The Buddha and the Sacred Site

Wooden Covers of a Palm Leaf Manuscript with Symbols of Sixteen Pilgrimage Sites

  • 13
  • Sri Lanka
  • 19th century
  • Palm leaf, wood, and pigment
  • H. 2 3/16 x W. 20 3/8 x D. 3/4 in. (5.6 x 51.8 x 1.9 cm)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Pratapaditya Pal, M.91.300.3a–b
  • Anuradhapura
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Symbols of sixteen of the Buddhist pilgrimage sites that cross the island of Sri Lanka—thirteen of them stupas, called dagobas in Sinhalese—appear on these colorful manuscript covers. According to tradition, the destinations include places that the Buddha, during his three visits to the island, designated as sites where future Buddhist kings would enshrine corporeal relics. At the top left is the Mahiyangana Dagoba, where the collarbone and a lock of hair of the Buddha are said to be enshrined. At the top center is the Sri Pada, the rock formation near the summit of Adam's Peak that bears an impression of the Buddha's holy footprint. Directly to the right is the site of the eleventh- to twelfth-century carved Reclining Buddha stone at Divaguha. Second from the lower left is the Mahabodhi Tree. Located in Anurad-hapura, the Mahabodhi Tree is said to have grown from a cutting of the southern branch of the Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya, under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. According to tradition, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka of India brought the cutting to Sri Lanka.

PHOTO CREDIT: © 2009 Museum Associates/ Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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