Stamp Bulletin No. 674 Special Issue

Ancient Sri Lanka - Stamp Series

Late Anuradhapura Era


Philatelic Bureau
Department of Posts,
Postal Headquarters, D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo 00100, SRI LANKA

The Philatelic Bureau of the department of Posts issued a set of 5 new postage stamps in the denominations of Rs.5.00, Rs. 10.00, Rs.15.00, Rs. 20.00 and Rs. 30.00 depicting the various phases and features of the late Anuradhapura period, on the 16th September 2008, as the 3rd set in the series of stamps depicting the historical heritage and features of Sri Lanka by the name of "Ancient Sri Lanka".

Stamps issues of the "Ancient Sri Lanka" Stamp series issued under the first and second phases, associated with the pre-historic, proto historic, and early Anuradhapura periods, portrayed the manner in which the Sri Lankan generations one hundred and twenty five thousand years (125,000) ago gradually enriched their life styles and embraced the golden cultural heritage of the Anuradhapura Era, utilizing their thought fullness to its maximum. Many revelations have been made at the Batadombalena, Kitulgala Belilena, Pahiangala Lena sites, relating to how the pre-historic man marched forward to success mobilizing their thoughtfulness. Horton plains provided evidence relating to agricultural lands in the new Stone Age.

The evidence so gathered revealed that the primeval man, who lived 15,000 years before, familiarized themselves with agriculture. In the proto-historic era they embarked on the use of Iran and proceeded successfully in a spiritual, economic, political and social background, with the capital ofAnuradhapura as the nucleus. The Aryan invasions in 6th century CE. also contributed in this regard. It has also been revealed that the Lankans inherited an advanced system of irrigation in the early Anuradhapura period.

When the post Anuradhapura period is compared with the earlier era it is observed that it was aperiod of chaos as aresult ofrepeated South Indian invasions. The internal revolts and weak administration also was a fact. There was peace during the reign of some kings. In such circumstances, arts and crafts, architecture and irrigation also flourished, attaining maturity. The arts and crafts and architectural creations which gradually advanced during the early Anuradhapura period achieved exemplary status in the post Anuradhapura period. Mr. Brohier has pointed out that the irrigation techniques also reached its supreme level in this period.

The post Anuradhapura period can be considered as an era during which exceptional architectural creations came into being. But, it is also observed that timber which was extensively used for architectural creations was replaced by brick and stone. New architectural patterns adorned the buildings.

Image houses were also given a new and complex look. It was also during the Anuradhapura era the spire of the stupa which then existed was converted into apinnacle. The Thupaghara and Bodhighara were special among them. It was later seen that Thupaghara or the Vatadage was given an ornamental finish. The Medirigiriya Vatadage, Thiriaya Vatadage can be quoted as examples.

This era saw a trend in Mahayana Buddhism expanding. In most Buddhist Arama complexes, Bodhisatva statues were constructed with the inculcation of Bodhisatva veneration in the minds of Lankans. It was in the Post Anuradhapura period that Bodhisatva images were erected island wide, ranging from mini metal statues to colossal stone images. But of uch structures, statues found at Buduruvagala, Dambegoda, Kushtaraj agala, Veherevagala sites are outstanding.

It has also been revealed that Padhanaghara (Piyangal), aset of unique Aramaya complexes mainly for the benefit of forest hermits or Pansakulika Bhikkus came into being during the Anuradhapura period. The building complexes thrown as Western Monastery situated adjacent to the cemetery within the city during the early Anurdhapura period belong to this era. An Aramaya for the "Pansakulika" Bhikkus was firstly constructed by King Manawamma (684-718 CE). Such Aramayas built mainly to suit an austere life are totally not of a sophisticated nature. In this Aramaya's carvins have been made on urinal stones, which depict the view that shedding of all comforts and pleasures or considering them with contempt was adopted. Padhanaghara complexes have been found at Ritigala, Arankele, Hattikuchchi Viharaya, Manakanda, Gurulupotha, outside the Anuradhapura city.

Out of the artistic creations visible today at Anuradhapura city, most exemplary works of art belong to the Anuradhapura era. Moonstones complete with carvings, Guard stones and Dwarf stones are all creations of this period. The Ratnaprasada guards stones, the charming moon stones merely and dwarf stone creations complete with carvings, close to Thuparamaya are creations belonging to the post Anuradhapura era. These works of art depict Gupta and Pallava, influences in the styles of art. Plaques at Isurumunia identified as the "Lovers" and the "Roval Family" are such examples. Wall paintings representing Post Anuradhapra period have been founded at several venues of the Island. Wall paintings belonging to the 5th century - 11th century CE have been found at several venues at Pulligoda, Mahiyangana relic chamber, Maraweeediya, Wessagiriya. Gonagolla, Karambagala, Kotiyagala, Caves at Sigiriva and Situlpawwa.

