Toluvila statue

The Toluvila statue is a seated image of the Buddha discovered in 1900 in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, that dates back to the 4th or 5th century. Carved out of granite, it is one of the best-preserved sculptures from Sri Lanka and is similar to the Samadhi statue of Anuradhapura. Some features of the statue indicate that it may have been influenced by the Mathura School. The statue is now kept at the National Museum of Colombo.

Toluvila Buddha statue
Toluwila Seated Buddha Statue.jpg
Year4th–5th century
TypeStone sculpture

Appearance and characteristicsEdit

The Toluvila Buddha statue is considered to be a masterpiece, and is one of the best examples of the ancient Sri Lankan sculpting art, along with the Samadhi statue in Anuradhapura.[1][2] The Toluvila statue is also one of the best-preserved images of the Buddha that has been found in Sri Lanka.[3] It is carved out of a single block of granite, and bears a close resemblance to the Samadhi statue, although slightly smaller. The Toluvila statue is 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) in height. It shows the Buddha seated with his legs crossed and hands together in meditation, depicting the dhyana mudra.[4] The seating style is known as weerasana.[5] The distance between the shoulders is 3 feet 5 inches (1.04 m), while the knees are 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) apart.[4]

While many other Buddha statues from the same period have long, hanging earlobes, the Toluvila statue lacks this feature. Another unusual feature is three lines that have been carved into the front of the neck that are believed to have been influenced by the Mathura School of India.[4] It is possible that seated Buddha images, such as the one found at the Wat Phra Borom That temple in Chaiya, Thailand, may have been influenced to some extent by statues of the Anuradhapura period like the Toluvila statue.[6]


Historians believe that it dates back to the latter part of the Anuradhapura period, specifically the 4th or 5th century.[1][5] It was found in 1900 during archaeological excavations conducted in the village of Toluvila in Anuradhapura by archaeologist Harry Charles Purvis Bell.[5] According to him, it was the best historical artifact found in Anuradhapura.[4] The statue was later taken to the National Museum of Colombo, where it is kept to this day. The museum identifies it as the "most significant" sculpture of ancient Sri Lanka that it possesses,[3] and it is displayed directly in front of the main entrance to the building.


  • von Schroeder, Ulrich. (1990). Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka. (752 p.; 1620 illustrations). Hong Kong: Visual Dharma Publications, Ltd. ISBN 962-7049-05-0
  • von Schroeder, Ulrich. (1992). The Golden Age of Sculpture in Sri Lanka – Masterpieces of Buddhist and Hindu Bronzes from Museums in Sri Lanka, [catalogue of the exhibition held at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D. C., 1 November 1992 – 26 September 1993]. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma Publications, Ltd. ISBN 962-7049-06-9
  1. ^ a b Siriwera, W. I. (2004). History of Sri Lanka. Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. pp. 282, 287. ISBN 955-551-257-4.
  2. ^ Smith, Vincent Arthur (1911). A history of fine art in India and Ceylon, from the earliest times to the present day. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 92.
  3. ^ a b "Colombo National Museum". Department of National Museums, Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage. Archived from the original on 8 January 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d Sarachchandra, B. S. (1977). අපේ සංස්කෘතික උරුමය [Cultural Heritage] (in Sinhala). Silva, V. P. p. 119.
  5. ^ a b c Diganwela, T. (1998). කලා ඉතිහාසය [History of Art] (in Sinhala). Wasana Publishers. p. 23.
  6. ^ Jacq-Hergoualc'h, Michel; Hobson, Victoria (2002). The Malay Peninsula: crossroads of the maritime silk road (100 BC-1300 AD), Part 3. 13. Brill. p. 146. ISBN 978-90-04-11973-4.