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pagoda [dāgaba] is entirely covered with brick and mortar; its basis is about one quarter of a mile in circumference, and the top and side are planted [overgrown] with large trees.'
THE IDIKATU DAGABA
King Kālakaṇṇi-Tissa (40-20 B.C.) constructed 'a beautiful stone Thupa' in front of a hall which he built 'near the Mihintale monastery.' The structure now called the Idikatu ('Needles') dāgaba, at the base of the Mihintale hill, is believed to be this dagaba, although the upper work is of brick. The
historians do not mention its original name, and I believe never afterwards refer to it. In a fine inscription cut on two upright slabs at the side of the great flight of steps 1 which lead up the Mihintale hill, Mahinda IV (975-991 A.D.) termed it the Kațu Mahā Sāēya, and ordered its repair.
It is built in a small stone-paved court-yard, measuring about 38 by 40 feet, which is raised five feet above the ground level, and supported at the sides by an excellently cut revet
1 Some books state that these steps number 1,500, but this is erroneous. That number is only applicable to the whole of the steps on all parts of the hill, the monks say.
ment wall, with bold mouldings. A quadrantal stone moulding 16 inches high encloses the floor of this court.
This dagaba was evidently of the modern bell shape, and it is possibly the earliest one of this form which is known in Ceylon. If, as appears probable, the upper part was hemispherical, the height to the top of the dome may have been 16 feet. For 6 feet 10 inches the face-work consists of a series of well-cut stone mouldings. There are no basal platforms, but three are clearly indicated by mouldings which project beyond the others. Above this the structure is of brick. The diameter at the base is 27 feet 4 inches, and at the top of the mouldings about 18 feet. Nearly all the upper part is broken down, as shown on my sketch. As usual, rectangular stone flower altars were fixed at the four cardinal points, close to the base of the mouldings. A single flight of steps 6 feet 10 inches wide, on the west side, led to the dagaba platform.
Around this building there are the remains of a large and very regularly arranged monastery, the dāgaba being near the south-eastern corner of it. The whole is enclosed by a well built wall of uncoursed stone, four feet thick, with a coping of stone laid transversely. All the stones are wedged and slightly cut, the lower ones being squared and dressed on the beds and joints. Such a work as this wall is quite exceptional in Ceylon, nearly all the enclosing walls of monasteries being built of brick. In the illustration the Maha Sãēya and the Aet dāgaba are to be seen on the hill in the background.
THE AMBATTHALA DAGABA
This dagaba on the Mihintale hill was erected by King Mahā-dāṭhika Mahā-Nāga (9–21 A.D.), and is believed to mark the spot where the Buddhist apostle Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Aśōka, stood when Dēvānam-piya Tissa first saw him. A headless and armless statue near it, facing the dagaba, is traditionally said to represent the king and to mark his own position on that occasion. It has no ornaments on the chest or waist, and the sole clothing is a plain cloth from the waist to the ankles. When Mr. Smither examined it the head was there, and he wrote of it (p. II) that the head-dress consists of
a plain and slightly elevated pear-shaped cap encircled by a jewelled band or diadem; the ears are adorned with pendant ear-rings, and the neck with a jewelled neck-piece. The base is carved to represent an expanded lotus flower and it is precisely similar in design to
that found at the Thupārāma dāgaba.' Three octagonal pillars round it evidently supported a canopy over it.
The Ambatthala Dāgaba. .
It is recorded that after building the dāgaba MahāNāga held a great festival at which festoons of lamps were hung round the dagaba. Twenty-four thousand monks are said to have been present at this great celebration (Mah., i, p. 136). King Kaniṭṭha-Tissa constructed an edifice' over this dāgaba; possibly this was repaired by Mēghavaṇṇābhaya I (254-267 A.D.). We may assume that the structure was rifled during the Tamil domination in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, and that it was repaired, like the other principal dagabas, by the two Parakrama-Bāhus. It is now completely restored, and the early work is covered by a coat of plaster, like that at the Thūpārāma dāgaba. It is said to be built of stone. Its shape is intermediate between the Bell and the Heap-of-Paddy.
