Ruins, Polonnaruwa (Ceylon). 12 February 1868 259
Artist: Leighton, Stanley (1837-1901)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of the ruins of the Rankot Dagaba at Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), dated 12th February 1868. This image is inscribed on the mount in pencil: 'Ruins at Toparè. 'Rankat Dagoba', 12 Feb, 1868'; and on the front: 'Ruins at Topare (Pollanarua) Wed. 12 Feb. 1868. S.L., A.D. 700 about. Tower red brick carved with plaster which looks like stone. Plastered red brick - ornament below plaster.'
Polonnaruwa became an important Sinhalese kingdom in the 11th century when King Vijayabahu I drove the Cholas from India off the island. By the 13th century the island was again overrun by Indian invasions and the city was abandoned leaving an area full of ruined buildings, Buddha statues, parks and a 2400 hectare tank, the 'Sea of Parakrama.' The Rankot Dagaba, sometimes known as the Ruwanweli, was built by Nissanka Malla in the Anuradhapura style and stands 180 feet high. S.M. Burrows described the building in The Buried Cities of Ceylon (1885): "...the path runs through the jungle for about half-a-mile, and then emerges on the Rankot (golden spire) dagoba...Eight small shrines surround the base, with conical roofs, and a plain interior; and between each pair is a larger structure which perhaps supported an image or relic. The spire of the dagoba is very perfect; and the statues which surround the drum are plainly visible with field glasses. On the south-east side there are the remains of a brick figure of Buddha, about 8ft. 6.in high, and of the arched roof under which it stood; and to the north there is an old well. About 300 yards to the east there is a moulded and inscribed monolith, 3ft. 4in. square by 2ft. 9in. high."