Page images
[ocr errors]

it is obvious that the evidence afforded by the sizes of the bricks employed in the two portions of the work must be all-important. Those in the outer shell average 8.99 inches in width, 2.90 inches in thickness, and only 14-06 inches in length; Bt. is 26.1, and the contents 366 cubic inches. Those in the inner work average 9.67 inches wide and 2.79 inches thick; Bt. is 27. The length could not be measured as all are headers.' The difference in the average widths proves that entirely different moulds were used for the outer bricks; the manner in which the outer shell is built is also much rougher than in the inner work. It is therefore certain that the outer work was not carried on without a break or stoppage in the brickmoulding, and probably also in the building work; and thus there is every probability that the outer shell was built by another king than Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi.

On making a careful examination of large numbers of bricks that had fallen out of this outer shell, I discovered on several of them a small series of letters that must have been inscribed on them before they were burnt, by the persons who made them. They are of the early angular types which date from prior to the time of the Gal-lena inscriptions,1 or say 85 B.C.; and thus we must ascribe the building of the outer shell to some period between that date and the death of DuṭṭhaGāmiņi in 137 B.C.

We are therefore reduced to five kings who reigned during this period, to one of whom the work, which would occupy several years, must be attributed. Of these, Waṭṭa-Gāmiņi was fully engaged with the construction of two other dagabas, one of them being much larger than the Ruwanwaeli. His brother Thullathana reigned only forty days. Of the other three kings, Saddha-Tissa and his sons Lajji-Tissa and KhallātaNaga, by far the most likely person to undertake the work was Saddha-Tissa, who reigned for the longest period (137-115 B.C.), and was the brother and successor of Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi. The completion of the dagaba is attributed to him by the Mahāvansa, which says: This monarch, whose name implies

1 See below, The Earliest Inscriptions, Nos. 68-72 (Fig. 153).

the sincerity of his faith, completed the pinnacle and plastering of the dome, and the enclosing parapet wall decorated with figures of elephants, of the Mahā Thūpa' (i, p. 128).

There is still a brick wall round the upper enclosure at the dāgaba, which has the fore-parts (heads and fore-legs) of elephants built in relief, four feet seven inches apart, in the outer face. The bricks used in these figures are of varying sizes, some of the lower ones being only two inches thick; these belong to some time in the ninth to twelfth centuries, and they clearly prove a complete reconstruction of the wall at about that period, perhaps by Parakrama-Bāhu I. The larger bricks are 17 inches long and about 2-85 inches thick, dimensions which are certainly pre-Christian. The difference between their length and that of the bricks in the outer shell of the dagaba proves that they were not moulded at the same time as the latter; they may belong to the time of KhallātaNāga, who is recorded to have enclosed the square round the dagaba.

In that case, the figures of elephants attributed to SaddhāTissa may perhaps be those in the uppermost platform or basal ledge, which is ornamented with the heads of elephants carved in limestone and set in the face of the top course. If so, he must have been the king who enlarged the dagaba. The similarity of the dimensions of the bricks in the inner and outer work points to the lapse of a very short interval between the building of the inner dagaba and the resumption of brickmaking for its enlargement.

On the available evidence, it may be decided as a practical certainty that Saddha-Tissa added the outer shell of the dagaba. Evidently the early annalists or later historians, in their desire to exalt the fame of their favourite hero, DutthaGāmiņi, omitted to give his brother the credit due to him for the greater part of the work done by him.

In other respects, the fact that there is no trace of plaster on the surface of the inner dagaba is another proof of the extreme accuracy of the account in the Mahāvansa, which states (i, p. 123), 'When the construction of the spire and the plastering of the cētiya alone remained to be completed, the king was afflicted

with the disease which terminated his existence.' We now see that his brother decided to enlarge the whole structure, and then, only, to add the necessary protection of the plaster. It was no slight work to undertake; if the outer shell is of the same thickness throughout, the amount of building done by him forms considerably more than one-third of the whole volume of the dagaba.

The description of the relic-chamber leaves no doubt that it was in the upper part of the dome, like that of the Thūpārāma dāgaba, and was a comparatively large room. It is described as having the walls covered with paintings, and containing in the centre a Bō-tree with a silver stem and golden leaves, above which was suspended a priceless canopy hung with pearls, while at each of the four sides of the chamber there was a small golden statue of Buddha sitting on a golden throne. On another throne, relics believed to be those of Buddha, enclosed in a golden casket, were placed by king Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi in person. Above this relic-apartment another room was formed in which the chiefs and people deposited large quantities of jewellery. (Mah., i, p. 123.)

A very much smaller dāgaba at Heṭṭipola in the Northwestern Province, broken into by treasure-seekers in 1877, has similarly two large (but undecorated) relic-chambers one over the other, the intervening floor being formed by slabs of stone that passed across from wall to wall, partly supported by two stone beams fixed under them transversely, an arrangement evidently like that of the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba. In the Heṭṭipola dagaba eight small sedent figures of Buddha, made of some kind of cement and covered with gold, were placed on thrones similarly made and covered with silver, which were set in four rectangular niches formed in the four walls of the lower compartment. In front of each throne there was a small relic-casket or karanḍuwa of clear quartz, enclosed in a golden dagaba-shaped case, with a spire and tee. Unfortunately I have no measurements of the bricks of which this structure is built, and therefore I can express no opinion regarding the age of the work. It may be an early one.

Inside the relic-chamber of a smaller dāgaba near it there is part of a pillar on which a royal grant in letters of the tenth century had been cut. This dāgaba can hardly be of earlier date than the twelfth century. As far as I remember, the chambers in the larger one were six or eight feet across.

With this example before us it is easy to believe that with the exception of the enormous dimensions attributed to it (80 cubits square, which may be safely divided by ten),-the detailed account of the room in the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba, as preserved in the Mahavansa, is a true description of the apartment and its decorations, written by a contemporary annalist who either actually saw it, or heard it described by others who had seen it.

[ocr errors]

The shape of the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba is thus explained in the Mahavansa (i, p. 112). Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi enquired of the architect in what form he proposed to build it. It is therefore clear that various shapes of dagabas were even then known. The bricklayer, filling a golden dish with water, and taking some water in the palm of his hand dashed it against the water in the dish; a great globule like a ball of crystal rose to the surface; and he said, "I will construct it in this form." The monarch, delighted, bestowed on him a suit of clothes worth a thousand, a pair of slippers, and twelve thousand kahāpanas.' It is refreshing to read of a king who gave such desirable marks of his appreciation of an architect's intelligence; he resembled in this respect some of the worthy Egyptian monarchs. At the present day even the slippers are not given to successful architects in Ceylon.

When drawings of the chief dāgabas at Anuradhapura were made in 1877 by Mr. Smither, the Government Architect, he was of opinion that the dome of this dāgaba was a hemisphere, as described by the old writer. It is 254 feet in diameter. It rests on three short cylinders, the upper one having a diameter 12 feet greater than that of the dome and being 5 feet 6 inches high; the middle one is 14 feet wider still and 4 feet 9 inches high; and the bottom one is 14 feet wider than the middle one and 5 feet 9 inches high. Thus the height of the three cylinders is 16 feet, and they form three basal ledges or nar

[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »