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The Pagan Temple and Stupa
     AT PAGAN, the three arts of painting, sculpture and architecture should be viewed as one. Sculptor-Tna-en, and painter attempted to collaboratr in the creation of a unified whole. In the early Temples, like the Myinpya-gu, this is less apparent, mural paintings, decorative or didactic, tend to be secondary to to the architecture, almost an afterthought. With the building of the Lokha-teik-pan in the first quarter of the 12th century, the idea of the arts in unity, working together to enhance doctrine, state faith and pay homage to the Buddha is embodied.
     Religious monuments at Pagan take a variety of forms and little survives of the great monastic complexes, palace apartments, rest houses and other sacred structures, and nothing survives of the original secular or domestic architecture, all of which had been made from wood. Remaining are the fundamental Buddhist monuments, which were usually made from baked brick though occasionally stone. In Part Two, a selection of monuments representative of the various periods, and movements within those periods, is presented, with a more detailed analysis of each monument's architecture and iconography. Here, the principal architectural forms, their origins and the conceptions behind their construction shall be outlined in brief.
     Pagodas or stupas are solid structures that enshrine a sacred relic or a particularly potent image of the Buddha. The ground plan is usually square, though a, five-sided type develops in the Late Pagan Period. The base is terraced, three or five times, and the terraces rest on an elaborately moulded plinth. The terraces reflect the tiered slopes of the cosmic mountain, Mount Meru, a Brahmanic conception that had been, by this time, absorbed into Theravada Buddhism. The stupa, taken in its original essence, is a giant reliquary designed to contain some part of the mortal remains of Gotama, the Buddha. By the time that Buddhism had reached Pagan, the stupa had developed, in its conception, as a structure; in addition to enshrining the mortal remains of the Buddha (and a number of Pagan stupas claim the distinction of enshrining such contents) they might also enshrine a particularly potent image of the Buddha, usually made from the most costly of materials. Alternatively, the stupa might hold copies of the scriptures or other precious items. Many of the original inscriptions explicitly describe this enshrinement process as this excerpt, translated by Dr Than Tun, details: `
     On Wednsday 22 December 1227, (the following) are enshrined in the cetiya: tile bodily.relics of the Lord; the image of the Lord made from the branch of the sacred banyan tree: the image of the Lord cast in gold; the image of the Lord cast in gold; the image of the Lord in ivory bezoar; and the image of the Lord made of sandlewood. (Underneath) all these were spread gold cushions and silver cushions and these are covered with gold umbrellas Parched rice of gold, parched rice of silver, gold chandeliers and silver chandeliers are also offered. When these gems are enshrined the relic . chamber is closed with bricks. After this wonderful figures of'deva and various beings are made with stucco.
     The stupa is not merely a protective structure built about certain sacred objects. It is a symbol of the Buddha and his dhamma, or sacred teachings-to a Buddhist the ultimate of architectural structures. Though there is a common symbolism with the Brahmanic Mount Meru, the stupa is more than simply an architectural imitation of this cosmic mountain: it becomes, in its own right, the cosmic mountain. Mount Meru, the celestial abode of the Hindu pan theon, was the template upon which the architect philosophers of early Buddhism modelled their monuments. Just ascertain of the Hindu gods. who would normally reside on the slopes of Mount Meru, were (and remain) incorporated into the defence strategy of Buddhism, and indeed were iconographi cally worked into the cosmically orientated layout of the stupa, this most fundamental architectural form, though conceptually Buddhist in origin, was designed according to Brahmanic cosmological thought. On Pagan stupa exteriors, Brahmanic deities were fixed at strategic points and sealed within the inner chamber, or tabena, to guard the relic or sacred image. The stupa's terraces anti structural elements, likewise, reflected the hierarchically ascending slopes of the great mountain:
     The terraces served a practical as well,as a symbolic function; they acted as an open air gallery from which the pilgrim could view pictorial depictions of fundamental texts, usually the Jataka, the 550 tales of Gotama the last buddha's former incarnations; each tale illustrating a major event in each of his 550 past lives. These scenes were stamped onto compact terracotta plaques that, with one exception, at Hpetleik, were glazed.` In the late 11th-early 12th centuries, when kings were attempting to purify the, existingBuddhism of Old Burma, stupa terraces proved a convenient location for the display of a didactic art form. As part of a long-established Buddhist ritual, the male devotee would ritually circumambulate, or make a pradaksina, about the stupa, using the terraces, and learn something of his religion's history from these ,delicate, usually delightful, stamped scenes that were, as an art form, rare and pure, akin to the reformed faith they sought to imbibe. The inclusion of complete Jataka sets on stupa terraces continued through all three periods of dynastic art, on major, usually royal, dedications, notably the planned Dhamma-yazika (1186)4 and the equally magnificent Mingala-zeidi (1268).5 On a number of lesser stupas. like those that flank the Hsin-pya-gu (Late Period), the last ten Jataka were included-the Mahanipata.
