December 23, 2014

0353, 1373 SRI LANKA - Ancient City of Sigiriya (UNESCO WHS)

0353 Sigiriya frescoes

Posted on 06.10.2012, 23.12.2014
In the heart of the island Sri Lanka, dominating the surrounding jungle, rises approximately 370m Sigiriya (Lion's rock), sheer on all sides, in many places overhanging the base, elliptical in plan and with a flat top, which is gradually sloped along the long axis of the ellipse. Buddhist monastic settlements were established during the 3rd century BCE in the western and northern slopes. The rock was used as monastery since the 5th century BC, with caves prepared by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha.

1373 Lion's paw of Sigiriya rock

According to Mahavamsa, during King Kashyapa's reign (477-495 AD) Sigiriya developed into a complex city and fortress, being considered one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, very elaborate and imaginative. There was a sculpted lion's head above the legs and paws flanking the entrance, but the head collapsed years ago. The poem recounts that Dhatusena, the unifier of the country and the first king of the Moriyan dynasty, had two sons, Moggallana, the son of the royal consort, and Kashyapa, born to a non-royal concubine.

The heir to the throne was the first of them, but Kashyapa rebelled against his father and overthrew him. Fearing an attack from Moggallana, who managed to escape and fled to South India, Kashyapa moved the capital from Anuradhapura to the more secure location of Sigiriya, where he constructed an elaborate city and a large citadel on top of the rock. He also buried his father alive in the bund of the Kalaweva, reason for which was called Kashyapa the Patricide.

Finally Moggallana returned with an army, and in the battle that ensued in the plains surrounding Sigiriya he defeated Kashyapa, who killed himself with his own sword. The new king moved again the capital to Anuradapura, leaving Sigiriya to Buddhist monks, who used it until 14th century, when it was definitively abandoned. After this period, no records are found on Sigiriya until the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was used briefly as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.

The site consists of the remains of an upper palace, placed on the top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palace that clings to the slopes below the rock, and the moats, walls, and gardens that extend for some hundreds of metres out from the base of the rock. Most of the western face of the rock is covered by paintings in a unique style, in which appear 500 ladies splendidly adorned with jewelry and chaplets of flowers, and the complexion in three tones: red, yellow and green.

There are various ideas about the true identity of them. Some believe that they are the ladies of Kasyapa’s court in a devotional procession to the shrine at Pidurangala, while others suggested that they represented Lightning Princesses (vijju kumari) and cloud damsels (meghalata),  apsaras in keeping with well established South Asian traditions, or even the representations of goddess Tara, the greatest and most adored goddess in Mahayana Buddhism.

About the stamps
On the postard 0353
No, I didn't mistake, I posted two back sides because simply I received this postcard twice. On the first one is a stamp belonging to the series Fantastic Beaches of Sri Lanka, issued on September 7, 2010:
• Pasikudah Beach (15 LKR)
• Trincomalee Beach (25 LKR) - It's on the postcard 0353-1
• Arugam Bay Beach (40 LKR)

On the second postcard are three stamps. The first on the left was issued on July 16, 2012, with the occasion of National Archaeology Week, and depicted a terracotta figure even from Sigiriya.

The following two are part of the series Games of the XXX Olympiad London 2012, issued on July 23, 2012. Each of the four stamps shows London 2012 logo, the Olympic rings, the Big Ben and the following Olympic disciplines:
• Athletics (5 LKR) - It's on the postcard 0353-2
• Swimming (15 LKR) - It's on the postcard 0353-2
• Shooting (25 LKR)
• Tennis (75 LKR)

On the postcard 1373

The first stamp, designed by Isuru Chathuranga, was issued on April 5, 2013 to mark the sixth Pada Yatra, conducted in Sri Lanka between 6 March and 6 April, 2013. The first Pada Yatra, a religious pilgrimage undertaken towards sacred Hindu shrines or pilgrimage sites, held in 2009, when Gyalwang Drukpa and 700 people spent three months trekking through the harshest terrain of the Himalayas to meet with remote villagers and nomadic tribes to assess their needs for aid and support. The core philosophy of the movement is to address modern global challenges through active compassion. About 240 monks and nuns from India, Nepal and Bhutan and other six countries participated to the sixth Pada Yatra, first unfolded outside India, covering a distance of about 500km.

The second stamp is part of the series Yala National Park, designed by Kelum A Gunasekara and D.G. Sudath Jayawardhana, and issued on July 28, 2013:
Hauksbill turtle / Eretmochelys imbricata (5.00 LKR) - It's on the postcard 1373
Swamp crocodile / Crocodylus palustris (15.00 LKR)
Elephant / Elephas maximus (25.00 LKR)
Black-necked stork / Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus (30.00 LKR)
Wild boar / Sus scrofa (40.00 LKR)
Spotted deer / Axis axis (50.00 LKR)

The third stamp is part of the series Flowers of Sri Lanka, issued on 2012 (all with the same face value, 5.00 LKR):
• Binara Flower / Exacum trinervium - It's on the postcard 1514
Frangipani Flower / Plumeria rubra - It's on the postcard 1373
Shoe Flower / Hibiscus rosa-sinensis - It's on the postcard 1514
Sunflower / Helianthus annuus - It's on the postcard 1562

The fourth stamp is part of the serie designed by Kumudu Tharaka and issued on May 12, 2014, to celebrate the Vesak in 2014. Vesak, also known as Buddha Purnima, is a holyday observed traditionally by Buddhists. Sometimes informally called Buddha's Birthday, it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition.
• 5.00 LKR - It's on the postcard 1373
• 10.00 LKR
• 15.00 LKR
• 20.00 LKR

The fifth stamp is part of the series Zodiac, issued on October 9, 2007.

The sixth was issued October 9, 2013 to celebrate World Post Day, which happens each year on October 9, remembering this date for the establishment of Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland.

Sigiriya - Wikipedia
Sigiriya: The Mount of Remembrance - Sigiriya site
Stamps issued with LK028.10 - UPU official site
XXX Olympic Games LONDON 2012, Sri Lanka - Philately News

Sender 0353: Ravindra Ratnapala (direct swap)
Sent from Colombo (Western Province / Sri Lanka), on 19.04.2012
Sent from Colombo (Western Province / Sri Lanka), on 07.09.2012
Photo: Juergen Schreiber
Sender 1373: Amith Gamage
Sent from Homagama (Western Province / Sri Lanka), on 01.12.2014
Photo: Juergen Schreiber

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