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Great Buddhist temple, Kandy, Ceylon.

Great Buddhist temple, Kandy, Ceylon.

Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1852

Shelfmark: Photo 249/(4)

Item number: 2494

Genre: Photograph

Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, with a view of the complex of the Temple of the Tooth Relic at Kandy in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The Dalada Maligawa or Palace of the Tooth is the most venerated shrine on the island and is reputed to contain the Tooth of Buddha, held within an inner sanctuary. Legend states that the tooth was snatched from the flames of the Buddha's funeral pyre in the 6th century BC. It was then smuggled into Sri Lanka for safe-keeping in the 4th century AD, hidden in the hair of a princess. As the most important Buddhist relic on the island, it was moved to various capitals by successive kings until finally enshrined in Kandy by King Vimaladharmasuriya in the 16th century. Little remains of the original shrine and the present structure mostly dates from the late 17th century. The view shows the octagonal building on the moat called the Pattirippuwa, which was built as a resthouse by the last king of Kandy, Vickrama Rajasinha (ruled 1798-1815). It now houses a library of palm-leaf manuscripts. Fiebig, of German origin, was active in Calcutta as an artist and lithographer in the 1840s. Little is known about his life, but turning to photography in the late 1840s he produced hundreds of photographs by the calotype process, frequently handcolouring them. His photographs of Ceylon, probably taken in 1852, are considered the earliest surviving photographic record of the island.

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