According to Mr. Smither its present dimensions are as follows:-The diameter of the dome at the top of the basal platform, or plinth, on which it rests is 23 feet, the plinth being 6 feet wider at its base. The height to the crown of the dome is stated by him to be 20 feet, but it measures only 18 feet on a photograph by Messrs. Skeen and Co., of Colombo, from which Fig. No. 91 is reduced. The height of the square tee is 3 feet in the photograph, and its side, exclusive of mouldings, 6 feet long. The spire rises about 9 feet higher, of which its cylindrical base occupies 3 feet 9 inches. The dagaba
rests on a platform 97 feet in diameter, which is raised four feet above the ground level, and is supported by a brick wall. There are no wāhalkaḍas; these ornamental structures were confined to the five Anuradhapura dāgabas already described.
This dagaba is surrounded by two circles of slender monolithic octagonal pillars, 12 feet high, the capitals of which are decorated with a procession of lions or hansas marching to the left (which would be their own right when facing front), or a row of dwarfs facing front. They have no tenons on the top; and whether the roof afterwards raised over the building rested on them or not, they appear to have been erected chiefly in order to carry the festoons of lamps that were hung from them at festivals. In shape they bear a close resemblance to those of the Thūpārāma dāgaba.
THE AET DAGABA
On the summit of the highest rocky point on the Mihintale hill a small structure, called the Aet (Tusk-elephants) dāgaba was built by an early ruler whose deed is not specially recorded in the histories. There are, however, some references to the dagaba in inscriptions.
On the side of a slab at the Thūpārāma dāgaba an inscription in letters resembling those used by Wasabha (66–110 A.D.) ends Ati c(e)tahi paca jara dini, the meaning of which appears to be 'At the Aet dagaba he gave (anew) the former decayed (work).' The name of the king is not visible on the stone. The words are quite clear, and the first two prove that this structure was already in existence when the inscription was cut.
Another very much worn inscription on the upright face of a rock near the dagaba, on the side of the path to it, cut in letters resembling those of the large rock inscription of King Gāmiņi-Abhaya,1 the son of a king called Nāga and grandson of one called Tissa, lower down the hill, ends c(e)ta padaya dini, 'He gave the dāgaba steps.' It appears to refer to the last flight of steps for ascending to the platform of the dagaba. The name of the king who made the grant is Naka Maharaja'; he may be the Siri-Naga II (245-247 A.D.) who is 1 Dr. E. Müller's Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, No. 20.
mentioned as the father of the king in the lower inscription, if Dr. E. Müller's identification of its author as Meghavanṇābhaya I is correct.
The repair of the dagaba is referred to in the long inscription of Mahinda IV,1 which was specially devoted to recording the king's orders regarding the management of the services and funds of the Aet wihāra, at that time evidently a very important establishment. We learn from it that the Aet and Idikatu monasteries were connected, and were held by monks who belonged to the Abhaya-giri Community. They were independent of the other two large Mihintale wihāras at which were the dagabas previously described.
On such a high and exposed site the dagaba would be extremely liable to be damaged by thunderstorms, and it is not surprising to find bricks of three or four periods employed in the lower part of the work. Some are of almost the same size as those in the inner room of the building termed the Daļadā Māligāwa, 'the Palace of the Tooth-Relic,' at Anurādhapura, and thus may have been burnt early in the fourth century, possibly by Meghavaṇṇābhaya II, who is described as evincing great interest in the Mihintale monasteries.
I have met with no reference to the construction of this dāgaba, unless it is one of the ten which were built on the hill by Wasabha, according to the Dipavansa (p. 216). There are a few brick fragments at it which are three inches thick; if they were burnt for it they must indicate that it is of preChristian date, but they may have been brought from some ruined building for use in the repairs.
I have no measurements of its dimensions; it is a very small work, and only of interest on account of its situation and Mahinda's inscription.
THE TISSA DAGABAS
Regarding the group of early works-the Mahānāga, Yaṭṭhāla, Sanda-giri, and Maeņik dāgabas-built at Tissa, the ancient Magama, in the Southern Province 2 little definite 1 Müller, op. cit., No. 121.
See Fig. No. 130 for their positions.