Growth, energy, power and forbearance, symbolized by elephants, lions, horses and bulls, are vital attributes of the famed Sri Lankan moonstones found among the Anuradhapura ruins.
Found at the bottom of staircases and entrances to most important buildings, the moonstone is uniquely Sri Lankan, and symbolizes the cycle of Sa?s?ra in Buddhism.
Moonstones include a half lotus in the centre enclosed by several concentric rings. The first shows a procession of swans, the second an intricate foliage design known as liyavel, and the third shows the elephants, lions, horses, and bulls.
According to historian Senarath Paranavithana, the sandakada pahana symbolises the cycle of Sa?s?ra. The liyavel depicts worldly desires (Ta?h?) and the lotus the final achievement of Nirvana.
The elephant, bull, lion and horse represent birth, decay, disease and death respectively, while swans symbolise the distinction between good and bad.