Evidence from each and every corner of the Island, state that works of art depicting the supreme phase of artistic and architectural progress are witnessed not only in Anuradhapura but throughout the whole country.

When investigating the currency in use the Gold Coin (Ran Kahavanu) needs special mention. This type of Rankahavanu had been in use from 8th century CE to 11th century CE. Other smaller type of coins fractional weight, have also been found.

Gold coins have been excavated at several sites of the country, and those found at excavations in Abhayagiriya are of a unique nature. During excavations done at the Pond at the Sangaramaya to the east of the Ahhayagiriya Dana Salava. ruins of an ancient factory have been found at the north western bank of the pond. Five gold plaques and 22 gold coins were found. On all these gold articles the weights have been indicated with the Sinhala syllables of the 8 - 9 centuries. The largest one carries the words "Hundred and two Kalandas". At a site to the east of the pond coin moulds made of clay used in the manufacture of coins have been found. These moulds also belong to the 9th century CE; notes and symbols on the obverse and reverse sides of the coin have been shown on the coin moulds. When the two lids are joined, there is a tiny opening in the shape of a funnel, to pour the melted gold into the coin mould.

Gold coins as well as various types of Jewellery and exemplary items relating to the manufacture of Jewelery have been discovered at the Abhayagiriya and Jetavana excavations: a whole lot of unfinished gold articles of a Jewelery manufacturer have been found in a metal container in the shape of a mango, at Abhayagiriya premises. Gold chains and a chain of an excellent quality made of gold thread were some of the items. A gold bangle with delicate carvings and two foot ornaments have been found at Abhayagiriya. At the Jethawanarama Complex too, parts of gold Jewelery with delicate carvings have been recovered. Some scholars state that they are ornaments used for Bodhisatva statues. Apart from such Jewelery items the Anuradhapura excavations have brought to light, clay beads, glass beads, beads made of carnelian in large quantities. These items bear ample proof pertaining to the artistic talents and skills of the then artists.

The irrigation technology of the country reaches its climax during the post Anuradhapura period. King Mugalan II(532-551 CE) King Agrabodhi I(571-604 CE) King Agrabodhi II(604-614 CE) King Mahinda II(777-797 CE) King Sena II(853-887 CE) and King Udaya II(887-898 CE) are Kings who rendered yeoman service relating to irrigation works in the post Anuradhapura period. Gangathatavapi alias Gangathalawewa ( Kantalai), Girithara Vapi alies Giritale Vewa, Erandagalla Vapi alias Enderagala Wewa were constructed by King Agrabodhi II. During this era most of the kings paid much concern in the renovation of tanks and irrigation systems. King Mahinda IV (956-972 CE) attended to the renovation of ruined tanks and it is mentioned that the water collected through such renovations paved the way to overcome the famine which prevailed during the times. Irrigation remained a work of excellence with the high technical know how can irrigation works, possessed by those concerned.

The health and sanitation patterns which existed during this age should also be considered with much significance. The "Janatagara" needs special mention. This structure mainly was for the purpose of providing hot water baths for the elderly and ailing Bhikkus. Such structures can be seen in several Buddhist Sangaramas. Apart from the Sangarama complexes in Anuradhpura, such "Janatagara" had been erected at Ritigala, Arankele, Haththikuchchi Viharaya venues. In addition to the hot water facility, there were grinding stones for the grinding of various medicinal items. Eco-friendly systems were in existence relating to sanitary needs. Urinals and latrines were separately maintained.

When erecting urinals a system was adopted where by the urine released was linked with the soil as pure water. Urine passed flowed through aset of pots placed one upon another. The urine so filtered flowed directly into the deeper soil layer. This bears ample proof, that health and sanitarian was considered with much regard.

On the whole, although chaos prevailed during the Anuradhapura era, as aresult of repeated invasions, the outstanding cultural status culminated during this age. The said cultural hentage which progressed through the long fifteen century period degenerated during the 1th century. With the internal conflicts and the Chola invasion during 993 CE, the Golden age in the history of the country, the Anuradhapuraperiod declined. The king made Polonnaruwa his capital and as such the long standing capital of Anuradhapura faded away.