     On each of the Early Period stupas' faces medial stairways cut through the terraces and lead to an upper platform from which the anda, the either concavely or convexly-shaped superstructures, rises from an octagonal band set within the upper terrace. Within the core, beneath the ground level, was the sealed-off relic chamber, or tabena, the spiritual epicentre of the sputa. In these were enshrined not only physical relics of the lord, if the dedication was important enough to have obtained, perhaps by force," such precious items as a tooth or hair, but also images, made of costly materials ranging from sandlewood, to gold, ivory and glass,' and palm leaf, or even gold plaque, manuscripts." Other inclusions in the tabena were votive tablets, often bearing the seal or signature of the donor, miniature versions of a stupa or temple and images of Brahmanic deities to protect the hpaya. Often several tabena were included in a stupa and those smaller monuments, that were split open by the 1974 earthquake, display these now opened chambers at various levels. If, as was often the case, the stupa was re-encased at a later date by another outer one, it may be surmised that, as dedications were constructed not only for the salvation of the donor. but also wife and family, and, as in contemporary Burma the descendents of a donor continue to maintain and offer to that dedication, a descendant may have been responsible for the re-encasement of an ancestors' earlier work of merit.
     In the great royal stupas, like the Early Period Shwe-hsan-daw or Late Period Seddana-gyi, either to reduce the volume of brick required, or to foil intruders. seemingly anticipated judging by the epigraphy, labyrinthine systems- of compartments were included, creating a structure that, if viewed from an imaginary cross section, resembles a honevcomh. It remains uncertain whether the enshrinement took place upon completion of the temple or at its foundation. Passages that enter into tile interior appear to have been hewn by the-tabena-sha, or treasure hunters' of later times. So it would seem that enshrinement, as with today, occurred at the dedication of the work. However, in original Indian stupas, where the harmika, or relic casket, was placed between the anda and finial, it may be presumed that the sacred items were inserted after the completion of the main structural body.
     This tradition of placing the harmika, which originally nally had acted as a reliquary casket, between the anda and finial had survived in Ceylon, Nepal and other Buddhist countries; and, though the harmika is depicted in early Pyu stone reliefs," it had been phased out of Burmese stupa design by the time of the rise of imperial Pagan in the 11th century, to revive during the Late Period-the visual consequence of a new phase of Burma-Ceylon relations." The anda itself was covered with stucco, with moulded lotus petals, often with kinimukha masks forming a band about its upper part, once dazzlingly highlighted with' polychrome. The whole stupa itself was mirrored at the terrace-corners with mini-stupa obelisks; these spread out on each of the descending terraces, in each of the cardinal directions. In some Middle Period works, like at Sein-nyet, and Late Period versions, notably the Mingala-zeidi, the kalasa pot, normally associated with Early Period temple plinths, and found in the tympana of the Nan-hpaya exterior window pediments, replaces the mini-stupa.
     Originally all Pagan's stupa and temple exteriors were covered in protective plaster, whitewashed with a lime-haled coating, and the stucco- ornament was enlivened with bright colours. The Pious trustees of the more popular establishments continue to perennially pour lime over their charges' surfaces.
     The anda is surmounted by the anzalaka, a finial that symbolises the lotus bud, from which the crowning seven-tiered finial, chattravali, was placed. Original finials, called athwart in Old Burmese, we know from the dedicatory inscriptions") were made of copper and one was recently found in a temple undergoing local restoration near Chauk and is presently being kept in a local monastery near there.'' The hti that crest:the monuments of Pagan nowadays, have been ..placed there by local devotees who have faithfully acted as the custodians of the Pagan monuments over the centuries, in spite of the sparseness of their own despoiled resources. However, these modern htibear little resemblance to original finials. From pictorial depictions that date from these times, it is apparent that stupas were decked with long banners that must have gracefully flapped in the breeze, as they flowed out like vinous stems from about th lotus bud, in a similar way to the delicate peepal runners stemming; out from about the lord's aureole in the terracotta tablets of the period."
