Gaja-Singha [12 kb]
Gaja-Singha (Elephant and Lion): Traditional symbol of spiritual authority and temporal power

The elephant takes precedence in our culture since it shaped the first paths. The animal embodies wisdom and, as a spiritual authority, was elevated to a god. The lion, meanwhile, is a solar symbol and denotes kingship, virility, action and temporal power.

The polarity of the two animals—wisdom and method—is evident everywhere in the traditions that sustain our culture. Their union—the Gaja-Singha — is a part of our artistic heritage, and it is the spirit of this union which pervades the puranagamas, or villages.

When our first ancestors, nomadic hunter-gatherers known as the Veddhas, settled down to practice agriculture, a village was born. Our village was our chief social unit and the focal point of our lives.

Surrounded by lush tropical forests and connected to other villages by footpaths, each village played its part in maintaining the balance and harmony of Mother Lanka, also known as Dhammadeepa.

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