Rs. 5.00 Ancient Sophisticated Technology and Technique: Medieval Gold Coin, its mould and gold ingot used for manufacturing gold coin

Ran Kahavanu is a type of coin used in Lanka from 8th century CE to the 11th century CE. Half (1/2) of the Kahavanu was identified as Ada Kahavanu and quarter (1/4) of the Kahavanu was identified as Deaka alias Palaya and eighth (1/8) of the Kahavanu was identified as Aka Information gathered reveal that the Aka coin had been in use up to almost the 15th century. Many theories have been raised with regard to symbols and words on the obverse and reverse of the coins. The date of issue or the name of the king are indicated on these coins. The coins have been manufactured by pouring melted gold into a clay mould made in the form of two lids.

Several lumps of gold recovered at the Abhayagiriya excavations are identified as "Gold tablets" (Swarna Palaka Pinda). The weight has been indicated in Kalanda the weight of a Kahavanu. The recovery of twenty two Kahavanu along with five "SwarnaPalakaPinda" (Gold Tablets) confirms that these lumps had been used in the manufacture of gold coins.

Architecture : Medirigiriya, Vatadageya and its conjectural drawing

The Meidirigiriya Viharaya has been a prominent Buddhist Sangarama in existence from the early Anuradhapura period. The most ancient source of information relating to Mediriginya is the Mahavamsa indication that King Kanittatissa built a Simamalaka for the Mandalagiri Viharaya in 2nd century CE (167-186 CE) mention is also made that in 7th century CE. During the reign of King Agrabodhi IV a person named Malayarasa had erected an attractive Watadage for the sttipa which existed there. This Watadage had been renovated by several kings who reigned later. Itis also revealed that the Mandalagiri Viharaya had been a significant buddhist centre up to 13th century CE.

The most glorious architectural construction is this Vihara complex is considered to be the Vatadageya. The Watadageya erected on an elevated circular dais, encircling the smaller stupas, gains prominence as an excellent architectural structure among all other Watadageyas in existence. This stamp depicts the remnants of this Watadage, and a creative design of the original nature of the Watadage, determine after an extensive study.

Sanitation, Living standard and Conservation of Environment: Urinal stone at Western Monasteries in Anuradhapura and cross section of Sanitary system

This is a urinal stone belonging to the western monastery "Padhanagara" Complex reserved for Pansakulika monks. In this Padhanagara complex, the only art of carving is the urinal stone scholars are of the view that these carvings made only on the urinal stone reflects the view that all worldly possessions should be shunned or treated with contempt.

The Pit of the Urinal stone is formed by placing three large terra-cotta pots placed one on top of another. The urine is filtered through the fillings in the pots and ultimately drains on to the soil as pure water. The priority placed in such ancient times on Health and Sanitation and the technology used can be considered as superb.

Jewellery : Bangle, Necklace with a Pendent, Anklet and Teerracotta beads Necklace

The jewellery recovered at Abhayagiriya is fabulous creations which portray the expertise in jewellery manufacturing. A necklace with a pendant, a bangle and foot ornaments are included. The fine and delicate carvings herein depicts the excellent creative ability of the sculptor. The necklace is made of gold thread. The necklace adorned with clay beads shown in the background, was gathered from the Jetawana Vihara complex. All these belong to the post Anuradhapura period.

Art & Sculpture : Bodhisatva Vajrapani and Avalokithesvara at Buduruwagala and Sculpture of Royal Family at Isurumuniya The Buduruvagala Bodhisatva Statue carved on a mountain, remains an exemplary carving among the Mahayana statues in Sri Lanka. The present remnants provide evidence that the statue was plastered and stained later. Depicted here are the Avalokatheshwara Maithriya and Wajrapani Bodhisatva triad in existence among other statues. The statues are considered to be belonging to the 8th - 9th centuries CE. The carved tabled identified as the "Royal Family" at present exhibited at the Isurumuniya Vihara Museum, originally said to have been in the Ranmasu Uyana is a superb piece of carving in the Island. These carvings depicting the Gupta style of sculpture are extremely charming. Professor Senarath Paranavithana is of opinion that the carving portrays King Dutugemunu with his queen in conversation with Saliya - Asokamala in the palace of prince Saliya.

Details of the Issue

Date of Issue 16th September 2008
Denominations Rs.5.00
Designer Basil Coory (5.00)
Stamp Size 60mm x 30mm
Format Horizontal
Printing Process Offset Lithography
Sheet Composition 8 Stamps per sheet
Perforations 12
Printers Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka
Colours (used) 4 Process Colours
Paper 102 gsm. Security Stamp Paper
Quantity Printed Rs. 5.00 - 1,000,000

PBB674 First Day Cover