Tantirimale, also spelt Thantirimale or Thanthirimale, is a pleasant place to visit and a highly interesting archaeological site. There is much more to see than the two rock-cut Buddha statues. Please read last December’s blog article, too.
In our series about colossal rock Buddhas in Sri Lanka, we must mention Tantirimale once more because of its recumbent Buddha, which is cut from the northern slope of Tantirimale’s highest rock. It is carved heading east and facing north, which is the direction of death, because it’s never the position of the sun. The reclining Buddha depicts the moment of Buddha’s passing away, which is identical with his transition to the final Nirvana (Parinirvana).
This large rock statue is 14 metres long, the solid granite is removed 2 metres to get the necessary space. A drip ledge is cut into the stone, too, in order to drain water without harming the shrine. Brick works and some holes in the main granite indicate, that the reclining Buddha was once sheltered under a roof, similar to the image house that once kept the Polonnaruwa Buddhas and does not exist any more, either.
Tantirimale’s reclining Buddha, almost of the same size as the world-famous lying Buddha in Polonnaruwa’s Gal Vihara, is likely to be from the very same period. Already former Ceylon’s British colonial commissioner of archaeology H. C. P. Bell presumed that both colossal reclining Buddhas were built during the Polonnaruwa period. Though the Polonnaruwa Buddha is much more elaboratme, there are some similarities in style. The robe is carved slenderly revealing the shape of the body. The belt of the robe is easily recognizable. The inner robe reaches the ankle surpassing the outer robe.
Regrettably, the face of the Tantirimale Buddhha has been completely destroyed by treasure hunters. The restored face is not the original one any more.
more information about the archaeological site of Tantirimale (Thanthirimale) here...
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