Ruanweli (Golden Dust) Dagoba, Anurajapura
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Ruanweli (Golden Dust) Dagoba at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s. Stupas, solid Buddhist structures which enshrine relics of the Buddha, precious jewels or images of the Buddha, are termed dagobas in Sri Lanka. The general form of a dagoba follows the characteristic shape of a stupa, that of a dome surmounted by a spire. The Ruanweli Dagoba was built by King Dutthagamini in the 2nd century BC. The dome is shown here covered with vegetation but has since been restored and is now clear and shines white in the sun. S.M. Burrows of the Ceylon Civil Service wrote in 1885, "Its present height is about 150 feet, with a diameter of 379 feet. It is now being restored by the pious contributions of pilgrims, and the zealous efforts of the Chief Priest...The dagoba was originally surrounded by two large paved courts or platforms, the inner one raised above the outer. Round the outer side of the boundary-wall there was originally a complete circle of elephants, made out of brickwork, and coated with chunam: each elephant being furnished, says the Mahawanso,[the Mahavamsa or Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, compiled in about the 6th century AD], with tusks of real ivory. Most of these figures have fallen away beyond recognition; but in some few, the shape of the animal is still plainly discernable."