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     The buddha Gotama is the most commonplace and fundamental icon of Theravada Pagan. Usually intended for the central image of a temple's shrine, he may be portrayed in a variety of mudra and asana that had developed in India during Gandharan and Mathuran times. When his image is placed centrally in a temple shrine, Gotama is generally portrayed in the bbhumisparsamudra, the moment when, as bodhisattva, Gotama defeated Mara, the personification of evil, and touched the earth to call it to witness his supreme victory and enlightenment-Buddhahood. This vision of a struggle with, and victory over, evil, was a favourite theme in the pictorial imagery of a temple, and the Buddha was often portrayed on a colossal scale, surrounded by paintings which elaborately detailed this fantastic struggle, and the ultimate rout of Mara's host.
     Either nomadic hill men or perhaps warring Mons and Burmans in later times, their lust for booty unleashed by political instability and economic arduousness, were responsible for the disembowelment and decollation of nearly all these colossal brick and stucco temple images. For within these hpaya, donors sealed treasure of various sorts, the presence of which somehow increased the potency of the image for the believer, through its very costliness. Such enclosures, ritually positioned, not only increased the image's credibility but paid honour to the `Supreme Teacher'. Just as treasures were also enshrined within the tabena of a temple or stupa, sot was within an image. In a colossal image, that acted as the main icon in a temple, the usual place for concealment were in the cranium, the heart, the abdomen and in each of the upper arms. This again reflected architectural conceptions, with often several tabena included at various levels within the structure. Such a metaphor of hpaya radiating out from hpaya is well attested in sacred texts and at Pagan was illustrated in the multiplication of the Buddha's image to a maximum of 100 on terracotta votive tablets. Thus, hpaya emanates from hpaya in a cosmic radiation. Likewise, small stone reliquary stupas might encase others, and in certain examples actual stupas re-encase other stupas. Likewise, a brick and stucco image may encase, not only precious gems, but another image within it.
     The Pyu and Mon were naturally well acquainted with so fundamental an icon as Gotama at his supreme moment. It would seem that in these pre-Pagan city states a number of Buddhist and Hindu cults and sects co-existed, one of which was the Theravada sect which rose to prominence at Pagan, where it was to undergo a purification under the supervision of the Ceylonese. A variety of images of Gotama Buddha date from these early times which are stylistically derived from the art of the Gupta Period of North India (5th century A.D.), The Mon art of this period was more closely related to the art of Dvaravati in Southern Thailand, adopting a humanistic radiance that recalled earlier phases of Indian art, notably the work of the Mathura period (Lst-3rd century A.D.). At Sri Ksetra the Buddha's images are far closer to the more contemporary Guptan work, less benign and more overbearing in their appearance. It would appear that at Sri Ksetra, an indigenous Buddhist and Hindu iconography had by the 8th century evolved often radically to depart from the established iconographical norms of Indian art. Thus, Gotama may be portrayed with his left hand touching the earth rather than his right, or, as Ray has elaborated, Hindu deities are portrayed with attributes that are deviant from the dogmas of Indian iconography." Sri Ksetra was a matter of a few days downstream sail from Pagan and, as with architecture, the fundamental elements of Pagan's iconography were directly derived from this indigenous Pyu tradition, reinforced by a new wave of influence from 11th century Pala India. Though North Indian religious life had by this time evolved to the `Greater Vehicle' or Mahayana, the Old Burmans felt no constraint when it came to borrowing from the Mahayana artistic and architectural vocabulary and repertoire, imitating this contemporary aesthetic whilst retaining their own longstanding doctrinal and iconographic traditions, that during the great reign of Kyanzittha, underwent a purge of any deviant elements.
No.11 upper left: Pyu stucco work from Sri Ksetra (Hmawza Museum)
No.12 lower left: Gotama and Mettaya, found at Kyasin temple Pagan, and close in style to Pyu types
No.13upper right: the Buddha in bhumisparsamudra, Pagan museum, reign of Kyanzittha
No.14 lower right: Late Period buddha in bhumisparsamudra, Pagan Museum
     Thus, it may be said that, at Pagan, the monumental appeal of Pyu art combines with the humanistic appeal of Mon art, and a third ingredient blends to create the moving yet succinct Early Pagan Buddha: the art of the Pala dynasty of Bengal, who had succeeded the Guptas by the 8th century as the political and cultural force in North India. Pala art reached Pagan in the form of two portable mediums, bronze and terracotta, brought back from Bodh Gaya and the holy places of Buddhism by pilgrims, merchants and monks. Cultural exchange was, though, two way, votive tablets from Burma are to be found in the Calcutta Museum and it is known that Kyanzittha, and possibly also Nadaungmya, sent missions to restore the Vajrasana Temple at Bodh Gaya." The introduction of Paladerived Mahayana art into Theravada Burma does not appear to have doctrinally unsettled the people of Pagan. Images of the Buddha in bhumisparsamudra, crowned or uncrowned, in Pala Bengal had, by the 11th century, evolved to represent Aksoba, one of the five Dhyani Buddhas. The original intention behind this portrayal of Gotama, the historical Buddha, had thus, by the 11th century, been displaced in Mahayana lands." In Theravada Burma the original significance of bhumisparsa portrayal had remained, whilst any Mahayana connection this portrayal might have accrued was soon ignored, if ever realised. Thus, as with contemporary architectural design, the Theravada eclectically borrowed from the Mahayana to enhance their own faith, that by this date was doctrinally opposite to the Mahayana. Likewise, many a motif or form, deployed in painted mural decorations, originated from the art of Northern Buddhism and was modified to suit Theravada tastes. The presence of bodhisattva, sakti, and other Mahayana and Tantric divinities has in the past confused some scholars, leading them to suggest that the ritual practices and philosophies associated with such imagery had been incorporated into the religious life of Pagan." However, as will be emphasised throughout this work, such images are secondary to the fundamental image of Gotama and the Pali texts that tell his story and illustrate his teachings.
