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.
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.