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Volume: III, Issue: II, July-December 2012



Writing at the turn of the 19th centuryAnanda Kentish Coomaraswamy's prolific studies on society, culture, and art of Sri Lanka has provided a tangible source of 18th century art, architecture, and crafts recorded in the Kandyan district. His tome Mediaeval Sinhalese Art,1908, published over a century ago still is the foundation for the studies of art and art history is Sri Lanka. Coomaraswamy is emphatic when he writes that what he found practiced in Kandyan district still being a continuation of late historical period art (medieval), however fast disappearing. At the turn of the 20th century he pleads for the preservation of what remains of the rapidly disappearing national art. Coomaraswamy's references from the Mahavamsa of ivory furniture from ancient Sri Lanka is of immeasurable significance, as no traces of ivory remains from the early period. Extant examples of wooden furniture are still found in the Kandyan region, much of which was first documented in Mediaeval Sinhalese Art. This forms the basis of the author's research on the evolution of furniture in Sri Lanka.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was a prolific writer possessing a vast and diverse interest in society, culture and art. Writing at the turn of the 19th century he provided the reader with a concrete source documenting evidences of 18th century arts and crafts in the Kandyan district. His tome Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, published over a century ago still remains the foundation for the studies of art and art history is Sri Lanka. The 1908 publication in English was a limited edition of twenty-fives copies, accessible only within academia, and fifty years flew by until a second edition was published in 1959, and again in 1979 and 1992. It was during this time that a greater audience begins to appreciate the genius of this man, whom we have come to appreciate as, perhaps, the father of art history in Sri Lanka. Subsequent editions have been published in Sinhala. Recently the National Museum in Sri Lanka has issued a much-needed reprint in English, however, the writer is not aware of a Tamil edition published in Sri Lanka.

Coomaraswamy and his first wife Ethel, whom he refers to in his dedication as ‘his comrade in this undertaking’, lived and researched extensively for some years before returning to England to publish, under his supervision, at the Essex House press at the Norman Chapel at Broad Compton. The original edition took fifteen months and was printed by hand on the identical press used by William Morris for his Kelmscot Chaucer [Coomaraswamy 1908: ix]. Coomaraswamy was part of a group of Social Reformists along with William Morris of the English Arts and Crafts movement, and artists Edward Bourne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and others are referred to as the Pre-Raphaelites.1 They were all connected through their sentiments to support and value hand craftsmanship, and were ideologically opposed to the industrial revolution, and the rapidly changing ‘new’ world paradigms. The arts and crafts movement spread widely to cities in Europe and America, and the statements made by Coomaraswamy on the imminent loss of Sri Lankan traditional crafts fitted very well into his belief system.

Coomaraswamy emphatically records that what he found practised in the Kandyan district, to still being a continuation of late historical period art (Mediaeval). At the turn of the 20th century Coomaraswamy pleads for the preservation of what little remains of Sri Lankan art and architecture, and I believe his tome is researched and documented for the purpose of what he believed was a rapidly vanishing national art. His letter dated 15th April, 1905, titled, Open Letter to the Kandyan Chiefs, was written as a plea to preserve the ancient buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries in Ceylon.2This significant letter was written before the 1908 publication of Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, where he factually states and cites his arguments to support that Sri Lanka truly has developed its own style of art, based on a rich interaction with India. Other instrumental factors are the early land and sea trade economies that connected the Mediterranean to China via South Asia. During the Anuradhapura period Sri Lanka was indeed an emporium. The north-western port at Mantota (Mantai)3 was established as a mid shipment point for the sea trade during the 1st century AD. This was comparable to Begram, Afganistan, in the 1st century AD4[Begram Treasure displays at the National Museum, Kabul, and MuseeGuimet, Paris] that was an emporium for the silk route trade during the same historical time frame.

This paper examines Coomaraswamy’s references to ivory and wooden furniture. Mediaeval Sinhalese Art was written on the premise that in the late nineteenth century the practise of art in the Kandyan district was found to be a continuation of late historical period (Mediaeval) art. Coomaraswamy observes, “Most specimens here figured or described date from the later part of the eighteenth century. Mediaeval conditions survived in full force until the British occupation of Kandy in 1815, and what is actually described in this book is the work of the Sinhalese craftsmen under mediaeval conditions, mainly as these survived in the eighteenth century, and in a lesser degree, even to the present day” [Coomaraswamy 1908: v].

