Stamp Bulletin No. 702 Special Issue

Ancient Sri Lanka - Stamp Series

Polonnaruwa Era


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

The Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Post issued the 4th set of Postage stamps in series, on Sri Lankan historic heritage and features under the name of "Ancient Sri Lanka", in the denominations of Rs. 5.00, Rs. 10.00, Rs. 15.00, Rs. 25.00, Rs. 30.00 and Rs. 40.00 on 23rd June, 2009, at the time of adopting a new logo for Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

The first postage series on "Ancient Sri Lanka", depict, Sri Lankan prehistoric and historic heritage and remarkable features. "Balangoda Manawaya" (People lived in Balangoda area) lived in Mediaeval stoneage, 15,000 years ago, evolved from the people who had lived in Sri Lanka before 125,000 years ago. They started farming. At about 1000 CE they had been lived much more civilized by using metals.

Second and Third stamp series depict, prehistoric era, great civilization around, Anuradhapura city and literacy heritage during that era. Arrival of Arhat Mahinda opened a golden era, to Buddhist and then unique architecture arts, impressive technology in irrigation at Anuradhapura era, became powerful stable nation.

The great civilized Anuradhapura era collapsed during 10th century due to weak ruling, internal struggles, south indian invasions during the regime of king Mahinda V (982 - 1029CE) Anuradhapura period, collapsed due to Chola invation. Samantha of Chola emperor ruled the country transferring capital into Polonnaruwa. For whole two centuries under Chola colony from 1017 CE, then Kalinga Maga invation, until king Vijayabahu III (1032-1036CE) liberated the country, Pollonnaruwa held as Capital.

Polonnaruwa had been civilized and developed since BCE period, "Vijithapura", where "Dutugemunu, Elara" battle occured may be present Pollonnaruwa. The most ancient archeological witness found in Polonnaruwa at present is in Gopala Pabbatha. It belonged to the 1st century (CE). King Upatissa's (365-406CE) regime in Polonnaruwa period was the first to be mention in Historic Books (Wansha Katha). He constructed Topa Wewa. Maha Panadipa Viharaya was in Polonnaruwa built by King Aggabothi III (629-639CE). Since 7th century, foreign invasions and inner struggles occured many times. This could be the reason, for transferring kingdom from Anuradhapura to Polannaruwa as a temporary control centre. King Aggabodhi IV (667-683CE) also transferred the Capital into Polonnaruwa as a temporary control centre and died there. King Aggabodhi VI transferred his government into Pollonnaruwa, latter part of his regime. King Mahinda II (777-797CE) built a Pirivena for Dama Viharaya and Thambilitota Pirivena. King Udaya (797-801 CE) built hospital in Polonnaruwa.

In 1017 AD. Soli People defeated King Mihindu V, transferred regime to Polonnaruwa changed its name to Jananathapura. Starting point of Polonnaruwa era indicate here according to chulawansa until king Vijayabahu the great freed the country; Soli people ruled the country destroying the culture as demons. During this period large number of buildings were built to satisfy Hindu ruling and religion, in Polonnaruwa. Present Shiva Devalas were constructed during that period.

Vijayabahu the great (1055-11l0CE) freed the country, his coronation took place in the newly built palace in Anuradhapura, but he chosed Polonnaruwa as a Capital of his kingdom. Since then more than fifteen powerful and power less kings and queens ruled the country, chosing "Polonnaruwa" as capital. After Kalinga-Maga invasion, Polonnaruwa as a capital Collapsed forever.

Number of buildings within the ancient Polonnaruwa city were constructed by Parakkramabahu the great (1153-1186CE). Among those the Raja Maligawa (Palace)), Auditorium. (Administrative buildings), religious buildings mainly Alahana Pinvena; The great Parakrama Samudraya, Angammadilla (Irrigation Technology) get together and formed a completed city. King Parakkramabahu the great claimed much honour for decorating and completing the City ofPolonnaruwa. The second place goes to king Nisshankamalla (1187-1196CE). He added new buildings to the city while restoring the collapsed ones.

