Sri Lankan Moonstones

Unique to Sri Lanka, moonstones are placed at the bottom of staircases and temple entrances -kind of like welcome mats – except they are granite slabs and beautifully carved with animal figures and foliage, each representing something significant according to Sinhalese buddhist tradition.


The moonstone above is placed at the entrance of the Seema Malaka temple, a structure that sits on Beira Lake. Its a calm little structure in the middle of the excitement of Colombo’s chaos – we headed there after visiting the large, eclectic compound of the Gangaramaya temple. The petals that my heat-swollen toes are standing on are from the lotus flower: a buddhist symbol of compassion and purity of mind.

Seema Makala (Colombo)

Seema Makala (Colombo)

Seema Malaka (Colombo)

Seema Malaka and the Bodhi tree (Colombo)

The National Museum in Colombo (totally worth the $2.50 entrance fee) had a brief informational nook on moonstones, explaining the symbolic meaning of the four mammals depicted on one of the concentric bands. They represent the four perils of life: elephant: birth, bull: decay, lion; disease, horse: death.

Erik and a moonstone in ruins of ancient Anuradhapura

Erik and a moonstone in ruins of ancient Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura Moonstone

Anuradhapura Moonstone


About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
This entry was posted in Boren Fellowship in Jordan, 2013-2014 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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