This paper reviews parts of the book that are relevant to furniture, and overviews contemporary sources published during last two decades. Mediaeval Sinhalese Art begins with a historical account of the Sinhalese People that includes the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabarata; the introduction of Buddhism; the ancient and middle historic periods; the ancient capitals; the South Indian invasions; the Portuguese period; and the division into low country and up country during the British period [Coomaraswamy 1908: 1]. He raises the question of what might have been, and states how religious and social disintegration impacted education and weakened the arts.

The earliest reference to ivory furniture is dated to 2nd century BC, during the reign of DuttaGamini (161-137 BCE). Coomraswamy cites the Mahavamsa account on ivory furniture found in the gilded pillared hall of the Brazen Palace in Anuradhapura, “in the middle of this hall…there was a marvellously beautiful ivory throne…on one side there was the emblem of the sun in gold, on another, the moon in silver, and the stars in pearls. On this most exquisite throne, covered with a cloth of inestimable value, was placed an extremely beautiful ivory fan. On the footstool there were a pair of slippers ornamented with beads, and above the throne glittered the white canopy or parasol of dominion, mounted on a silver handle...The king had it suitably furnished with carpets of woollen fabric; even the bowl and the dipper were made of gold. Who shall describe the other articles used in that palace?...The building was covered with brazen tiles; hence it got the name of ‘Brazen palace”.5

Another reference to ivory furniture relates to 332 CE King Jettatissall who succeeded Sri Magavanna.6Jettatissa, was a carver, artist and teacher of the arts [Coomaraswamy 1908: 7], and created various ivory objects:

“… was a skilful carver. This monarch, having carried out several arduous undertakings in painting and carving, himself taught the art to many of his subjects. He sculpted a beautiful image of the Bodhisatta, so perfect that it seemed as if it had been executed by supernatural power; and also a throne, a parasol, and a stateroom with some beautiful works in ivory made for it; and having administered the government of Lanka for nine years, he fulfilled the destiny due to him.”7

This reference to ivory furniture and decorative art objects, also notes the presence of royal guilds. These indications place ivory as a signifier of high status, and considered a superior material for royal furniture. Although, traces of ivory furniture have not survived in Sri Lanka due to environmental factors, ivory furniture has survived from ancient Egypt belonging to king Tutankhamen’s treasures. These references support royal patronage, as well as ivory’s durability as a material. Additionally, the Begram treasures found in the late 1930s in sealed underground chambers, reveal several ivory panels that were possibly mounted on wooden furniture dating to the 1st century CE or earlier. These ivory panels are carved in ‘Indian style’, and while the ivory remains, the wooden structures have not survived.8Evidence of widespread use of ivory is found in the ancient world, and these examples exist due to specific climatic conditions.9The writer believes that ivory was used widely in ancient South Asia as well, but has perished without a trace.

An additional reference indicating ivory decoration is contained in Coomaraswamy’s chapter X [1908] on Ivory, which notes that during the reign of Parakramabahu (1164-1197 CE), the chronicle Mahavamsa records that ivory structural elements were used in a park built by Parakramabahu.10It refers to “…which was railed with decorated rows of images made of ivory” and an ‘island park’ pavilion named Samimandapa ‘wrought with ivory” [Coomaraswamy 1908: 184].

Coomaraswamy establishes the foundation for studies in the decorative arts, and subsequently his chapters refer to specific subjects, such as the guilds and craftspeople, traditional design elements and ornament, architecture, woodwork, stonework, sculpture and painting, and includes other categories of the decorative arts such as ivory, bone, horn and shell, metalwork, lac-work, and earthenware. For art historians, Mediaeval Sinhalese Art remains a solid base, and although one might say his book is dated, written over a century ago, the reference materials are still most pertinent to contemporary researchers. His references, drawings, and plates on the different categories substantiate the connection between material culture and usage of objects during the middle historical period. Moreover, a continuous progression from the art of ancient period is strongly suggested. The scholarship on the decorative arts remains contemporary, and Coomaraswamy’s work provided the foundation for these and future studies. Without this publication the task of initiating these studies would be formidable and daunting. He presents an analytical platform that establishes the groundwork for studies on textile, embroidery, jewellery, metalwork, woodwork, ivory, bone and horn.