Resemblance can be seen in Sri Lankan arts and South Indian arts, due to fifty (50) year chola regime. Hindu devalas in Polonnaruwa city were built with the help of South Indian architecture. Even after Chola ruling and during Sinhalese ruling the good relationship between two cultures, Sinhala and Hindu could be seen, it is clearly indicated through the present buildings. The sign of cow in the Moon Stoneremoved as it is consider as the holy one because it is the vehicle of God Shiva. South Indian architectural tradition of "Gedige" used in building Image houses.

Collapsed irrigation technology regenerated during the period ofParakkramabahu the great. Sri Lanka renowned as "Eastern Granary" through the prosperity of Paddy Cultivation. The hostipal built within "Alahana Pirivena", depicted the development in medicine during that period. The theatre tools found in this hospital were in much developed stage. when compared with today.

Letters used in Polonnaruwa era were in much developed stage too when consider today. Letter of Polonnaruwa "Kathikawatha" written by king Parakramabahu the great is in Galviharaya. Galpotha Lipiya (letter in stone) Puwaru Lipi (letter, written in board), Asana Lipi were written by king Nisshankamalla. Pana Kaduwa, Copper sannasa, Wellakkara Tamil inscription were belonged to King Vijayabahu the great. All those belonged to Polonnaruwa period.

Vijayabahu the great was the first Lankan King to put his name on a coin. Earlier kings issued anonymous gold coins. Gradually the quality of gold in coins reduced, then silver coins, later on copper coins were issued. Since then centuries passed, without issue of local gold coins. Monarchs after King Vijayabahu followed his style and issued coins with their names on the coin.

The names of Lankan Monarchs who issued coins with their name are listed below:

Vijayabuhu I (1055-1111) Sri Vijayabahu
Parakramabahu (1153-1186) Sri Parakramabahu
Nisshankamalla (1187-1196) Sri Kalegalakeja
Codaganga (1196-1197) Sri Codagadeva
Lilawathi Queen (1197-1200,
Sri Raja Lilawathi
Sahassamalla (1200-1202) Sri Mathsahasamalla
Darmashoka (1208-1209) Sri Darmashokadeva
Parakramabahu II (1236-1271) Sri Parakramabahu
Vijayabahu IV (1271-1273) Sri Vijayabahu
Buwanekabahu I (1273-1284) Sri Buwanekabahu

Power of struggle inside the country after regime of Parakramabahu the great became confused: No powerful ruler, who could face successfully to inner power of struggles, after king Nishshankamalla. Therfore no considerable development occur after the king Nishshankamalla regime. Decorated buildings were destroyed by Kalinga Maga.

Rs. 5.00 - Language, Trade, Money.

Galpotha inscription, obverse and reverse of massa coin issued in the reign of Queen Lilawathi

A huge stone situated eastern side of "Vatadageya" in holy square, contain inscription, called the Galpotha (a stone book). It is in 26 feet, 10 inches length and 4 feet, 7 inches width. It is stated, on the stone, that it was taken from Segiriya (Present Mihintale). It was king Nishshankamalla's creation. The inscription contain, his own self-commendation and his claim to the Lankan throne. Side of the pillar has got carving of "Gaja Lakshmi".

Among the kings in Polonnaruwa, Queen Lilawathie ruled the country thrice. She issued a copper massa coin with name "Sri RajaLilawathie" written in Deva Nagari on its reverse.

Rs. 10.00 Consistency in Religion an in Nation

Shiva Deva!aya in Polonnaruwa and Tools used in those devalas

The devalaya mentioned above is the oldest building in Polonnaruwa, built entirely with stones. This was built according to the style of South Indian Architecture in 11th century. The inscription in the devalaya premises, mentions Wanawanama Devi Ishwaramudeyai was its name. This namewas given afterking Raja Raja Chola wife's (Bisowa) name. Male part of (Shiva Linga) is in the Devalaya.

