Carved pillar figures of Polonnaruwa | Daily News


Carved pillar figures of Polonnaruwa

Beautifully carved stone pillars are still seen at Atadageya in Polonnaruwa. Atadageya was the temple of the tooth relic, which was built by King Vijayabahu 1 after he freed the country from Cholas. King Vijayabahu 1 instructed one of his ministers named Deva to build up this excellent construction. According to historical evidence, the ground floor of the Lord Buddha’s images was installed for worship. Still, the Buddha’s dynamic images are seen at the temple building sites. The upper floor of the temple was allocated to keep the sacred tooth relic. It is assumed that the upper floor was made out of wood.

The stairways of Atadageya were made out of granite stones. The total number of the pillars of Atadageya is 54. The word Atta means eight in numbers. Altogether eight relics kept for worship. That’s why it is called Atadageya. Some of the square pillars have four sides and each side is decorated with carved beautiful dance figures. The excellent architectural construction of the building is praiseworthy to mention here. It was well planned in such a way to avoid the devotees to stand directly over the sacred statues of the Lord which were kept at the ground floor.

The architects of the building constructions built the building carefully. That is how ancient Sri Lanka was so civilized in architectural thoughts and religious morality. The left side of the temple there is a stone slab named Velaikkara inscription. This Vellaikkara (Tamil and Sanskrit mixed version called Grantham) inscription reveals the mercenaries were engaged to protect the sacred tooth relics. It is stated that altogether the building of the Atadageya was constructed only within eight days.

The majority of the portions were brought down from Anuradhapura and installed. Locally carved figures show Indian influence. Beautifully carved pillars are still seen at the site. The pillars are decorated with Gods’ figures, human figures and several traditional mythical figures like Makara. The ancient temple of the tooth relic of Polonnaruwa is called as Atadageya. The decorative elements imply the excellent talents of ancient craftsmanship of the Polonnaruwa period.

Some pillars are decorated with auspicious symbols like Punkalasa, Makara symbols, traditional pots with palm and creeper decoration. Besides divine poses of humans were carved on the four different sides of the decorative pillars. The divine figures are depicted with different body postures. Most of the divine figures have a very close resemblance with the body position or postures of oriental dances. Most of the poses resemble the 108 Karana poses of Lord Siva.

These different body postures can be compared with the theory of classical dances. Dancing figures were used in an oriental classical art for decorative purposes. Eight pillars are well carved with beautiful figures. The carved beautiful figures are depicted with numerous poses. All the poses are closely linked to classical dance poses. Especially the foot position, body positions, neck positions and eye glance strongly adhered to dance positions.

This is a systematic analysis of the stone sculptures of the Polonnaruwa period in relation to various aspects of Indian dance aspects. Each and every aspect of the stone sculptures and stucco are deeply analyzed with Indian dance traditions and with the selective Indian art theory Natya Sastra. All these factors coordinate to the positions, head positions; neck poisons body positions, foot positions and different hand gestures with Indian dance tradition. D

All these carved sculptures are depicted with different foot positions, different head positions and eye movements of dance and with different Mandala Isthana positions. Majority of the carved dance figures are depicted with half Arimandi Isthana position with different foot position including.

The hand gestures are not at all seen clearly. But to a certain extent head position and focusing eye positions are noticeable and sculptural hands. 

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