Greatly valid to the decorative arts is Coomaraswamy’s third chapter that provides a detailed account on the talented people who created everything. Without this account, little would be known of the people who formed the artisan-craftsmen-guilds and how they functioned within the society. They were favoured by the kings and given state lands to hold, and both politics and power played a significant role in their lives, often placing them at odds between the nobility and royalty. As an example Coomaraswamy has narrated a story about Devendra Mulcariya who built the audience hall in Kandy, as well as, the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) library and a maduwa (structure) in Midenniya.11The story goes that Mulcariya had deliberately shortened the timber that was provided for his use by the chiefs, and then rejected these as being too short. The chiefs complained to the king (last king of Kandyan Kingdom Sri Vickrema Rajasimha (CE 1798-1815) and the king ordered the man’s fingers to be cut off, and to avoid disgrace this man downed himself in the Kandy Lake [Coomaraswamy 1908: 59].

The term ‘Indigenous Craftsmen’ in Sri Lanka is elaborately explained by Coomaraswamy as follows: “ The indigenous craftsmen…represented both the original Sinhalese stock, and the later immigrant craftsmen incorporated from time to time into their community. It would be hard to say how far an original Sinhalese element is represented in the body of superior craftsmen; for we do not know much of the state of the arts in very early times, and we have the record of the introduction of Indian craftsmen with Buddhist missionaries from the north…and again at the time of Gajabahu’s invasion of Southern India [Coomaraswamy 1908: 62]. Coomaraswamy notes that in 113 CE Gajabahu12invaded southern India bringing back 1200 Tamil captives, some of who were craftspeople, and settled them around his kingdom.

Chapter X, on ivory, bone, horn and shell is significant and relates to the chapter on woodwork. It describes the techniques used by the ivory carvers and turners. It is said that ivory carver often practised their carving techniques on coconut shell, which is extremely hard and similar to that of ivory. Coomaraswamy writes quite passionately about the art of Sri Lankan art, “ It will be seen how intimately connected was the art of southern India and Ceylon; but while thus recognizing the influence of the Tamil craftsmen, it is necessary to remember also the continuity and vitality of the indigenous tradition, and to give the Sinhalese people the full credit for the fact that their art, taken as a whole, is perfectly distinct in style and feeling from that of Southern India, and preserves clearer and more numerous traces of the early Indian, and especially of the Early Buddhist style, than can easily be found in India itself” [Coomaraswamy 1908: 62].

A short survey on the chapter on Woodwork13is invaluable informing us about the use of tropical timber as a predominant building material. Timber was widely used as a primary material, and carved for use in the buildings, household utensils, furnitures, and it is pertinent to note that the examples of Kandyan period wooden furniture have survived. By studying the wooden architectural styles and forms in the Kandyan district a certain sense of aesthetics is observed. Coomaraswamy describes the aesthetic forms as flawlessly graceful movements flowing into the structural elements of the beams, joints and pillars, and he writes, “…the carved doors and windows are at once decorative and constructional; and every detail is of artistic and historical interest. The constant richness of carving, and its close relation to the nature of the material are always pleasing...it appears almost always as if it were an essential and necessary part of the constructional work” [Coomaraswamy 1908: 129].

The prevailing dynamics influencing the artists and designers at the time of the middle historical period (Mediaeval period) has progressed uninterruptedly into the Kandyan period. These stylistic traditions were practised by generations of artificer guilds and craftspeople, whose artistic communities produced the splendid art and architecture for the Kandyan royal court. Readers need keep in mind that Coomaraswamy’s research was done in the very early 20th century. The South Indian Nayyaker Buddhist Kandyan Kingdom had fallen in 1815 to the British, and the resulting hybrid style of art and architecture encountered was the outcome of many influences.

Importance of Coomaraswamy’s detailed recording of techniques and tools14

Coomaraswamy has also given a detailed list of tools and techniques which has great relevance in the understanding of Sri Lankan mediaeval arts and crafts in general and furniture in particular. He has mentioned the following techniques:

Lathe turning and Lacquer work

We know from Coomaraswamy [1908: 141] that lathe turning and lacquer works were present in the 19th century, and one can surmise it existed in the earlier centuries. The art of turning is indigenous, although the origin of the method is questioned [Coomaraswamy 1908: 141]. Examples of turned wooden have survived in the feet and legs [Coomaraswamy 1908: Pl. lX, 6] of benches, seats and beds, and are also evidenced in window bars [Coomaraswamy 1908: pl. lX], balcony railings [Coomaraswamy 1908: Pl. Vlll], and vehicles [Coomaraswamy 1908: fig 20]. Turned railings are usually lacquered in rings of red, yellow, black and green. Handles of various objects are often turned and lacquered.

