OSense O-Sense

Beginning with images from Buddhist temples of Sri Lanka, this book takes the reader through a visual journey from the times of the last kings of Kandy to the early years of independence. The images of murals, statues, architecture, interior design and calligraphy are placed in the context of social and political changes taking place in a small island that was totally dominated by colonial powers in the 19th century, later to be liberated from Western influence in 1948.

This study of Buddhist Image Houses is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Senake Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka's greatest art historian and archaeologist in recent times.

Combining print and electronic mediafor 21st Century Research

Beginning with images from Buddhist temples of Sri Lanka, this book takes the reader through a visual journey from the times of the last kings of Kandy to the early years of independence.

The images have been arranged thematically to introduce the picture programs in the Thēravāda tradition targeting both the devotee and the modern visitor to Sri Lanka. Thereby guiding the reader into the word of Buddhist ritual practice, cosmology, mythology and history of about 200 years.

The images of murals, statues, architecture, interior design and calligraphy are placed in the context of social and political changes taking place in a small island that was totally dominated by colonial powers in the 19th century and latter to be liberated from Western influence in 1948.

Some of these aspects highlighted in this volume Buddhist Image Houses is analyzed and interpreted in academic essays in the next volume Evolving Traditions of Buddhist Image Houses.The more curious reader is then invited to the website Samkathana to browse over images grouped under the name of each temple features in both volumes. The website also provides addresses and contact details and instructions to actually visit each Rajamahā Vihāraya and Purāna Vihāraya, by providing maps.

The Samkathana Research Center at the University of Kelaniya is also prepared to facilitate further research though the large archive that was made possible with part of the funding granted by the project Higher Education for the Twenty First Century (HETC) to the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Kelaniya.

Further Texts:

From Jacket Illustration:An enigmatic figure at the entrance to the Image House at the Ōvitigala Srī Sunandāramaya close to Horana. Possibly of the late 19th century.

“As a little boy, when I was ordained here, I was told that this stern gentleman writes all the bad things I do” - One of the chief monks informed us.

The figure could not possibly be a protective figure like the Cobra-hooded  Nāgarājas guarding the entrance. Judging by the screwed up moustache, tight fitting breeches and coat also the black pointed shoes, he is dressed as a rich entrepreneur very much integrated in the colonial administration. The embroidery on the coat and the fancy crown may demonstrate that he is made to look like some exotic prince. The white halo elevates his position among other figures in the vestibule.

The brown leather bound book he holds poses the biggest problem. It seems to be a kind of diary, because the Roman script indicates that it is a Denapota, a diary. The correct pronunciation in Sinhala that would be Dinapotha is written using the Dēvanagarī script. The spine too written in Dēvanagarī too. It can be read as “me potha” translated from Sinhala to English as “this book” bearing the date 1827.

How Sri Lankan culture oscillates between the Western and Indian concepts is a key theme of this book.

The Vessantara Jātakaya from the Ranvella Navamunisä Vihāraya, Giniwella close to Galle. Most likely from the mid 18th century showing the style of narrating the most popular Jātakaya of Sri Lanka. Judging by the background colours and style of narrating shows the influence of the Up Country Kandyan Tradition, here in the South. The costumes, modes to transport, use of furniture and even the kitchen betray the transition to a more westernized life style in the Southern and Western Maritime Region.

A creation of the muralto a continuous narrative by Dr. Rolf Heinrich Koch.


Asoka de Zoysa and Vajira Nalinda Jayathilaka.


Asoka de Zoysa (MA PhD, Freie Universität Berlin)

Asoka de Zoysa had his training at the Institut für indische Philologie and Kunstgeschichte, Berlin to read Sanskrit, Pali and hybrid-Hindi texts and interpret the art of India and the Himalayan region. His doctoral thesis Blutrünstige Braminen am heiligen Strome (1997) published in Frankfurt, analyses how India was represented in the 18th and 19th century popular genres of opera and theater of Germany, France and England. After his MA in Indology and Germanisitik he was a member of the Educational Service at Museum für Indische Kunst in Berlin, arranging guided tours and lectures in the Museum of Indian Art. Since 1997 he is a member of the faculty at the Department of Modern Languages and now professor in charge of German Studies. He is interested in gender aspects in contemporary art, theater, fashion, advertising, cinema and literature and has translated German plays to Sinhala and English, some which he directed himself. His current research interests are centered around the Buddhist Temple. He writes regular reviews to newspapers on the performances and exhibitions. He is also visiting lecturer at the University of Visual and Performing Arts and consultant at the Academy of Design Colombo.

