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Notes on the Geography of Sri Lanka: Embekke

Like Gadaladeniya and Lankatilaka, the Embekke temple or devale dates from the 14th century and shares a location along the axis of the Gadaladeniya Synform, a geologic basin.  But while Gadaladeniya is of stone and Lankatilaka of brick, Embekke is of an ironwood, specifically of the na tree, Mesua nagassarium, the national tree of Sri Lanka. 

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Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 1

The shrine at the rear is closed: few villagers have ever seen the image within it of Kataragama.  In the foreground is a ritual hall, or digge, very similar to the Royal Audience Hall or Magulmaduva adjoining the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and, for that matter, the new Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 2

The columns in the hall are intricately carved.  Like those of the Magulmaduva in Kandy, they're also replacements, in this case from 1948.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 3

Drooping lotus capitals.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 4

At the far end, 26 rafters are held in place by a single pin or madol kurupuwa.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 5

Many of the several hundred carvings are abstract compositions based on vegetation.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 6

Others are representational.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 7

Animals fighting.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 8

Man on horseback.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 9

Wrestlers.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 10

Female figure.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 11

Mythological creature.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 12

Woman growing from a vine.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 13

Fillage women bring food to the monks who come by weekly.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 14

The monks take a seat, and the oldest one delivers a brief sermon.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 15

No men are present, other than the monks.

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 16

Aligned with the temple, these stones reinforce an east-facing axis. 

Sri Lanka: Embekke picture 17

Off to the side is a bissa or rice barn.  Behind the wattle-and-daub walls, stone columns support the tiled roof.  There is only one door to each half of the structure, and it is very awkwardly but securely placed at the top of the gap between the two halves.


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