Sinhalese Monastic Architecture: The Viharas of Anuradhapura
Author: Senake Bandaranayake
Anuradhapura was the major centre of Sinhalese Buddhism and the principal city of Sri Lanka from the 3rd century BC to 10th century AD. The focus of this study is the remains of the Buddhist monasteries in and around the city, devising a framework to study Sinhalese monastic architecture and attempting to interpret the Sinhalese tradition. Major forms and concepts are placed in their historical and architectural contexts. This is the most comprehensive and systematic treatment of the monasteries of Anuradhapuras. It brings together and re-examines material uncovered by over one hundred years of archaeological exploration and research in Sri Lanka. The Introduction reviews the historical and archaeological significance of Anuradhapura, the concept of a Sinhalese tradition and considers constructional methods. Section One of the book deals with the monastic plan and examines the four major types of monastery or sub-monastery. Section Two explores the form and development of the main building types in the monasteries. Section Three discusses architectural form in general. The essentially mixed brick-and-timber architecture of Anuradhapura is a classic expression of the Sinhalese tradition with its roots in the organic building conventions of the country. It represents a particular and distinctive characterisation of the architecture of Monsoon Asia to be viewed within the broad perspective of the unity and differentiation of cultures in the region.