The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka

The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka

Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture

By Kapila D. Silva & Dhammika P. Chandrasekara
Foreword by Amos Rapoport

The Ṭämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka focuses on one distinctive Buddhist architectural practice from pre-modern Sri Lanka – the construction of Buddha image-houses on elevated wooden platforms supported by stone pillars. 

Hardback, 250 Pages


July 2021

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

The Ṭämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka focuses on one distinctive Buddhist architectural practice from pre-modern Sri Lanka – the construction of Buddha image-houses on elevated wooden platforms supported by stone pillars. As a centre of Buddhism, Sri Lanka has a rich tradition of erecting Buddha image-houses, the origin of which dates to the fifth century. Yet, the ṭämpiṭavihāra tradition only existed from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The ṭämpiṭavihāra is an exceptional type of image-house, not only for its specific timeframe and unique construction technology, but also for its complex architectural conception of the Buddhist worldview and soteriology. Except for this period of Sri Lankan history, this architectural exemplar does not exist in anytime or anywhere in the entire Buddhist world. This book examines the significant aspects of ṭämpiṭavihāra architecture and documents some of the distinctive examples with an analysis of their architectural design and symbolic content.

Richly illustrated with photographs and drawings, the book is organized into two parts. The first part examines the significant historical, cultural, and architectural aspects of ṭämpiṭavihāras in depth. The second part documents fifty of the distinctive examples of ṭämpiṭavihāras in the country with an analysis of their architectural designs and symbolic content. Each example is illustrated with architectural drawings of its plans, elevations, and sections along with photographs. The book also includes a list of over 200 extant tämpiṭavihāras in the country. This book is the very first comprehensive examination of the subject of tämpiṭavihāras published in any language and made available for a global audience. It narrates the story of ṭämpiṭavihāras from a multidimensional perspective that involves architecture, anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography, history, sociology, and theology. Consequently, it appeals to a vast array of enthusiasts of these disciplines in addition to scholars in Asian studies, South Asian studies, Sri Lankan studies, and Buddhist studies.


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Author Information

Dhammika P. Chandrasekara is a senior lecturer of architecture and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Moraṭuwa, Sri Lanka.

Kapila D. Silva is a professor of architecture at the University of Kansas, USA.


No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Foreword; Introduction; Part I: The Ṭämpiṭavihāra Tradition; Chapter 1: The Tradition of Buddha Image-Houses in Sri Lanka; Chapter 2: The Ṭämpiṭavihāra Design; Chapter 3: The Evolution of Ṭämpiṭavihāra and Their Variations; Conclusion; Part II: Illustrations of Selected Ṭämpiṭavihāras; Introduction; Central Province; North Central Province; North Western (Vyamba) Province; Sabaragamuva Province; Southern Province; Ūva Province; Western Province; Bibliography; Appendix: A List of Ṭämpiṭavihāras in Sri Lanka.


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