Wednesday 19 August 2020

Sigiriya Rock Paintings (Sri Lanka, 1973)

Sometimes you search for stamp elements and they’re quite prosaic: here’s a functional building or a mid-ranking 19th century composer. Other times, you get your mind blown. This is one of those.

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the heart of Sri Lanka. It looks like someone reached down and placed a giant rock in the centre of the landscape. And when I say rock, it’s about 200 metres or 600 feet tall. (For a less literary reference, think of the plate of mashed potato in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.) According to legend, the site was selected by King Rashpaya in the late 5th century CE for his new capital. He built his palace on the top; it has that Machu Picchu urban planning vibe but 1000 years olders. He then decorated it with beautiful frescoes (wall paintings). The whole hill is described as a giant picture gallery with paintings covering an area of rock 140 metres long and 40 metres high.

Honestly, I’ll stop writing now so you can go and look at this. The Wiki link will give you history and the UNESCO link will take you to a galley of the art. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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