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information is available. The original shape of the upper part of their superstructures is lost, but on account of their early date it may be assumed that all, with the exception of the Maeņik dāgaba, had more or less hemispherical domes, with the usual tee, and a spire with a chatta terminal. All are without wāhalkaḍas or surrounding pillars.
The dimensions of the bricks used in these four dāgabas and another small unnamed one near the high level channel from the tank, throw some light on the period when they were built. They are given in inches in the following table.
It is clear that the sizes of the early bricks used at Tissa were much more uniform than those at Anuradhapura; and this being so they may indicate that the Maeņik or 'Gem' dāgaba was erected by the king who constructed the Sandagiri, the Moon-hill,' or his son; and that probably both these works are of somewhat later date than the first two in the list. The evidence afforded by the bricks is thus in favour of the statement in the Pūjāvaliya that Sanda-giri dates from the time of Kakavaṇṇa-Tissa, that is, early in the first half of the second century B.C. The Dhātuvansa, however, attributes the construction of the Sanda-giri wihāra to King MahaNāga. The later monarch may have added the dāgaba to it.
THE MAHĀNĀGA DĀGABA
The first dagaba constructed there was undoubtedly the largest one, at the Nāga Mahārāma monastery, which was built by King Maha-Naga, the brother of Dēvānam-piya Tissa. The Mahavansa records his founding of this wihāra' bearing his own name' (i, p, 83); it was therefore built early in the second half of the third century B.C. If I remember aright, I was informed that it enshrined the right temple bone of Buddha,
but the Dhatuvansa, which gives many particulars of the Tissa works, does not contain this statement.
The superstructure of the dagaba was repaired or raised by King Ila-Naga (38-44 A.D.), who left an inscription recording his work on a stone that is now replaced in the dāgaba, but was previously seen by Dr. Paul Goldschmidt, who copied the inscription.1
King Võharaka-Tissa (215-237 A.D.) repaired the chatta on the spire (Mah., i, p. 144). During the Sōla domination in the eleventh century this and the other dagabas at Tissa 'that belonged to the three Fraternities' were broken into. The next Sinhalese king, Wijaya-Bahu I (1065-1120 A.D.) restored them.
They all appear to have been rifled again, more thoroughly than on the previous occasion, during the reign of the Indian king Magha (1215-1236 A.D.), and apparently were not afterwards restored. The tradition of this desecration has been preserved locally.
In 1883, when I first visited Tissa, the restoration of the Mahānāga dāgaba had made considerable progress under the supervision of the incumbent of the wihara, by means of the subscriptions of the numerous pilgrims who flocked there from the Southern and Western Provinces at the annual festivals;
1 Dr. E. Müller's Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, No. 4.
and the outer shell of the dome was already rebuilt. It had three basal ledges, above which it appeared to be nearly vertical for several feet in height, the whole dome being apparently almost a hemisphere. A square tee was afterwards built, and a spire was being added when I last saw the work (see Fig. No. 92). This was subsequently completed.
The method adopted for raising the materials for the superstructure was probably the same primitive one which was employed by the pre-Christian constructors. A long ladder of sticks and bamboos was erected up the surface of the dome, and on this a continuous line of men stood, each receiving the materials-bricks or mortar-from the man below, and handing them to the man above, without moving from his post. At one time about seventy men were employed in this chain, all working without remuneration for the sake of acquiring ́ merit' which would beneficially affect their prospects in their next existence. I suggested the use of a winch fixed on the pavement, but the old-fashioned method of their ancestors was adhered to.
On some of the bricks of the largest size I found letters engraved by the brick-makers before they were burnt. These were of the angular type which marks the earliest period of writing in Ceylon.
Through the kindness of Mr. T. Hamer, of the Irrigation Department, I am indebted to the Irrigation Guardian at Tissa for the following dimensions of this dāgaba as now restored. The diameter at the base is 164.5 feet. Above this there are three cylindrical platforms forming narrow steps round the dome; the lowest step is 6 feet high and 4 feet wide, the second one 4 feet high and 3 feet wide, and the upper one 2 feet high and 4 feet wide. The diameter of the dome, deduced from the circumference, like other diameters given, is 140-7 feet. The dome is 86 feet high.
