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Garden “Pebble” goes for more than half a million

by Drucilla James

Temple-step2

credit: Bonhams

A rare Sri Lankan temple step found in the garden of a Devon bungalow was sold for £553,250 at Bonhams this week.

The 1,000-year-old carved granite step or “Moonstone” is one of only seven examples known to exist in the world.

“I met the client when she was collecting an item from our office. She mentioned in passing that she had a large slab of carved granite that had come from her mother’s house in Sussex.”

“She explained that that she could not bear to leave the stone behind after her father died and the house was sold. It has been known affectionately in the family as ‘The Pebble’,” said Sam Tuke of Bonhams Exeter Office.

The pre-sale estimate for the piece was £20-30,000.

The stone, which weighs three-quarters of a ton, is beautifully carved with a curved procession of lions, horses, elephants, cows and birds. It is similar to those found in the ancient city of Anuradhapura which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It is a truly wonderful find and one of great importance,” said Alice Bailey, Head of Department for the Islamic and Indian Art Department at Bonhams. “The condition and the quality of the carving are superb. It is a museum piece,” The stone was originally brought to England by a Scottish engineer who had worked in Ceylon.

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