Vajira Nalinda Jayatillaka

Vajira Nalinda Jayathilaka is an artist, graphic designer and art historian. After his post graduate studies at the University of Kelaniya, he was member of the inaugural teaching faculty of the Visual and Performing Arts Unit at Kelaniya. Since 2010, he is lecturer of the Department of History & Art Theory, Faculty of Visual Arts, in the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Sri Lanka delivering course units in Sri Lankan folk art and modern and contemporary art. Since some years he has been engaged in copying and photographing Buddhist murals and decorative designs. His research interests contextualizes the heritage of Sri Lankan art in Cultural Studies and Post-Modern Theories.

Vajira has completed his first degree in Fine Arts with First Class Honors in University of Kelaniya. He received a PhD scholarship from the World Bank funded HETC Project at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Kelania to complete his PhD on Discourse Communities related to the Buddhist temples.

Evolving Traditions of the Buddhist Image House (විහාරගෙය)
Understanding two centuries of art and architecture in Sri Lanka- Part I


Asoka de Zoysa (University of Kelaniya)
Vajira Jayathilaka (University of Visual and Performing Arts)
Ganga RajineeDissanayaka (Samkathana Research Centre, University of Kelaniya)

The conceptual significance of hybridity of Sri Lankan culture has often been overlooked. The tradition nurtured in the Upcountry Kandyan region in the 18th century has been often seen as pure and unspoilt. Kandyan art, architecture, costume, dance, rituals, artifacts and decorative designs have,since the declaration of Independence in 1948,been regarded as the only possible representation of Sri Lankan tradition. Questioning these prevalentnotions,this volume demonstrates the mirroring of Indian visual expression in the Upcountry Tradition and analyses the reflections this tradition has cast on the Southern Tradition, which in the 20th century seem to have evolved to a further hybrid tradition, based on the aesthetics of Asian and European origin.

This volume of essays annotated with photographs and drawings focuses on how the life styles, power structures, religious beliefs and rituals are reflected in and around the Buddhist Image House, introduced in the first volume of the series. Attention has been paid to disseminate the information gathered on many field trips on the ecclesial traditions of the Siyam Nikāya, the chapters of Buddhist monks in the Upcountry and the chapters of the Amarapura Nikāya in the Low country. The Samkathana Research Team presents this volume of essays with the aim of demonstrating the close connection between the existing visual communication of the Buddhist Image House and influences and connections between art and its sponsors and mentors and artisan communities.


බෞද්ධ ප‍්‍රතිමා ගෘහ නිර්මාණ සම්ප‍්‍රදායේ සුවිශේෂී කලාවන් සමඟ ගොඩනැගුණු ‘ප‍්‍රතිමා ගෘහ විශේෂයක්’ පිළිබඳව සංකථන පර්යේෂණ කේන්ද්‍රය දියත් කරනු ලැබූ ඉහල ප‍්‍රමිතිගත පර්යේෂණයේ එක් ප‍්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස මෙම ග‍්‍රන්ථය පාඨක ඔබ අතට පත් වේ.
වර්ෂ 1753 දී සියම් උපසම්පදා මහෝත්සවයට සමගාමීව ලංකාව තුල ඇති වූ බෞද්ධ පුනර්ජීවනයත්, ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවේ අවසන් සංඝරාජයාණන් වහන්සේ වූ වැලිවිට සරණංකර සංඝරාජයාණන් වහන්සේ ගේ මූලිකත්වයෙන් ප‍්‍රතිව්‍යුහගත වූ පුද පූජාත්, සිංහල - පාලි - සකු ලේඛන කලාවත්, බෞද්ධ භික්ෂු අධ්‍යාපනයත් යන සියල්ලන්ගෙන් සුසැඳි සමාජ පරිසරය මෙම වාස්තු විද්‍යාත්මක ගොඩනැගිලි ජාලය බිහිවීමට පසුබිම සකසනු ලබන්නේය.
පොකුරු වශයෙන් පිහිටා තිබෙන වර්තමාන ටැම්පිට විහාර ජාලය සංඛාවෙන් 177 අභිබවා ස්ථාපිතව ඇති අතර ඒ සියල්ල මෙහි ලේඛන ගතකර ඇත. තෝරාගත් ටැම්පිට විහාර 100 ක පෙනුමත්, බිම් සැලැස්මත් මෙහි අන්තර්ගතය තුල සන්නිදර්ශන ලෙස ඉදිරිපත් කර තිබේ. පොකුරු වශයෙන් පිහිටීම, ප‍්‍රාදේශීය විශේෂතා, ශිෂ්‍යානුශිෂ්‍ය පරම්පරාවේ විශේෂතා යන සියල්ල ටැම්පිට විහාරයේ ආකෘතියට හා ව්‍යුහාත්මක ස්වභාවය ගොඩනැගීමට හේතු ලෙස බලපා තිබීමත්, වර්තමාන තත්වයත්, මේ තුල
සාකච්ඡා කරනු ඇත.
බහුශික්ෂණ අධ්‍යාපනික ප‍්‍රවේශයන් අනුගමනය කරනු ලැබූ මෙම පර්යේෂණය ලෝක බැංකු ආධාර මත කැළණිය විශ්ව විද්‍යාලයේ HETC ව්‍යාපෘති අරමුදල් මගින් දියත් කරනු ලැබීය.