     The stupa is the physical embodiment of the dhamma, not just the supreme teachings of the last historical Buddha, Gotama, but also the sacred laws that govern the workings of the universe. Further to this, the stupa is a physical embodiment of the Buddha himself. Burmese people call a stupa hpuya or 'Lord' and the same generic term is used when referring to an actual image of the Buddha, or to the living embodiment'of the a monk, and, in past monarchic periods, to a king, who was viewed, according to contemporay conceptions, as a future Buddha or bodhisattva, called hpaya-lon in Burmese.'`' Thus, these non-functional structures, with neither an accessible interior, nor a distinct and regular ritual function, are the ultimate architectural form of a Buddhist society. If they are fewer in number, on a colossal scale, to the temples, it is perhaps because of their very 'specialness'; for the construction of so powerful a monument required a highly confident donor. In a number of cases, -a donor included with a temple dedication, small stupas within the sameenclosure. Possibly the explanation why stupas are so outnumbered by gu temples is that in a time when ritual practices involving colourful visual displays, such as music, dance and the-daily ablution and adornment of the humanly treated .image, the stupa was a less functional architectural instrument for the enactment of an anthropomorphically orientated religious life. However, countless mounds in the Pagan area contain the crumbled fragments of stupas and the earliest Buddhist dedications at Pagan dating from the 9th century were stupas based on the bulbous Pyu type.
     The gu, or cave, was a more popular form of dedication than the stupa; they appear to be countless in number, dotted across the plain and seemingly reaching out into infinity in each direction. Their prototype are to be found at the old Pyu capital of Sri Ksetra (the modern village of Hmawza near Prome), where the Be-be and Lei-myet-hna gu temples (7th-8th century) have the same type of voussoir brickwork and radiating arches as those employed on the Pagan temples. The I'yu type is, in plan, based around a solid, or at least inaccessible, central block: there are thus four faces and each face symbolises one of the lasf four buddhas of this bhadrakalpala, or time period, the west-facing buddha being for Sakyamuni, the buddha Gotama, who is generally known as `the Buddha', the most recent buddha to manifest in the present time cycle. Receded into the block at the cardinal points were niches, each of which contained an image of one of the buddhas.
     The Pyu model, known in modem Burmese as lei-myet-han, or four faced, is derived from North Indian prototypes and came to Burma by an overland route. Possible antecedents may be the early Nagari temples at Bhuvaneswar, that date from the 7th century. The earliest Am at Pagan is generally said to be the Nathlaitng-kyaung, most probably built in the early 11th century, which is a Vaisnavite dedication. Its tall elevation and thickly-moulded, upwardly-emphasised sikhara, follows froth the Early Nagari examples." The Nat-hlaung-kyaung plan is, though, based on the Pytt central block, or lei-myet-hna, that carries the sikhara superstructure, and in execution the work shows many traces of Pyu building techniques. Thus, by the rise of Anawrahta, an indigenous building tradition, evolved to express the tenets of Buddhism, manifested itself, for the first time at Pagan, in the form of a non-Buddhist dedication, onto which more recent North Indian developments are added.
     Temples, in Burmese, are called gu, or cave, and must be thought of as artificial caves." They, like the stupa, are hpaya or `lord'. The gu temple's function differs from that of a stupa and, at least in the Early Period, they are intended to evoke the spirit of the early Buddhist caves of North India. Like real caves, often the homes of hermits, they are places for devotion, ritual and meditation. The Hindu concept of Ibhakti, the emphasis -on an intense relationship-between the devotee and an anthropomorphised object of worship, that had influenced the development of the Mahayana. in India, was applied to the early cave temples of Pagan." Thus, in the Early Period temple, the architects created an interior scheme directed towards the inducement of a spirituaf experience, or bhakti. This does not necessarily imply the preeminence of Mahayana cults at Pagan, rather, the Theravada monarchs directed their builders to create schemes that were psychologically conducive to spiritual experience at a time; as clearly stated in contemporary epigraphy, when the religion was undergoing a state-sponsored purification, which in Theravada lards occur periodically, and is the duty of a pious and proper ruler to organise." The Early Pagan builder, zealous in his attempts to propagate the Theravada, felt no constraint when it came to borrowing forms and concepts from the Mahayana. Pagan gu are mystical, yet never esoteric. In fact, they represent an exoteric movement. By the Middle Period this tendency towards the atmospheric in architecture was to be phased out, the Theravada process of purification and conversion having been completed. Bhakti ceased to determine architectural design and a more rational tendency, with a preference for luminosity, displaces the dark mystical Early Period gu interior.

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