Image: Lanka Information
Sri Lanka’s most talked-about paintings are the Sigiriya maidens, found up the Lion Rock. When they were originally painted in the 5th century, around 500 beautiful ladies decorated the wall, in a massive mural which spanned 450 feet in length and 130 in height. Only twenty-one maidens have survived into the modern day, though the passage of over 1500 years makes the survival of anything a minor miracle.
It’s funny to think about tourism in ancient days, but Sigiriya Rock has been a big draw for travelers since at least the 8th century. Although we can’t clearly make anything out, the Mirror Wall is apparently full of timeworn poems praising the maidens ’ beauty, carved into the stone by early admirers. Conservative people, outraged by the nudity, removed what they could reach, and vandals completely destroyed a big section of the mural in 1967.
Some believe that these were the ladies of King Kasyapa, while others think the Sigiriya Maidens represent goddesses. The women are only painted from the waist up, torsos emerging god-like from clouds. Some of them sport three arms or three breasts.
Goddesses or whatever the women in the paintings are meant to represent, they’re among the most amazing works of ancient art you have ever seen, and seeing them alone is worth the trip to Sigiriya.
For an authentic Sri Lankan experience, stay at our Ayurveda Resort which is approximately 30 minutes away from Sigiriya, and arrange an excursion to see its beautiful maidens.