Illustration of a traditional ivory turner’s lathe is given by Coomaraswamy [Coomaraswamy 1908: Pl. Vl., 4].15It consists of a large concentrically grooved spindle (liyanakanda) set between posts sunk in the ground. The projecting end is fastened with the object to be turned and the spindle is turned by hand. A form of this type of lathe is used by gem cutters, but turned by a bow [Coomaraswamy 1908: 142, fig.93] enabling one man to simultaneously grind and turn. Wheel - turned lathes are recorded as used by carpenters in the late 19th century, but, Coomaraswamy informs us that he has seen the former type with the grooved spindle. This leads to his conclusion that the grooved spindle type is the original form that was in use [Coomaraswamy 1908: 142].


The furniture seen and examined at the selected sites have used tongue and grove and dovetail joinery. A few examples have been joined by the use of iron bolts. Examples of good eighteenth century woodwork and joinery can be seen at the Malwatte, Asgiriya pansala and the National Museum in Kandy [Coomaraswamy 1908: 133-134]. Domestic and ecclesiastic furnitures were structured in the style of the roof and door joinery of the period, and were fitted and pegged together. Tenons were used in door and frame structures, and could be seen in furniture joinery as well. Wooden pins and bolts have been used, as well as mortise and tenoned joints [Coomaraswamy 1908: 133].


A form of flat low relief carving was done on many surfaces, architectural, doors and furniture. A few examples of this remain and fine low relief was found on a few examples of selected furniture for this paper. Coomaraswamy writes in 1908 that “The designs are for the most part those common to the whole of Sinhalese decoration, but treated in a manner suited to the material. The treatment is always flat, no attempt at relief or undercutting being made. This admirable restraint is now a thing of the past, for the influence of Kandyan woodwork carving is hardly perceptible in modern buildings or furniture” [Coomaraswamy 1908: 140].

Tools used for woodcarving and joinery

Few chisels were used in carving, in comparison to the wide range of chisels and gauges, quite unknown in Sri Lanka, used in the workshop of the European carver [Coomaraswamy 1908: 141]. A list compiled at the turn of the 19th century is quoted here, to show the variety of tools that were used [Coomaraswamy 1908: 141,142]. Many of these tools still remain in use, as timber continues to be the material of roof structures, however, the detailed characteristic of craftsmanship for fine cabinetmaking has deteriorated over the past one hundred years. Furthermore, the carpenters use certain electric hand tools nowadays.

List of tools used by the Sinhala carver16

“Chisels (various sizes) − Loku-niyana; Niyan-katuwa; Kalambuniyan-katuwa

Cubit-rule – riyanlalle

Plumb-line – lamba-ketaya

Line or tape – nul-lanuwa

Compasses – kava-katuwa

Set-square – mattam-poruwa

Wedge – li-parana-katuwa

Sledgehammer – kulu-gediya

Axe – porawa

Small-adze – at-veya

Large adze – loku-veya

Mallet – at-koluwa

Hammer – mitiya

Tenon saw – tahadu – kiyata

Hand saw – at-kiyata

Timber saw – haraskapana-kiyata

Straight plane – yatu-ketaya

Curved plane – ravamyatu-ketaya

Stock drill – gal torapanaya

Hand drill – at-torapanya

Scoring tool – iri-gahana-katuwa

Awl – vidina-katuwa

Rasps – pullorama, peti, vata, and lokupullorama

File – pira

Foot rule, which measures a carpenter’s cubit – wadu-riyana in length, is divided into twenty-four angal or inches.”

Since Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, 1908, was published, research over the past one hundred years on Sri Lankan furniture is few and far between. The last decade has seen scholarly work by European academics such as Alem Mar historian Zoltan Biedermann, a polyglot speaking Portuguese who has studied the original Portuguese colonial empire archives in Lisbon. His contribution as a historian is valid and the three papers presented at workshop convened by the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies are important, although, all of them do not refer to furniture. He situates Sri Lanka historically at the time of the Portuguese that begins the period of European influences. Biedermann [2012] has also contributed significantly in the study of Sri Lankan ivory carving and related areas. Annemarie Jordan Gschwend, [2010] has explained Kotte period ivories including some caskets made for the Portuguese empire for the European market, throwing light on the acquisition of exotica from Portuguese territories for the Iberian monarchs. Additionally, Amin Jaffer and Melanie Anne Schawbe [1999] have also worked on ivory caskets of the Kotte period, one from Residenz Museum, Munich, in particular throwing light how furniture were influenced by the Portuguese. John C. Holt [1996], Sirima Kiribamune [1995], James S. Duncan [1990], N.K.O. Dharamadasa [1995], Lorna Dewaraja [1971] have worked on various aspects of Kandyan art and architecture and their works provide authentic information on Kandyan heritage.