17 වන සියවසේ මැද භාගයේ සිට 19 වන සියවස මුල් භාගය දක්වා ලාංකේය විහාරාංග සම්ප‍්‍රදාය තුල සිදුවූ පුනර්ජීවනයට සාක්ෂි සපයන මෙම ටැම්පිට විහාර ජාලය හරහා පුළුල් සමාජ කියවීමකට මග විවරණය කරනු ලබයි.
ශ‍්‍රී ලාංකේය බෞද්ධ ගෘහ නිර්මාණ කලාවේ සුවිශේෂීය ගොඩනැගිලි සම්ප‍්‍රදාය ටැම්පිට විහාර ලෙස අවිවාදාත්මකව හදුන්වාදිය හැකිය.
බෞද්ධ විහාරාංග කලාවේ ‘පිළිමගෙය’ උදෙසා නිර්මාණය වූ මේ සුවිශේෂ නිර්මාණය 17 වන සියවසේ අග භාගයේ සිට 19 වන සියවසේ දෙවන භාගය දක්වා නිර්මාණය වී තිබේ.

සියම් උපසම්පදාව සමඟ ඇරඹෙන බෞද්ධ පුනර්ජීවනය ඉතිහාසයේ වටිනාම සාක්ෂිය ලෙස ලාංකේය ගොඩනැගිලි කලාව තුල ශේෂ වූ ටැම්පිට විහාර ඒ වටා ගොඩනැගුණු ශාසනික, අධ්‍යාපනික, ආගමික, සමාජීය වටිනාකම් රැුසක් ශ‍්‍රීලාංකේය ජන සමාජයේ හර පද්ධති තුලට එක් කරනු ලැබීය.
භෞතික ගොඩනැගිල්ලකින් එහා ගිය මනෝ මූලික වටිනාකම් සහිතව උඩරට කලා ඉතිහාසය නිවැරදි ලෙස කියවීමේ මාධ්‍යය ලෙස ටැම්පිට විහාර ජාලය අද දක්වා ශේෂව සිටියි.
දැව කරුවෝ ද, ගල් වඩුවෝ ද, සිතුවම්කරුවෝ ද ඇතුළු සකල කලා කරුවෝ සිය දෑතේ දායකත්වය මේ උදෙසා ලබා දෙමින් රමණීය කලාගාරයක් ලෙස ඉදිවුන ටැම්පිට විහාරය උඩරට කලාවේ නිහඬ සාක්ෂිය විය.

අපේ උරුමකම - 01 කොටස (2016.01.09)

අපේ උරුමකම - 02 කොටස (2016.01.19)

අපේ උරුමකම - 03 කොටස (2016.01.19)

This book complies research conducted by a team collecting data on discourse communities focused on conceptualizing a large network of a particular type of Buddhist Image House built on an elevated structure. This type of architecture seems to have evolved during the Buddhist Revival Movement spearheaded by Ven. Velitita Saranamkara meeting the demands of the Buddhist monks who were engaged in reviving the ordination of monks and restructuring rituals and preaching practices, standardizing writing of the Sinhala script and editing of Pali texts and thereby enhancing the education of monks who were conferred higher ordination in the lineage that was introduced by Ven.Upali from Siyam (Thailand). All TPV which have survived have been documented here amounting to 174 located in clusters. Profiles of 100 structures are presented here which demonstrate distinct regional variations in form and concept. This book opens new paths of research locating the network of TPV in the 18th to 19th century in the historical background, tracing the lineages of master-pupil traditions, their function as a ritual space and utility today.

The multi-disciplinary approach followed in this research is an outcome of the World Bank funded HETC Research Project of the University of Kelaniya, which has the mandate to document Discourse Communities that have been marginalized in mainstream research. This publication is linked with documentary films on the TPV and the Samkathana online archive ( which provides further details of each TPV discussed here.