and beautifully hollowed out. They appear to have been intended for playing the game called in Arabic 'Mankala,' and termed Olinda Keliya, 'the Olinda game' in Ceylon.1

It is strange that a site should have been selected in which the lower holes are on a part of the rock which slopes downward considerably, close to the edge of a precipice. The place is also quite exposed to the sun, and, as I myself experienced, the surface of the rock becomes greatly heated during the daytime, when one would expect the game to be played on such a site. It would seem to be unnecessary to cut this large number of holes in such close proximity, and in lines almost parallel, if they were merely intended for a game at which two persons require only one set of two rows. There are other parts of the rock that appear to be much more suitable for playing this game, where it would be needless to crowd

1 For a full account of it, see The Ancient Games.


the holes together. The Sinhalese villagers who accompanied me to the rock, and who were well acquainted with the game, could offer no elucidation of the use for which the holes were intended; they were unable to understand why any one should desire to play the game on such a site. Yet notwithstanding these reasons for doubt, and partly because of the holes next described I assume that these cup-holes were intended for the Olinda game. I may observe that for some reason which is unexplained it is possible that there may have been something of a sacred character in this game in Ceylon; it appears to be specially connected in some way with the celebration of the festival of the New Year.

Another site was discovered by Mr. F. Lewis, at that time a member of the Forest Department in Ceylon, at Pallebaedda, in the Sabara-gamuwa Province, and I am indebted to his kindness for my information regarding it. The holes are cut in a rock immediately in front of three caves that were prepared in ancient times for the occupation of Buddhist monks. Mr. Lewis states, 'In front of the wihara cave is a rock of a 'hog's back' outline, on the ridge of which are two well-cut [square] holes evidently to receive the wood-work of a shrine. A little to the right of them is what appears to be a sort of cribbage-board, in which there are 18 holes cut in the rock, ending with a crescentshaped hole. The smaller holes are each about 1 inches in diameter, spaced 1 to 1 inches apart.' His sketch shows this to be an unmistakable Olinda board of nine circular cup-holes in each row.

The antiquity of the holes is indicated by the number of them, fourteen being invariably employed at the present day in Ceylon and Southern India. If the holes do not actually date from the period when the caves were being prepared for the monks it is probable that they belong to some time during the next few centuries.

As to the date of the work at the caves, there is definite evidence in the forms of the letters in the dedicatory inscriptions cut over them, below the kaṭāras. One inscription copied by Mr. Lewis is, Tapasa D(e)vasa lene sagasa, and in a second

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

line a word which in his hand-copy is Tūsasa. This may be in reality Gutasa, and the whole inscription then would be, 'The Cave of the Ascetic Dēva; to the Community; (and) of Gutta (Gupta).' In similar early letters, in which the rounded form of s does not occur, there is inscribed over another cave, 'The Cave of Pusadeva.'1 Both inscriptions may date from the second century B.C.

In addition to these sites, I was informed by the Vaeddas of the southern part of the Eastern Province that some small holes are to be seen on a rock called Lenama-gala, six miles from Haelawa.

While there are so few places at which these shallow cups or saucer-shaped holes occur in Ceylon, there are many peculiar and much larger and deeper holes of a different shape, which await some explanation. This at least can be said of themthat there are traces of early monastic buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of nearly the whole of them. It is probable, therefore, that they were cut by workmen who were engaged on the construction of the monasteries. I illustrate a few typical examples in Figs. 57-62 (in which all the sections of the holes are drawn to a scale of two feet to an inch), in addition to the single hole already noted at Sigarața-hēna. The north points marked on the plans are only approximately correct.

A group of three holes arranged at the corners of an isosceles triangle with a base of 3 feet 6 inches and sides of 4 feet 10 inches, is cut on a low flat rock to the south of the above-mentioned Frog-rock. They may be of the same age as the Olinda holes in the latter rock. They are all of one size, being 6 inches wide near the mouth, 6 inches deep, and 2 inches wide at the bottom, which is rounded.

Six holes have been cut in a group in a winding north and south line extending 40 feet 8 inches in length, in a rock called

1 There is nothing to connect this person with the Phussadēva of the Mahavansa, the great Archer-Chief of Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi. On the other hand, it may be noted that the name is a most uncommon one; I have not met with it elsewhere. There remains a possibility, but nothing more, that the inscription was cut by orders of this Chief, but in that case one would expect to find him termed Parumaka, ' Chief.'


Kuḍā Wāēra-gala, 'the Small Dagaba-rock,' at Wambaṭuwāgama, in the North-central Province (Fig. No. 57). Close by, to the south, there is a large rock on which are the remains of a monastery, including a small dagaba at which the bricks have a mean thickness of 2.75 inches, and a breadth of 8.8 inches, Bt. being thus 24.2 inches. The size exactly agrees with that of others found at an old ruined monastery of the immediate neighbourhood, where the length is 15.70 inches and the contents 382 cubic inches. This size indicates the latter part of the first century B.C. or the first century A.D. as the time when the bricks were burnt. As the holes in the rock are of such a character that they must have been made by skilled stone-cutters, it may be taken as certain that they were cut by the men who were engaged in preparing stone for the adjoining monastery.

The holes numbered 3 and 6 may be considered typical of the smaller kind of these holes. Of all the holes which I have examined I believe that No. 5 is the only one with an axis considerably out of the perpendicular. The dimensions in inches are as follows:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

holes have been cut (Fig. No. 58). The hole No. 7 is II inches wide at the top, I inches at the bottom, and 7 inches deep; No. 8 is 10 inches wide at the top, 2 at the bottom and 6 inches deep; No. 9 is 6 inches wide at the top, I at the bottom, and only 2 inches deep.

At a rock in the jungle, on the side of the ancient channel from Kalawaewa (tank) to Anuradhapura, which may date from the end of the third century A.D., there are two groups of holes, which may have been cut by men who were employed on the channel works. No ruins are known near them, it is

« PreviousContinue »