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Temple of Buddha's Tooth, Kandy (Ceylon). 18 April 1870

Temple of Buddha's Tooth, Kandy (Ceylon). 18 April 1870

Artist: Chevalier, Nicholas (1828-1902)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1870

Shelfmark: WD1088

Item number: 1088

Length: 24.8

Width: 35.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil drawing of the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka, dated 18th April 1870. The image is inscribed on the front in pencil: 'The Temple of the Tooth. 18.4.70. N. Chevalier.'

The Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa) is the most venerated shrine on the island as it contains an important Buddhist relic held within an inner sanctuary, a tooth from Buddha himself. It is believed that the tooth was snatched from the flames of the Buddha's funeral pyre in the 6th century BC and smuggled into Sri Lanka for safe-keeping in the 4th century AD, hidden in the hair of a princess. As one of the most important Buddhist relics, it was moved to various capitals by successive kings until it was finally enshrined in Kandy in the 16th century. Little remains of the original shrine and the present structure mostly dates from the late 17th century. The relic is carried in procession in a casket on the back of an elephant during the famous Festival of the August Moon (Esala Perahara), accompanied by traditional dancers and chieftains wearing the regalia and dress of the ancient Kandyan Kings.

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