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A small room for containing other relics was also built on the southern side of the dāgaba in the paved court-yard. It was looked upon as a building of extreme importance, and in the reign of Dappula III (827-843 A.D.) we are told that his 'General named Vajira who was a man large at heart covered the Thūpa house at the Thūpārāma with tiles of gold as became it, and fixed doors also of gold in the house' (Mah., ii, p. 61). Mahinda IV (975-991 A.D.) made a door of gold for it like the Mount Sineru shining with the rays of the sun' (Mah., ii, p. 87).
King Lajji-Tissa (119-109 B.C.) is stated to have enclosed the cetiya in a superb case of stone' (Mah., i, p. 128). If this was a course of cut stone which covered the whole dome no trace of it remains. A golden pinnacle was fixed on the spire by King Upatissa II (370-412 A.D.), the dagaba being despoiled of it by Dāṭhōpa-Tissa I (640-652 A.D.).
In the time of Aggabōdhi II (598-608 A.D.) a large section of the structure slipped down, exposing the relic-chamber, in which the relics were found lying undisturbed. They were replaced when the repairs were made by this king. Of the relic-chamber it is said (Mah., ii, p. 21), 'he arranged four images throughout the relic-room, also a throne made of solid stone, and a golden canopy, and other works of art inlaid with stone and ivory.' The room as rebuilt appears to have been one of considerable size.
During the reign of Aggabōdhi III (624-640 A.D.) it is related (Mah., ii., p. 31) that this dāgaba was rifled by the subking Kassapa of the invaluable relics and gems placed in it in the time of Dēvānampiya Tissa, and was completely demolished; but doubtless this refers only to the upper part of the dome, where the relic-room was made. It was restored probably to its original form during the same king's reign, at a cost of only 1,000 pieces of money, an amount which shows. that the damage was partial only (Mah., ii, p. 31); and a pinnacle studded with gems was fixed on the top of the spire by Kassapa after he succeeded to the throne, and found it advisable to conciliate the influential Community of Monks.
Mahinda III (787-807 A.D.) made for this dāgaba a cover of gold and ornamented it with bands of silver. These were carried off by Pandiyan invaders from Madura, in the reign of Sēna I (846-866 a.d.). His nephew Sēna II (866–901 A.D.) invaded Southern India, and sacked Madura in revenge for this and other spoliations (Mah., ii, p. 69).
Udaya I (901-912 A.D.) 'covered the Thupa at the Thūpārāma with a band of gold,' and Mahinda IV (975-991 A.D.) also fixed bands of gold and silver on the dome.
It was broken into during the domination of the Tamil invaders in the eleventh century, and was surrounded with jungle when Parākrama-Bāhu I (1164-1197 A.D.) undertook its repair.
During the reign of the Kalinga conqueror Māgha (12151236 A.D.), the dāgabas throughout the whole country were ransacked for treasure, and that at the Thūpārāma was certainly one of the first to suffer, but it was restored again in the reign of King Parakrama-Bāhu II (12401275 A.D.).
In the first half of last century the illustration given by Major Forbes1 shows it as nearly flat on the top, which was covered with brushwood; it was considerably narrower below. An earlier drawing belonging to the time of Kirtti-Sri (1747-1780) on the wall of the Dambulla cave wihāra represents it as being of the ordinary bell-shape, and without a 'chatta,' or umbrella, on the top of the spire, the general idea being perhaps copied, as the monks at the temple state, from an earlier illustration of it there, done in the reign of NiśśankaMalla (1198-1207 A.D.).
It was finally restored in the form of a bell-shaped structure of very graceful proportions. The diameter at the springing of the dome of the bell is 31 feet, and at the base 40 feet 6 inches, the latter being probably nearly its original measurement. The height to the top of the spire is 55 feet 6 inches.2
1 Eleven Years in Ceylon, Vol. i, p. 226. It was in the same state when Sir Emerson Tennent visited the town in 1848; it must have been restored soon afterwards.
