An awe inspiring testament to the ingenuity of Sri Lanka’s early artisans, a giant figure carved out of solid rock rises up 40 feet into the scorching blue sky. Dating back to the 5th Century, the Avukana Buddha is an impressive standing statue sculpted out of a large granite cliff near Anuradhapura. Recorded as the tallest Buddha statue in the country, it is also considered one of the best examples of Sri Lanka’s ancient sculpture, showcasing the iconometry practiced by craftsmen of the era. Depicted in ‘Asisa Mudra’ or posture of blessing, it follows the proportion of ‘nine faces’: the body height being nine times the length of the face. Legend assumes that this remarkable marvel was a result of competition between master and pupil, but the indisputable genius of this unknown artist lives on to this day in the graceful, delicate lines that belie the medium of his choice.

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