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date: 15 October 2019

Dambulla [Jambukola; Pali: Chāta-pabbata]locked

  • Raja de Silva

Extract

[Jambukola; Pali: Chāta-pabbata]

A large rocky outcrop in central Sri Lanka noted for its cave shrines and paintings, which flourished from the 2nd century bc. On the upper slopes of the outcrop of gneiss 600 m long and 150 m above the surrounding plain is a series of five caves, aligned east–west and more or less contiguous, which have been occupied from the 2nd century bc and which form the nucleus of a modern Buddhist temple. At the base of the rock there are additional caves, a stupa (Sinh. dāgaba) and other remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery. This monastery was patronized by kings of the 2nd–1st centuries bc, as is evident from numerous inscriptions. The main Dambulla cave shrines were restored in the 12th and 18th centuries ad. The statuary belongs largely to the 12th century and consists of Buddha figures, images of bodhisattvas, the Hindu god Vishnu, the local god Saman and royal benefactors. While stone was used in some cases, the figures were generally modelled in clay with wooden armatures, then lightly plastered and painted. Four of the Dambulla caves have paintings on the walls and ceilings that are attributable to the 18th century....

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