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Bopearachchi, Osmund
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
Claremont Colleges Library
Contributing Institution
Claremont Colleges Library
Ancient Cultural Sites and Royal Residences
Rights Information
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License -
This is a moonstone or sandakadapahana - a semi-circular stone slab (originally rectangular in shape), which may be highly decorated or left undecorated. It is found at the bottom of a flight of stairs leading to a stupa or shrine or other edifice. The famous moonstone at the image house, King Mahasen's pavilion (earlier known as the Queen's pavilion - Biso Maligāva), is considered the most beautiful extant example of one. Although considered unique to Sri Lanka, an early example is also found at the Buddhist Caitya, in Nāgārjunikonda, India, among other sites on the sub-continent. According to the late eminent archeologist Senarat Paranavitane moonstones symbolize samsaric life (endless life cycles). More recently, others have presented different interpretations. The moonstones were used as a paving on which to wash feet. In the semi-circle below that of the flame motif there are thirteen animal figures in three sequences of an elephant, horse, lion, and bull, with the elephant repeated a fourth time. Next to the semicircle of the foliage there are thirteen sacred geese, each holding a bud with two leaves. Finally, in the center of the moonstone is the lotus motif. The lotus is the symbol of purity and the symbolism of the lotus represents the pure abodes. See the Glossary for a fuller description. Length: 9.5 feet. Width: 4 feet 9 inches. Diameter: 2.920 meters. Sculptured on gneiss.
Moonstones (Early to late Anurādhapura Period)
Time Period
Circa 8th century CE
Abhayagiri Monastery
Sri Lanka
Ancient Buddhist Sites and Royal Residences in Sri Lanka -

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