2 Smither. Architectural Remains, p. 3.
The arrangement of the pillars, all being of gneiss, which surround the dāgaba is stated by Mr. Smither to have been as follows. In the inner circle there were 52 pillars, each, like those in the next two circles, being 12 inches square in the lower part and octagonal in the upper part; they are 22 feet 10 inches high to the tops of the capitals, which have long tenons projecting. In the second circle there were 36 pillars, 21 feet 3 inches high, also with tenons on the capitals; in the third circle 40 pillars, 19 feet 9 inches high, with a round boss
in place of a tenon; and in the outer circle 48 octagonal pillars, 14 feet high, with a similar boss. The shafts are all monoliths, and they and the capitals are admirably cut. The histories do not record their erection; doubtless they are of considerably later date than the body of the dāgaba, and their general resemblance to those fixed round the Ambatthala dāgaba, described below, although some of the details are of an older type, may indicate that they belong more nearly to the period when the latter were cut (which was possibly early in
the first century A.D.), or to some time approaching that date, say, the first century B.C.
The illustrations (Figs. 65-69) show the outline of the dāgaba as now restored, as well as the form of the capitals and the decorations of these beautiful pillars. The dwarfs carved on them are repeated on the outermost pillars; on the others their place is taken by horned lions, sitting upright on their haunches and facing front, with their fore-paws raised to the level of their faces, as though about to spring forward, and by standing crested birds with elevated wings, also facing outwards.
In his History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, p. 194, Fergusson stated his confident opinion that it can hardly be doubted that these [pillars] represent, and take the place of, the rail of the northern [that is, Indian] topes, and subserve the same purpose, but in what manner is not at first sight very apparent. Referring, however, to what was said above, about the Ceylonese preferring painting to sculpture, it does not seem difficult to explain the anomaly. These pillars were originally, I fancy, connected with one another by beams of wood on their capitals, and from these, frames or curtains may have been suspended covered with the paintings which are so indispensable a part of Buddhist decoration.' In this view Mr. Smither concurred.2
Notwithstanding the high authority in favour of this explanation, I venture to express my inability to accept this theory. It does not account for the absence of tenons from the tops of the pillars of the two outer circles. Mr. Smither believed that the frames were hung only at the two inner circles of pillars; this still leaves the outer circles without any apparent function, and the tenons of the inner pillars, some of which are 8 inches long, are much larger than such a purpose would require.
It is evident, also, that the meaning of the 'Buddhist
1 Reduced from Mr. Smither's drawing, by the kind permission of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
2 Architectural Remains, P. 5.
railing' has been completely misapprehended. The railing forms a magical protection against evil spirits the magic circle or square-for the relics enclosed within it; and the three rails usually found in it most probably typify the three protecting 'Refuges' of Buddhism-the Buddha, the Law, and the Community of Monks. That this is the chief if not the only function of the railing is proved by the stationing Nāgas and Yakshas as guards at the entrances in it at Bharhut, in India; they were not there to keep away the human beings for whose use the openings were made, but to forbid the approach of evil spirits, whom they alone could detect and stop,1 just as Nāgas (Fig. 8) guard the great dāgabas of Anurādhapura, and Rākshasas act as protectors at the Gōpuras of Southern India (see Fig. 4).
Thus the principal member is the railing itself; the uprights, however much they may be decorated, are merely secondary, as its supporters. It is therefore impossible that a series of slender pillars can fulfil its function and take its place.
At Maederigiriya, five miles south-east of Kawdulu tank, the late Mr. Ievers, when Government Agent of the Northcentral Province, found a dāgaba, a copy in miniature of the Thūpārāma [dāgaba],' at which, between the outer pillars there was 'a wall about three feet high, generally formed of a single slab of stone deeply carved in the post-and-rail pattern.' There is nothing to indicate that any detached fence of this kind existed at the Thūpārāma or any other dāgaba at Anuradhapura.
No example of the hanging of paintings round dāgabas, either in Ceylon or elsewhere, has been quoted by Fergusson— nor is it necessary. The purpose for which the circles of pillars were erected round them is explained quite clearly in the histories, and will be found stated in my account of the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba. They were employed for supporting festoons of lamps, and two instances are mentioned in which such pillars
1 On the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief.