Bagan Shwezigon Pagoda1


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The golden Shwezigon Paya in Bagan is one of the most significant religious buildings in Myanmar, for it served as a prototype for later stupas built throughout the country and marked an important development in the relationship between traditional Burmese religion and Theravada Buddhism

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Bagan Shwezigon Pagoda1

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Anawrahta is one of the most famous kings in Burmese history. His life stories (legends) are a staple of Burmese folklore and retold in popular literature and theater. In 1057, king Anawratha started the construction of Shwezigon Paya to house a tooth replica of the Buddha. The stupa became an architectural example of all later stupas in Myanmar.
  3. 3. The Shwezigon Pagoda or Shwezigon Paya is a prototype of Burmese stupas, and consists of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. Construction of the Shwezigon Pagoda began during the reign of King Anawrahta and was completed in 1102 AD, during the reign of King Kyansittha of the Pagan Dynasty.
  4. 4. The Burmese founded the Kingdom of Pagan in CE 849, but it was not until King Anawrahta ascended the throne in 1044 that Pagan entered its golden era. Perhaps Anawrahta’s most famous monument is the Shwezigon Pagoda. By the time this pagoda was started, towards the end of his 40-year reign, a distinctly Burmese style had evolved
  5. 5. Anawrahta unified the entire Irrawaddy valley for the first time in history, and placed peripheral regions such as Shan States and Arakan (Northern Rakhine) under Pagan's suzerainty. He successfully stopped the advance of Khmer Empire into Tenasserim coastline and into Upper Menam valley, making Pagan one of two main kingdoms in mainland Southeast Asia
  6. 6. Anawrahta's legacy went far beyond the borders of modern Burma. His embrace of Theravada Buddhism and his success in stopping the advance of Khmer Empire, a Hindu state, provided the Buddhist school, which had been in retreat elsewhere in South and Southeast Asia, a much needed reprieve and a safe shelter.
  7. 7. In 1056, a Mon Theravada Buddhist monk named Shin Arahan made a fateful visit to Pagan, and converted the king to Theravada Buddhism
  8. 8. During a visit to the city one day, Buddha saw what is known as the 'Four Sights', that is, an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy recluse. When He saw the sights, one after another, the realization came to Him that, 'it is subject to age and death'. He asked, 'Where is the realm of life in which there is neither age nor death?' The sight of the recluse, who was calm for having given up the craving for material life, gave him the clue that the first step in His search for Truth was Renunciation.
  9. 9. A very common roofing style in Burmese architecture is called pyatthat, which is a multi-tiered and spired roof.
  10. 10. The king had been dissatisfied with the enormous power of Ari monks over the people, and considered the monks, who ate evening meals, drank liquor, presided over animal sacrifices, and enjoyed a form of ius primae noctis, depraved. In Theravada Buddhism he found a substitute to break the power of the clergy
  11. 11. Probably the most significant aspect of Shwezigon's history is that it marked the first royal endorsement of the 37 nat (spirits), a central focus of Burmese religion before the arrival of Buddhism. King Anawrahta placed 37 figures representig the nat on the lower terraces. Eventually the nats were moved from the terraces to a small hall southeast of the platform called "37 Nats." This can still be visited (when it's unlocked) and is an important shrine for Burmese pilgrims, but the sculptures are unfortunately not the originals. These were swiped by a collector and are rumored to be somewhere in Italy.
  12. 12. The nats are spirits who play a significant part in religion in Myanmar. There are 37 nats officially in the Buddhist pantheon, but many hundreds more, as local nature spirits, bringers of good and bad fortune, and spirits of people & places. The 37 official nats are often depicted in shrines around the outskirts of temples or paya. People may say prayers, make offerings, or make requests of a nat either personally, or through an intermediary. Offerings might be flowers, fruit, money, cigarettes, perfume, or alchohol depending on the individual nat's preferences. Some of the 37 nats are based on historical people, others based on Hindu gods, and, of course, there are the trickster and demon nats.
  13. 13. The Nats