The tee is very wide, and is 60 feet square, a size which agrees with my own photograph. It is said to be 20 feet high, but in my photograph measures only 15 feet. The base of the spire is 53.4 feet in diameter and 15 feet high. The spire tapers for 41 feet, being 45-8 feet in diameter at the bottom. The gilt finial is 11 feet high. The
total height thus becomes 185 feet. The height of the dome closely follows the Canon given below, which would require it to be 84.4 feet high.
THE SANDAGIRI DAGABA, the next in size to the Mahānāga dāgaba, has become a mere high tumulus-like mound partly overgrown with jungle and trees. I have no details of it.
THE YATTHALA Dāgaba
I possess no measurements of the Yaṭṭhāla dāgaba, the repair of which was begun when I was at Tissa. It is somewhat larger than the Maenik dāgaba. Its construction is credited by the Dhātuvansa to King Mahā-Nāga, and the size of the bricks used in it affords some corroboration of this statement. Possibly it was completed by his son YaṭṭhālaTissa, with whom the name seems to connect it.
This dāgaba had a deep vertical cut made by treasure seekers; it passed entirely through the upper part of the dome, which appeared to be of the usual hemispherical shape. The whole inner work thus disclosed showed no mark of a rebuilding such as is recognised everywhere by the employment of a large proportion of broken bricks, or bricks of a later date than those used in the original work. All were whole bricks of the same large size; and on many of them letters of the very earliest type, with the long attached vowels, some of which perhaps do not occur elsewhere in Ceylon with letters of this early form, were inscribed, or in a few instances impressed by wooden stamps, before they were burnt. A series of these bricks was sent by me to the Colombo Museum.
At first I supposed that these letters were the initials of the various brickmakers; but now I feel little doubt that they were the initials of pious persons who paid for their manufacture and presented them to the builders of the dagaba, as an act of religious merit. If stamped letters and letters written in quite different styles are the initials of separate names, I found more than eighty persons represented.
When the restoration of the Yaṭṭhāla dagaba was begun in 1883, the surrounding débris was first removed, and in it were found several articles of great interest, which had been taken
out of the relic-chamber by the treasure seekers, and had evidently been thrown aside as valueless. That they formed part of the original contents of the relic-room, as it was left by Mahā-Nāga or his son, is rendered most probable by the fact that among them were two small moderately thick Purānas, or silver coins of the early Indian type, one nearly square and the other of a more irregular shape, without punch marks. They resembled some unpunched coins of this kind found in India, which date from a period considerably antecedent to the Christian era. There was also the greater part of an engraved carnelian gem, which had been set in a signet ring, and which is considered at the British Museum to belong possibly to the third century B.C., and to be certainly preChristian. I describe and illustrate it below, in a chapter on the earliest coinage of Ceylon (see Fig. 156).
The other articles found at the dagaba were four small relic-caskets or karanḍuwas, cut from gems. One (Fig. No. 93) was a chrysoberyl, another (Fig. No. 96) an amethyst or purple crystal, and the other two were of rock crystal, one (Fig. No. 94) being brownish in colour, and the other (Fig. No. 95) quite clear. They are all now replaced in the new relic-chamber, the restoration of this dāgaba having been completed some years ago; but I was able to make drawings of them which are of value as illustrating some of the early types of dagabas.
Each karaṇḍuwa represented a dagaba with either one or two basal platforms, but only two were provided with a tee. The smallest one was especially valuable as the only example in Ceylon of a dagaba with a spire surmounted by a chatta, the horizontal extension of which is of course exaggerated in this stopper. The brown crystal had a lathe-turned stopper forming a plainspire of circular section, tapering so as to fit accurately into the cylindrical hollow which is drilled for receiving the relics. The stoppers of the other two karaṇḍuwas were not discovered.
Each relic-case is provided with a tubular well, drilled into the stone from the top, as shown in dotted lines in the illustrations; and in the smallest one two flakes of gold in which the relics were enveloped, making small packages about the size of a