A craft is a creation made on any medium in a convex or semi convex pattern. There are many found from the Anuradhapura era. Among some of them are guard stone, balustrade (“Korawakgala”), moonstone, carvings of “Vahalkada” (the fronticepiece), carvings of flights of steps, and carvings of Isurumuniya.
The Moonstone (“Sandakada Pahan”)
It is a creation of semi-circular granite slab placed at the entrance of a religious building. The opinion of the scholars with regard to the moonstone is that the craftsmen have intended to convey a special massage of Buddhism by this creation. At the early stage it was only a simple semi circular granite slab. There after it has evolved in to most artistic creations of engraving. One of the most attractive moonstones consists with a decoration of tuskers, bulls, horses and a lions in a row one after the other. It also has a pattern of swans in a row one after the other and a design of a half of a lotus can be seen at the centre of the moonstone. The scholars are of the opinion that the birth, suffering, death, and the sickness are reflecting in the moonstone. The best carved moonstone found from Anuradhapura ear is the one placed at the entrance of the Bisso Palace (“Bisso Maligawa”).
The Guard Stone
At the inception the guard stone was only a simple granite slab. There after the pot of plenty, cobra hoods and dwarfs were added in decorations and in a latter period and the complete guard stone called king cobra guard stone was created. The guard stone with pot of plenty can be seen at the museum of Anuradhapura. Seven hooded guard stone has been used near the ponds. An example to this can be seen at the twin ponds (Kuttam Pokuna).
The guard stone completed with a human figure has been created thereafter and it is of the opinion that the human figure depicts the cobra king designed as a human image. The face of this figure reflects the serenity and young appearance. It is more attractive due to the jewellery of earrings and necklaces. The bottom part of the figure carved with a robe such as a “jothiya” and two dwarfs have been carved at the footsteps of the figure. The pot of plenty which is carved delicately, carrying the king cobra is filled with lotus flowers and leaves and a creeper is holding with the other hand. There can be seen a crown on the head of cobra king and above that there are carving of a seven hoods of cobra. The best carved guard stone can be seen at the Rathnaprasa entrance.
The balustrade on either sides of the flight of steps is known as “Korawakgala”. It is used by people as a support when climbing the steps of the stairway and it also accentuates the beauty of the stairway. Initially, it looked like a series of vertical flat slabs but gradually they carved each balustrade with a dragon’s head and creepers, which made it more artistic. Various carvings are found below that of the dragon’s head. The most common in the lion’s head carved below that of the dragon. Many balustrades have been found with carvings of elephants and fish. A very artistic balustrade can be seen at the flight of steps of the entrance of Rathnaprasadha in Anuradhapura.
Entrance of The Kantaka Stupa
After climbing of about 80 steps from the base of the Mihinthalaya rock, the Kantaka Stupa can be seen. There is a flight of steps leading from the base to a midway of a mountain. The base of the pagoda is constructed in to a set of rings, one on top of another and each made out of bricks while limestones have been used on the rings foundation to form the structure of the pagoda. The “wahalkada”(fronticepiece) means the engraved entrance of a stupa. There are four entrances and the remaining entrances are the ones only in the East and the South. The top of the entrance is made of bricks while the bottom was made of limestone. Valuable and creative carvings are seen at the entrance. Images of lions, tuskers, bulls, horses, snakes, dwarfs and of birds such as swans and peacocks and patterns of spray of flames, designs of palapethi, geometrical patterns, images of vases, various symbols and dragon heads can to be seen on the gate pillars.
There are two panels and stone pillars with creative patterns carved on either side of the entrance and an image of animal can be seen on each stone pillar. Furthermore, the bottom of the entrance consists of two boarders, of which one has images of swans carved into it while the other has a row of images of dwarfs. The dwarf figures have been created in several postures. Some of them are with musical instruments and others standing on their hands with downward heads.
There is a pillar in Eastern entrance engraving with a pot of plenty below and “Geewana Wruksha” (The tree of life) has been carved to show that it is emerging from the pot of plenty and rising up.
Ancient Carvings found on granite slabs of “wahalkada”
Carvings of Isurumuniya
The temple of Isurumuniya is situated in Anuradhapura, is considered as a place with fascinating carvings. There are several opinions about the temple and how its name originated. However the general acceptance is that it has been built by King Devanampiyatissa. There are four carvings draw special interest at this particular place. They are the lovers of Isurumuniya, elephant pond, the royal family and the man standing in front of the horse.
The stone carvings of Isurumuniya lovers is said to be belong to the 5th century of BC. It was found by the archaeologists during an excavation near the Ranmusu Uyana(park) This three and half feet tall carving deficits the characteristics of the ”Gupta Carving Style”. This carving has been engraved on a granite slab reflecting two young figures of male and female which the female figure is seated on the lap of the male depicting a passionate look. There are opinions to say that these two figures are depicting of Saliya Ashokamala and also there is another opinion that these figures reflects a worrier and his lover.
“Man and the horse head”
The sculpture of the man sitting in front of a horse head can still be seen on the front surface of the boulder above the Isurumuniya Pond. It is said to be that these carvings belong to the 7th century of A.D. Although the human figure is seated, there is no seat to be seen. The figure has a straight body and broad shoulders, which reflects his strength and his health. The top half of the body is naked while below the waist is covered with a cloth. A turban is seen on his head. In addition, he has long limbs and less jewellery. He wears heavy earrings. The scholars are of different point of views. Some of them are of the opinion that it represents a soldier, some say that it is the saint Kapila, while others believe that he is the God of Rain, known as God Parrjanya. One of their views was that the horse head represented fire.
“The Royal Family”
There is a male figure with a majestic look sated on half circle granite stage. He is wearing a “poona string” and conical shaped crown and with a pleasant appearance. The other four figures are smaller than the main figure. There is an opinion that this carving depicts the meeting of King Dutugemunu by Saliya and Ashoka Malla.
On a rock edge of the Isurumuniya Lake, there is a carving of a herd of elephants playing in the water. They are known as “Diyakelina Athun”. A carving of a tusker who is spraying water from his trunk can be seen. On one side of the rock there is a single elephant, while on the other side there are three elephants together. There is also a small elephant in the pond. The front features of the elephants have been made short. A similar craft is seen at the Ranmasu Park.