Sigiriya Mirror Wall
Beyond the fresco gallery detour, the path clings to the sheer side of the rock and is protected on the outside by a 3m-high wall. This was originally coated in highly polished plaster made from lime, egg white, beeswax and wild honey; sections of the original plaster survive and still retain a marvellously lustrous sheen. The wall is covered in graffiti, the oldest dating from the seventh century, in which early visitors recorded their impressions of Sigiriya and, especially, the nearby damsels.
This wall was coated with a smooth glaze upon which visitors of 1000 years ago felt impelled to note their impressions of the women in the gallery above – or so says local legend. The graffiti, inscribed between the 6th and 14th centuries, are of great interest to scholars because they show the development of the Sinhala language and script, and because they demonstrate an appreciation of art and beauty. You’ll have to look hard beyond the modern mess to see the ancient messages. One typical graffi to reads, ‘The ladies who wear golden chains on their breasts beckon me. As I have seen the resplendent ladies, heaven appears to me as not good.’ Another reads, ‘A deer-eyed young woman of the mountainside arouses anger in my mind. In her hand she had taken a string of pearls and in her looks she has assumed rivalry with us.’
even after the city was abandoned, Sigiriya continued to draw a steady stream of tourists curious to see the remains of Kassapa’s fabulous pleasure-dome. Taken together, the graffiti form a kind of early medieval visitors’ book, and the 1500 or so decipherable comments give important insights into the development of the Sinhalese language and script.