Avukana Buddha Statue
Avukana Buddha Statue is a standing Buddha statue located in the village of Avukana near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka. The statue was carved out of a large granite rock face during the 5th century. It is believed that this statue date back to the reign of Dhatusena and the lay people believes that initiation of the construction of this statue is due to the competition between a master and a pupil. This statue is regarded as the best example of a standing statue that is being constructed in ancient Sri Lanka.
The legend behind the construction of Avukana Buddha statue
It is widely believed that Avukana Buddha statue was erected in the 5th century during the reign of King Dhatusena, under his direct orders. However, there is another theory behind the construction. This theory suggests that Avukana Buddha statue was the outcome of the competition between teacher and pupil. According to the legend, once the pupil and his teacher had a competition to construct and show their artistic skill. Therefore, the teacher showed interest to build Avukana Buddha statue while Pupil constructed Buddha statue at Sasseruwa. They compete on the earliest time to complete the Buddha statue and agreed to ring a bell as a notification about the accomplishment of the sculpture. In this challenge, the teacher manages to accomplish the statue first and won the competition. Since the pupil couldn't manage to finish the statue in the first place, it then remained untouched. Even if we compare both the statue, we will find that the Avukana Buddha statue is very fine and better than the later. Due to these cases, historians were led to believe that the story is actually true. However, this one is just a myth and also it has been learned that Sasseruwa Buddha statue was built nearly four hundred years prior to the Avukana Buddha statue.
Characteristic and Iconography Avukana Buddha Statue
Avukana Buddha Statue is a standing Buddha statue that is carved out of a large granite rock face. But it is observed that the statue is not completely carved out, a narrow strip of rock has been left at the back of the statue which serves as a support. However, the pedestal on which the Buddha stands was carved in the form of lotus flower separately and was, later, positioned under the statue. Regarding the height of the statue, it is 38 feet 10 inches tall. If the height is calculated along with the pedestal, then the total height of the Avukana Buddha statue reaches 42 feet.
Avukana Buddha statue is considered one of the best example of Sinhalese art. As it is closely observed the statue shows some influences of the Gandhara School of art and Amaravati School of the art of India. But the statue also confirms the Sinhalese tradition.
Regarding the posture, the Buddha statue is depicted in Abhaya mudra by his right hand and the left hand clutched the robe at the left shoulder. The robe is worn tightly, clearly outlining the shape of the body, and its pleats are carved clearly and delicately. It is worn over the left shoulder, and the right shoulder is bare.
It has already been mentioned that the statue is one of the best Sinhalese artistic creation. Therefore not only Buddhist pilgrims but also other people visit this pilgrimage site. Avukana Buddha statue has become the most attractive place for tourists. Although the site lacked many facilities, it has now been improved by the Department of Archaeology and the Civil Defense Force.