     The Pala idiom, in which Gotama was portrayed in 11th century Pagan, particularly when bronze or stone was the medium, is distinctive: the physiognomy sharp, with accentuated features, perhaps even slightly stylised,, or, in Zimmer's words, "deficient in true plastic life," a style that propagated the then, in North India, prevalent concept of the divine aloofness of a Buddha." Though a Pala type of physiognomy and physiology certainly became imbued in the early Pagan aesthetic, the radiant spirituality of Mon-Dvaravati art, and that very Guptan boldness, strength and power of Pyu art wielded a potent indigenous influence in the formation of an Early Pagan style of portraying the Buddha, as indeed was the case iconographically. To borrow again from the immortal prose of Zimmer, this time from his characterisation of Burmese art:
     simplicity and composure, a sober cleanliness of contour that rejects exuberance of omament and detail, and a cool pure atmosphere, nicely balanced between a dignified graceful emptiness and a sweet inward spiritual life.
     The characteristics of the Pagan buddha have been elaborated upon with the more technical eye of the woodcarver Tampawaddy Lt, Win Maung, and his description might also be applied to images portrayed in other media, here in L.E. Bagshawe's translation:
     We can describe the points common to the Indian style as follows:
     1. The kin or ushnisha, the mark of omniscient wisdom, is present. The kin is flat and is placed a little behind the top of the head. It usually takes the form of the pipaI leaf or a lotus bud, and it was a frequent practice to decorate it with jewels set in it.
     2. The top of the head (mani-daw) is small but raised. The hair is represented by an arrangement of small rounds (ywelon-tan).
     3. There is no separate representation of the head band, called thin kyit. The front hair line takes the form of the thin kyit.
     4. The forelock (uhna-lon) is incised.
     5.The length of the ear is only eight fingers breadth, from the top of the eyebrows to the chin, and does not reach down to the shoulder. Inside the ear (the hollow of the ear) is hollowed out. There is no boundary between upper and lower parts of the ear; it is all in one piece. The tip of the ear leans a little forward.
     6. The eyebrows, the eyes, the base of the nose, the mouth and the chin all slant-upward, going outward from the central line.
     7. The tip of the nose is curved, and comes below the wings of the nostrils. Its bridge is sharp and its ridge is ' marked.
     8. The eyes are shaped as a parrot drinking.
     9. The upper lip is lorfg and thin; the lower lip is thick and short.
     10. The chin is distinct and rounded, coming to a point in front.
     11. The neck is wider at the base, and the three folds can be seen distinctly.
     12. From the hairline to the brow (myet-hmaung) to the tip of the nose is one unit; from the brow to the tip of the nose is the same; from the nose lip to the chin is again the same. One third of the face belongs each to the area of the eyes and to the area of the mouth.
     13. The ears are set towards the back of the head and in front of them is a wide area of the cheek. ' 14 From the top of the head the hair falls to a little above the point of the chin.
     However, U Win Maung's characterisation of the Pagan image refers mainly to the Early Pagan image, as he notes particularly those dedicated by Kyanzittha in his various temples.
     By the mid-12th century, bodies broaden and become shorter, whilst faces grow round, and the crown of the head flatter; the lips thicker, the jowls deeper; the Pagan buddha become less succinct in its expression, whilst more benign. Stone relief images, in contrast to terracotta ones, dating to before the succession of Kyanzittha are more rare. A number of monoliths, dhyanamudra, with one exception, which is bhumisparsamudra, have been found in the Pagan area; examples of which may be seen in the west hall of the DIammayan-gyi; in one of the Dhamma-yazika shrines; in two of the small temples in the Shwe-hsandaw enclosure; one at the Lokananda and one in the museum, excavated from the Shwe-hsandaw. Luce mentions in his- description of the Dhamma-yan-gyi that the one found there dates from the Ava Period .z However, Luce's assumption, based on a recently damaged ink inscription to the image's right, refers to the restoration, or rededication, of the image, not its manufacture. As U Aung Kyaing makes apparent, these monoliths, most commonly found at dedications associated with Anawrahta, are by their squatter shape, with short necks and awesomely bold faces, comparable with certain of Anawrahta's terracotta plaques. Further, there seems to be a clear stylistic connection with the Gupta-derived work of the Pyu.

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