Sacred Sites of Burma: Myths and Folklore in an Evolving Spiritual Realm



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ISBN: 9789749863602 Categories: , ,

The Buddha himself presented strands of his hair to two traveling merchants in Bodh Gaya, India. The pair returned to Burma where these living hairs are venerated as the country's most sacred relics, now enshrined in the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. This myth began among the Mon in lower Burma only as late as the 14th or 15th century, but it was later adopted throughout the land. If the most sacred monument is the Shwedagon, then the country's most important image is the Mahamuni Buddha in Mandalay. This huge metal sculpture was removed as imperial booty to upper Burma, upon the conquest of Arakan, scarcely more than two hundred years ago. This image is so revered (and powerful), since a legendary Arakan king received the Buddha in his court and was permitted to cast a bronze in the Buddha's likeness. Relics and the connection between the Buddha and the country's kingdoms are basic themes. New myths and shrines, however, emerge with remarkable frequency in our own time, while others fall out of favour. The book covers the most significant old and new sacred sites in Yangon, Pagan, the Mandalay area, and within the Shan, Rakhine and Mon states.

Donald M. Stadtner was for many years an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Texas, Austin, after receiving his Ph.D in Indian art at the University of California, Berkeley. He was first in Burma in 1979, followed by visits in the late 1980s sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. His numerous publications deal with both Indian and Burmese art with his 2005 book Ancient Pagan focusing exclusively on Burma's resplendent capital of old. He divides his time between the San Francisco Bay area, India and Southeast Asia.

364 colour illustrations

ISBN: 9789749863602
Format: Paperback
Publication date: 20/02/2010
RRP: $54.99
Pages: 300
Dimension: 240mm X 175mm
Imprint: River Books