Sandakada pahana

Sandakada pahana - Moonstone

Sandakada pahana, also known as Moonstone, is a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka. It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy periods. According to historians, the sandakada pahana symbolises the cycle of Samsara in Buddhism

The carvings of the semi circular stone slab were the same in every sandakada pahana. A half lotus was carved in the centre, which was enclosed by several concentric bands. The first band from the half lotus is decorated with a procession of swans, followed by a band with an intricate foliage design known as liyavel (Creeper) which represents desire. The third band has carvings of four animals; elephants, lions, horses, and bulls. These four animals follow each other in a procession symbolising the four noble truths (Chathurarya sathya) or the four stages in life: birth, old age, disease and death. The fourth and outermost band contains a carving of flames, usually interpreted as representing the never ending cycle of life and the pains of passion that the people are experiencing.

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