Our crew at the Thivanka Image House
Thivanka Image House is a part of a temple complex known as Jethawanaramaya, in Polonnaruwa City. This image house was built by king Maha Parakramabahu who was the king of Polonnaruwa kingdom from 1123 to1186. The name Thivanka was given to it by prof. Paranavithana because of the Buddha statue in the image house is bent at three places, namely shoulder, waist and knee. This is the only Buddha statue found in this posture. According to professor Paranavithana, it resembles the moment Load Buddha has landed on earth after visiting to Thawthisa heaven to peach abidharma to his mother (Mathru Divya Rajaya). In order to mimic the action of landing from a ladder the statue is bent in three places. The statue is constructed using bricks and a plaster which is more than six inches thick. Inner chamber
The image house is built using bricks. It has the architecture of Gedige, just like Lankathilaka and Thuparama, the other two main image houses found in Polonnaruwa. Out of them the complete structure can be seen in Thuparama image house. The walls are 7-12 feets thick. The outer wall of the image house is decorated with Vamana (dwarf) statues, Vimana resembling heavens and lions.
Frescoes resembling gods This image house is one of the main places where one can see paintings of the Polonnaruwa era. Many of the paintings are still preserved well and thanks to the effort of prof. Paranavithana in building a roof to protect them from natural hasards they are still in the shape they have found by him. Many paintings resemble part of Load Buddhas life and Jathaka stories. Paintings in the inner chamber are connected with the Buddha statue and represent the moment Load Buddha has landed on earth. The golden ladder used to climb up and come down can be seen easily in the paintings and the Sakra (The load of the god) is holding a pearl umbrella (Muth Kudaya) as a shelter for Load Buddha also can be seen in the paintings. All these paintings are panted using three colors, namely red, green and yellow. Frescoes of gods
According to the archaeological department assigned person at the image house, it is built for bikshu, who were meditating in the Arama complex to worship Load Buddha. It facilitate worshiping Load Buddha in three ways, Pada wandana (worshiping foot), Sirasa Wandana (worshiping head) and Pradhakshina patha (Worshiping around the body). There is a pradhakshina patha, a narrow path around the main chamber holding the Buddha statue which starts with a high entrance and ends with a low exit. This implies those who enters the path with straight head will clear their minds on the way hens bend their head at the exit. Jathaka katha
Wessanthara Jathakaya. This was used in the first stamp of Sri Lanka. There is also another pradakshina patha on the second level of the building to worship head of the Load Buddha and there is a small steep staircase to get in to that level. These steps are built as narrow steps in order to avoid climbers facing their back toward the Load Buddha statue at any time.
Inside the pradhakshina patha Two pradakshina patha also built in a way that who goes inside will never facing face their back toward the statue. All the turns
A guard stone (Mura Gala)
also designed to face toward Load Buddha statue when taking the turn.
The Thivanka Image House is identifies as the shrine which housed the scared Tooth Relic during the annual procession.
Today when you visit the image house, there is a huge mettle structure build around it. One might think that the archaeological department is repairing the image house, but the truth is it is the supportive structure for the roof built by the department. So don't think you can take a better picture after they have finish repairing, it will be the same as long as the roof exists in the current form. However, the person from archaeological department told us there is a plan to built a shelter just like the one in Stone Shrine (Gal Wiharaya) by the UNESCO.
Information in the article is mainly from the information I have collected from the archaeological department representative who was very friendly and helpful to us when we were at the location. Even though it was the third time or so I was visiting there, it was the first time I learn those information saw the unseen beauty and details of the structure. Some information that I haven't been managed to grab at that place were extracted from Wiki, amazinglanka, and few other sources in the internet.
Please feel free to correct any information given in the article if they are incorrect and thanks for reading.