  14. 14. He used traditional nat spirits to attract people to his new religion. Asked why he allowed the nats to be placed in Buddhist temples and pagodas, Anawrahta answered "Men will not come for the sake of new faith. Let them come for their old gods, and gradually they will be won over.”
  15. 15. The Myanmar people usually offer flowers, candles, incenses, umbrellas, perfumed-water etc. to the Buddha shrines when they go to worship in the Pagodas. But when they have special wishes to be attained, they offer the Eugenia leaves to Buddha, in order to obtain their wishes. Myanmar people believe in many spiritual beings known as Nats. These Nats can protect them as well as assist them in many aspects of their lives. In order to gain attention from the Nats, Eugenia leaves together with incenses, flowers, rice, coconut, banana, etc, are offered to the Nats. Nat worship descended from animist traditions that predate the arrival of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar.
  16. 16. It was King Anawrahta of Bagan who, during his reign from 1044 to 1077AD, officially endorsed the coexistence of Buddhism and Nat worship, placing images of the 36 Nat residing at nearby Mount Popa at Shwezigon pagoda in Bagan. He added a 37th spirit to the group named Thagyamin, based on the Hindu spirit Indra who, according to Buddhist beliefs, paid homage to the Buddha on behalf of the other Hindu deities. In this way, King Anawratha was able to sanction the worship of spirits without removing the Buddha from his place at the top of their pantheon. Kelat, Red shoot Eugenia (Eugenia Oleina)
  17. 17. Nats can generally be described as the powerful spirits of people who have died particularly violent, unjust deaths at the hands of authority figures. The brutal nature of their deaths has temporarily removed them from the Buddhist cycle of death and rebirth, leaving their sometimes angry spirits to roan the earth. Worshippers aim to oppose their ill will, and even curry favor, by showing devotion at home, at shrines and at festivals throughout the country. The spirits are thought to have the power to bestow good fortune when placated but can also be quite malevolent and dangerous when angered or ignored.
  18. 18. In the age of Myanmar kings, there was a custom that Eugenia leaves were carried along as symbol of victory when warriors marched to battle fields. In modern time, many soldiers practice this custom. People usually welcome the soldiers who return from front line, by giving away Eugenia springs. School children also use Eugenia leaves for educational success. When they go to examination, they wear Eugenia leaves on their hair (or) carry the leaves within their school books, to attain special blessing in their examinations. The Eugenia leaves are in fact a symbol of success and conquest in the daily life of Burmese people. So, they also name “Aung Thabyay” and means “victory” and “success”.
  19. 19. There are four image houses called "Kyey Gu Taik,"each on one side of the Pagoda. In the eastern house is the statue of Konagamana Buddha, in the western house is the statue of Gotama Buddha, in the northern house is the statue of Kakusanda Buddha, and in the southern house is the statue of Kassapa Buddha. These Buddha statues were cast in alloy and heavily gilt.
  20. 20. The king built Shwezigon to be a massive reliquary to enshrine a collection of relics, including the Buddha's frontal and collar bones, a copy of the tooth relic at Kandy, Sri Lanka, and an emerald Buddha image from China. Legend has it that the site of Shwezigon was chosen by a white elephant.
  21. 21. The Shwezigon shrine was completed between 1086 and 1090 by King Kyanzittha (r. 1084-1113), Anawrahta’s successor. Kyanzittha was arguably Bagan’s greatest king and certainly one of its greatest builders: it was under him that Bagan became known as the "city of four million pagodas“. The Shwezigon Paya has retained to this day the essential shape it assumed on completion in 1090, which became the architectural prototype for many other stupas across Myanmar.
  22. 22. The Shwezigon Pagoda itself is oriented to the east and is built of solid sandstone blocks. Its graceful golden "bell“ is decorated with various designs, encircled by several thick moldings, and is topped with the traditional jeweled hti (umbrella spire) to symbolize sovereignty. It is lit up impressively at night.
  23. 23. The Cinthe, a lion-like creature that guards the entrances
  24. 24. The Cinthe guards the entrances
  25. 25. Text: Internet Pictures: Sanda Foişoreanu & Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu Sound: Hlaing Win Maung - The down