The tools which was found through the excavation in the devalaya premises had used in ceremonial activities (Puda Pooja) in Shiva Devalaya.

Rs. 15.00 Irrigation Civilisation -

Parakkrama Sainudraya and image of Parakramabahu the great or image of a saint.

Marvelous and unique creation ofParakkrama Samudraya constructed with main tanks named, Thopa Wewa, Dambutulu Wewa, and Erabadu Wewa. The creator of this huge reservoir was Parakkramabahu the great in Polonnaruwa era. This has changed in to a Nishshanka Malla "Samudraya" by king Nishshankamalla, after regime of king Parakkramabahu the great.

Stone carved image of a king or a noble person in Pothgul Vihara Complex, are much renowned. The person, indicate here, still not identified. Number of predicaments about this, some says it is image of Parakkramabahu the great or saint pulasthi or agasti.

Rs. 25.00 Architechuries -

Parakkaramabahu Palace and Nisghanka Raja Sabawa

The huge building in the inner city is the palace. This was constructed by Parakkaramabahu the great and named Vijayothpaya or Vaijayanti Pasada. Vijayanthi is in Heavan, by giving such a name for his palace, denotes a his ambition to build a heavenly decorated palace. Palace consist of seven floors and sixteen rooms. According to the Mahawansa, seven years and seven months gone to build the palace. Nishshanka Raja Sabawa (Royal meeting Place) situated nearby Parakkarama Samudraya. The stoney lion image at the inner corner of the kings auditorium was the chair of kings Nishshankamala said the inscription there. Some of pillers in two rows of pillers inside the building contain brief inscriptions. It indicate the tittle of an officer who should seated nearby pillar. This opens way to get clear knowledge about a ancient administration and officers.

Rs. 30.00 Health and Sanitary -

Ancient Hospital in Pollonnaruwa, Theatre equipment, moulder

Ancient Hospital, being one of unique building among AlahanaPiriven complex situated north to the Rankoth Vehera. The hospital with middle graded (Meda Midula) and stoney medicinal bath (Beheth Oruwa) in one room was built by king Parakkramabahu the great. Excavations done here, in the hospital premises could recover grinder which used to grind medicine, theatre tools chineese ceramic container which would be used to store medicine. It is miracle to see the resemblence of theatre tools earlier to today ones.

Rs. 40.00 Art of carving in Hindus -

Murthi of Uma, ShiM Vahana Skanda and Karrikkal Ammaiya Shiva & Uma (Carvings of Somaskanda)

This carving shows, God of Shiva put down his one leg while bending another on the seat. Out of four arms upper right arm with parasuwak (Keteriya) Upper left arm carries caribal image. lower right arm seal of abaya while lower left arm seals warda.

The carvings here in this image identified as goddess Uma. Here is image of goddess also carved, seating on a chair putting down left leg while bending the other on the seat with the style of Lalithasana. The two carvings when get together called "Somaskanda".

Shiki Vahana Skanda

The image with the style of Chola tradition belongs the 12th century was found from No. 5 Shiva Devalaya. Image was created in the style of Mayura Vehicel (Peacock) on square foundation.

Karikkai Ammiyar.

This Bronze Icon built to a Soild architechturing style was found at No.5 Shiva Devalaya. This Hindu icon is uncommon. The icon indicates inhuman, thin and ugly picture of a woman.

Details of the Issue

Date of Issue 23rd June 2009
Denominations Rs.5.00,
Designer Sudath Jayawardene (5.00)
Stamp Size 82mm x 30mm
Format Horizontal
Printing Process Offset Lithography
Sheet Composition 8 Stamps per sheet
Perforations 14 x 13½
Printers Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka
Colours (used) 4 Process Colours
Paper 102 gsm. Security Stamp Paper
Quantity Printed Rs.5.00 - 500,000

PBB702a First Day Cover