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Tope

relics, feet and topes

TOPE, a Buddhist monument intended for the preservation of relics. The oldest monu ments of this kind are spherical or elliptical cupolas, resting on a circular or rectilinear base, with an umbrella-shaped roof, and sometimes with a series of roofs of this form which de velop into a spire, pyramid or other architec tural ornament. In the interior is a cell or chamber for containing the box with relics; but in some cases no relics have been found, and it is supposed they have been buried under ground. The Sanskrit name is stuPa, mound, from which is derived thupa and tope, mean ing top. The older topes are masonry mounds, the cupola top and ornamental roofs and spire forms being later developments for ornamenta tion. Some of them are of great architectural beauty, rising tier above tier, with a series of graceful ((parasol" roofs, the limit of height being about 300 feet. But the typical con struction is that of The Great Tope at Sanchi, in central India. This is a hat-shaped mound or dome 42 feet high and 106 feet at the widest point. The flat space on top was for the chhatra or umbrella-like apex, this being the royal em blem. This was like a substantial parasol, as

if to guard the relics from the weather. The Great Tope is surrounded with a magnificently carved stone railing, leaving an elaborate orna mental entrance or gateway, over 30 feet high. The chamber or cell in which the relics were kept was generally built with an outer con struction of masonry; often enclosing a bronze box, which again enclosed a silver cylinder or case and within this perhaps a casket of gold containing the relics which it was desired to preserve. The number of stones in the topes often indicate Buddhistic symbolism three, seven and 13 being the numbers rich in meaning. Topes are common in the Orient and there are groups of conspicuous ones at Amravati, Sarnatti and Telelabad in Bengal, at Satdhara and Sonari in central In dia, at Abayagiri, Ruanwalli and Tupararnaya in Ceylon, etc. Relics of kings and great men were thus cared for, much as we build statues and monuments to-day. Sec DAc.oan; PAGODA.