Akyouk Toung Wall near Prome
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe (c.1845-1911)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Akyouk Toung Wall near Prome (Pyay or Pye) in Burma (Myanmar), taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in the 1890s. Burmese art has historically been intertwined with Buddhism and Buddha images are considered among its finest expressions. Buddhism had existed in Burma since ancient times, but it became well-established when Theravada Buddhism was adopted as the Burmese national religion in the 11th century by King Anawrahta during the Bagan (Pagan) era. 'Theravada' or Doctrine of Elders is rooted in the texts of the Pali canon or Tipitaka which are held to be the earliest documents of Buddha's teachings. Sri Lanka was the original stronghold of the school, and it then spread through South Asia and is still the chief belief system in the region. This view shows a group of seated and reclining Buddha images with inscriptions in niches carved out of the wall. Some seem to be carved from the rock and others are painted and gilded statues deposited in the niches. A range of regional types were produced during different periods, varying in scale from modest to colossal. Buddha images are found in sacred sites throughout Burma including temples, cave temples and wall shrines such as this.