Sunday, 22 February 2015

Hsinbyume Pagoda

Also known as Myatheindan Pagoda and commissioned in commemoration of the king’s late wife, Hsinbyume was built in 1816 in the form of a great, white wave. Once completed, the king is believed to have enshrined a very valuable emerald inside, worth 100,000 gold coins (the meaning of myatheindan in its alternative name). It’s possible that the pagoda may have been built from the materials taken from the Mingun Pagoda after it fell into disrepair.

Burmese consider Hsinbuyme one of the more symbolic or poetic pieces of Buddhist architecture in their country. It is believed to be a representation of Sulamani Pagoda, which in Buddhist cosmology stood atop Mt. Meru, the mountain in the center of the universe. The Heaven of the Thirty Three Gods (Tāvatiṃsa) is believed to be found on the top of this. Seven terraces surround the pagoda, representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt. Meru. Various deities are carved around the base of the pagoda’s central tower. A Buddha image sits at the very top, and there’s an interesting story as to how it got there. A Buddha statue on a lower level was beheaded by treasure seekers, but when it was restored, pilgrims felt the new head was tilted too low, so this image was then commissioned to sit atop the structure. One of the original walls still runs across the perimeter, with some speculating this may be that barrier containing the cosmos. The top of Mingun Pagoda affords an excellent view of this site.

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