Mediaeval Sinhalese Art written in 1908, is an irreplaceable encyclopaedic source, and remains a legacy to the people of Sri Lanka; furthermore, this book is a plea for the preservation of the island’s diminishing art and architecture. The details, references and drawings, along with the plates provide the investigators with a thoroughly documented book that summarizes the state of art of late eighteenth century in Sri Lanka. For the furniture historian the early reference to ivory is invaluable and opens this topic for further research. The chronicle Mahavamsa is quoted and three clear references are cited on the usage of ivory. These textual references provide the only possible evidence of ivory usage in ancient furniture from Sri Lanka. Coomaraswamy’s references to the extant wooden furniture objects from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, many of which still survive, are invaluable to art historians. The earliest wooden bed dates to the sixteenth century belonging to Raja Simha l (1581-93) still preserved along with the bed legs at the Kabulumulla Rajamaha Pattini Devaleya.17This is a traditional form of a pierced carved headrest used by royalty at the time of Portuguese maritime activity in Sri Lanka. These extant examples and references provide a prism into past history that can help reconstruct traditional furniture types that may have been used in ancient and early modern Sri Lanka.


1.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/praf/hd_praf.htm, (retrieved, 1.10.2012)].

2. An Open Letter to the Kandyan Chiefs, Coomaraswamy had 350 copies printed at the Industrial School, Kandy, on the 15thApril, 1905. Reprinted in AnandaCoomaraswamy Memorial Seminar, 9th September 2009, Center for Asian Studies, U. of Kelaniya.

3. Silva, Dr. Roland, “Mantai – the Great Emporium of CosmasIndicopleustus, National Trust of Sri Lanka, Monthly Lecture Series, 29th September, 2011.

4. Afghanistan, Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, Eds. 2008. Hiebert, Fredrik &Cambon, Pierre. Washington D. C.: National Geographic, and exhibits from Begram expedition at the MuseeGuimet, Paris.

5. Coomaraswamy cites the pre Geiger 1912 translation of the Mahavamsa, by Turnour and Wejesinha, Colombo 1889, no page number is given, Coomaraswamy, p 3-4.

6. KM de Silva, 2005 dates Kitsririmevan r. 301-28 AD, and Jetthatissall, r. 328-337 AD. 7. Coomaraswamy, p. 7, and Mahavamsa chapter xxxviii, Geiger,1938, Culavamsa chapter 38, p. 9: 100- 104.]

8. For further reading see, SanjyotMehendale, “Begram: at the Heart of the Silk Roads”, p. 131-144, “Begram Catalog,” p. 162-210, Afghanistan, Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, 2009, edited by Hiebert, Frederick and Pierre Cambon, Washington DC: National Geographic.

9. Desertification, and found within sealed underground chambers.

10. Coomaraswamy, p. 184. Coomaraswamy, who refers to the 1889 translation by Turnour and Wijesinghe, does not cite the Mv chapter. I have not as yet found in this reference in Gieger’s translation of Culavamsa, 1928.

11. Ref. Lawrie’sGazateer, 589 [Open Library.org - internet archive], accessed 5th September 2012.

12. KM de Silva, Gajabahuku-gamini, Gajabahu l, Gajaba r.114-36 AD.

13. Coomaraswamy, 1908, Chapter Six (Vl), Woodwork.

14. From the author’s unpublished MPhil paper: Kandyan Furniture, 2011, PGI, U. Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

15. Coomaraswamy, p 141.

16. Ibid, three examples are seen, Coomaraswamy, p. 142, Figures 91, 92, 93

17. http://www.kabulumulladevalaya.org, accessed 12 November, 2012.


Abdur-Rahman, A. 2011. Kandyan Furniture, part I, and 2, unpublished MPhil paper: PGI, U. Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

Hiebert, Fredrik & Cambon, Pierre (eds.). 2008. Afghanistan, Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, Washington D. C.: National Geographic.

Biedermann, Zoltan. 2012. “Sixteenth Century Ivory Caskets”, Workshop on Historical Interpretation, Colombo: AISLS.

