Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Forest Deity of Ceylon. The javelin and the apparent bident which appear on several coins also point to the latter gods or Durga as being the deity who is commonly represented. In some unworn coins of Wijaya-Bāhu, also, a weapon with a long sharp-pointed head is distinctly shown at the side of the article held in the right hand of the standing figure; it resembles the weapon at the side of Skanda on coin No. 9 of Plate VI, C. A. I., and No. 15 of Plate XXI, Ind. Mus. Cat. In the Pandiyan coin No. 143, Plate IV, of Elliot's Coins of S. India a similar figure who has the trident at his side must be Šiva or one of his sons.

In the same manner as in the later Sinhalese coinage, the king is delineated on one face of many Indian coins, and a deity on the other. In the Gupta coinage the latter is often Siva or a goddess; but Skanda also appears in other coins, and he would be specially appropriate for the Ceylon money on account of his local connection with the island. As for the bangles and anklets, all the Dwarpal in Ceylon have them.

That the figure is a deity is also indicated by the presence of the arched line or circlet of 5, 7, or 9 beads which in some cases passes round and over the head of the standing figure, but not over the head of the seated person. Each of the Dwarpal in Ceylon, with the exception of figures of Bhairava, is protected by the expanded hoods of a Cobra which has 5, 7, 9, II, or in one instance 13 heads; and in several of these carvings which are somewhat worn the heads stand out from the arched line of the hoods like large beads. Thus it is possible that the beads round the head of the standing figure symbolise, if they do not actually represent, the many-headed cobra guarding or sheltering him.

Where one bead is shown on each side of the neck it is merely the ear-pendant. When near the waist it is the fold of the sash which holds up the cloth. The arched line which passes overhead in some coins may be a' chatta' or umbrella, with a scalloped fringe in some instances.

I conclude, therefore, that in all cases the standing figure shown on the Sinhalese coinage, whether ancient or more recent, is a guardian deity and not the king.

« PreviousContinue »