One of the most celebrated works of art in relief ancient Sri Lanka is called "moonstone" due to its semicircular shape. Found in front of temple entrances, Sri Lankan moonstones are Often called "most beautiful doormats of the world". There are Moonstones from very different historical and style periods, the classic one being Anuradhapura moonstones from the second half of the first millenium AD.
When entering the temple, the moonstone can be regarded as a referral to the Buddhist salvation path, from the semi-circular edge of the relief stone to its center. The path starts at the very flame crown of the moonstone, which represents the fire of greed, hatred and delusion, the three drivers of the bias in the cycle of painful existence. Thesis 3 fundamental evils keep life caught in samsara, the cycle of rebirths. The setting of this cycle of birth and death is this mortal world, a world Spatially Extending in all directions. There are the so-called "Four Buddhist Animals" representing the four cardinal directions - and therefore symbolizing this mortal world: elephant, horse, bull and lion. The four animals are wll known from the four sides of the Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath (near Varanasi in UP, India), Which is one of the most ancient works of Buddhist art at all.
This mortal world is full of suffering, meaning to endless recurrence of birth (traditionally symbolized by the elephant), disease (lion), aging (bull) and death (horse). The four animals are Depicted 13 times, since at the end of the twelfth month only begins a new year, number 13 symbolizes the beginning of the next cycle. But whoever sees through this endless chain of suffering - which is the first of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha - has already taken the first step on his way of salvation. His spirit is boosted, as the geese of the inner bands of the moonstone, so They represent distinction between good and evil. By the power of his spiritual insight, he wants to reach purity, Which is symbolized be the lotus, Which forms the center of the moonstone.
However, de purity is only at the beginning of the actual rise into very different levels of salvation. These levels are in another dimension, so to speak, levels Represented by the stairs leading into the temple, behind and beyond the moonstone.
This post is the final one of our Anuradhapura series this year. Next month our blog will have a small series of blog articles about Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka's second most significant archaeological site. Polonnaruwa Moonstones from the 12th century, differing in style from the classical Anuradhapura moonstone, will be described in a blog article end of next month.
Kandy Moonstones are from the 18th century.
We already published in article about Kandy Moonstones here ...
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