The Great Temple of Buddha [Kandy, Ceylon]
Photographer: Lawton, Joseph
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken in the 1880s by Joseph Lawton of the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, in Kandy, Sri Lanka. This 17th century temple is one of the most sacred places of Buddhist worship in the world and houses a shrine containing a tooth relic of the Buddha. The tooth relic was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD from South India and as a most sacred object was moved from capital to capital by successive kings until finally enshrined in Kandy by Vimaladharmasuriya (ruled 1592-1604). The shrine complex, situated at the rear of a large central courtyard in the temple, is accessed via a tunnel leading from a draw-bridge over a moat. The sacred relic is carried in a casket on the back of an elephant during the procession of the Festival of the August Moon, accompanied by traditional dancers and chieftains wearing the dress and regalia of the Kandyan Kings.