-----------------------2009. “The Malvana Convention” Revisited. Some Notes on the Transition to Iberian Rule,” Workshop on Perspectives on Sri Lanka’s Historiography, Colombo, AISLS.

-----------------------2005. “From Outsiders to Insiders: new light on the early relations between Sri Lanka and the Portuguese,” Workshop on Portugal-Sri Lanka Interactions, Colombo: AISLS.

Coomarawamy, A. K. 1908, Mediaeval Sinhalese Art. Broad Compton, UK, 3rd ed. 1979. New York: Pantheon Books.

Coomaraswamy, A. K. 1906. Open Letter to the Kandyan Chiefs, 15th April, 1905. Reprinted in Ananda Coomaraswamy Memorial Seminar, 9th September, 2009, Center for Asian Studies, University of Kelaniya.

De Silva, K. M. 2005. A History of Sri Lanka, Colombo: Vijita Yapa Publications.

Dewaraja, Lorna. 1971. The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka, 1707 -1782, second revised edition 1988, Sri Lanka: Deepanee Printers.

Dharamadasa, N.K.O. 1995. “Literature in Sri Lanka: The Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” History of Sri Lanka,. De Silva, (ed.) K.M. U. Peradeniya, Vol. 2, (c.1500-1800). University Peradeniya Press.

Duncan, James S. 1990. The City as Text: The politics of Landscape Interpretation in the Kandyan Kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holt, John C. 1996. The Religious World of Kirti Sri; Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jaffar, Amin and Melanie A.Schawbe. 1999. “A Group of 16t Century Ivory Caskets from Ceylon”, Apollo magazine.

Jones, Robin, 2007. Interiors of Empire, Objects, Space and Identity within the Indian Subcontinent c. 1800-1947. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Jordan Gschwend, Annemarie. 2010. The Story of Suleyman, Celebrity Elephant and other Exotica in Renaissance Portugal, Zurich, Switzerland.

------------------------------------2010. Elfenbeine aus Ceylon, Luxusgutter fur Katharina von Hapsburg (15-1578), Zurich: Museum Rietburg.

Kabulumulla devale. http://www.kabulumulladevalaya.org, accessed 12 November, 2012.

Kiribamune, Sirima. 1995. “Sri Lankan Art and Architecture during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries” (p.491-530), History of Sri Lanka, University Peradeniya, Vol. 2, Chapter XVlll.

Lawrie’s Gazateer. 589 [Open Library.org - internet archive], accessed 5th September, 2012.

Musee Guimet, Paris. Ivory panel exhibits from Begram expedition (ancient Kapisa).

Pre-Raphalites. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/praf/hd_praf.htm, accessed 12 September 2012

Silva, Rd. Roland. “Mantai – the Great Emporium of Cosmos Indicopleustus”, National Trust of Sri Lanka, Monthly Lecture Series, 29th September, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNUCjfdj0BA&noredirect=1, accessed, December, 2011.

List of Illustrations (After Mediaeval Sinhalese Art)

1. Figure 85, the pierced headboard panel in scrollwork with affronted lions.

2. Figure 86, Drawings from Jataka paintings at Degaldoruwavihare, painted in the eighteenth century - l. Table, ll. and V, stools (banku, nathkali), lll. Lotus throne (padmasana), lV. Chair

3. Plate lX. - Fig. 1. Ran-doli, ceremonial palanquin, VisnuDevale, Kandy, Fig. 5. Chair from Asgiriya viharepoyage, Fig. 7. Kundasaleviharepansala bed dated to Sri Narendrasimha, (1707-39 A.D.).

4. Plate X. - Fig. 1. Stand or dandasana, (meaning wooden seat), Fig. 2. Kolumbuwa, low stool made from a solid piece of wood, from Dodantelepansala, Fig. 6. A carved plank bed.

5. Plate Xl. - Fig. 3. A pierced and carved bed headboard with lion, serapendiya (mythical animal form), and liyavela (winding branch) decoration, Fig. 4. Three-legged stool (banku - a non-specific Sinhala term for bench).

6. Plate Xll. – Figs. 4, 5 are Kandyan types wooden bed legs shataraskakul (squared legs), conforming to architectural forms.


7. Plate Xll. - Fig. 6. Copy of a bed leg from Kundasalevihare, Fig. 7. Bed leg from the Kundasalevihare bed, (Examples of Kandyan types wooden bed legs shataraskakul (squared leg), conforming to architectural forms.