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.
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.
The columns in the hall are intricately carved. Like those of the Magulmaduva in Kandy, they're also replacements, in this case from 1948.
Drooping lotus capitals.
At the far end, 26 rafters are held in place by a single pin or madol kurupuwa.
Many of the several hundred carvings are abstract compositions based on vegetation.
Others are representational.
Man on horseback.
Woman growing from a vine.
Fillage women bring food to the monks who come by weekly.
The monks take a seat, and the oldest one delivers a brief sermon.
No men are present, other than the monks.
Aligned with the temple, these stones reinforce an east-facing axis.
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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