Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ancient Toilets

In preparation for yesterday's post I searched the internet to see what it had on ancient toilets. I put 'ancient toilets,' 'history of toilets', 'ancient urinals,' etc. into my search engine and all I got was images of Roman toilets - nothing at all about the interesting and sometimes highly elaborate toilets used in ancient Buddhist monasteries. So in the interest of balance I include here images of some of Sri Lanka's many ancient toilets. The first picture is of the so-called urinal stone at the Western Monastery at Anuradhapura which may date from the around the 9th century. Note the close fitting paving to maximize dryness and easy cleaning. Note also the concave boss for holding the water pot used for washing afterwards. The drain led waste to a covered pit. The third toilet has an interesting feature - a raised border. The purpose of this would have been to facilitate cleaning without the water spreading. The pit beneath this toilet is still discernable. Imagine what you might find if you were able to dig around in the bottom of this pit! Fish bones, fruit pips, a pen knife, perhaps the keys to the front door of the monastery. The last toilet could justly be called a 'throne'. All these toilets except 2 and 5 were originally inside buildings and all were used while squatting, in accordance with the Vinaya.

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