Atumashi kyaung or Incomparable monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Atumashi Kyaung (Incomparable Monastery) at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer in 1904 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. This is a general view of the stucco-covered masonry base of the monastery, which is all that remained after the building was burnt and left in ruins by a fire in 1890. The monastery was erected by King Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78) in 1857 as part of the foundation and consecration of Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma which was built to fulfil a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It stood next to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, another meritorious work, at the base of the hill, and instead of the traditional pyatthat spire, had an unusual design, having five graduated terraces constructed on a timber frame covered with an ornately carved layer of white stucco, creating the impression of a rectangular pyramid. In addition, the Italianate arches on the base are attributed to the influence of European architectural ideas in 19th-century Burma. In his Report for the Archaeological Survey of Burma (Rangoon, 1905), Taw Sein Ko gives this account of the monastery: “In it was enshrined a huge image of Buddha of dimensions prescribed in the Buddhist scriptures. It was made of the silken clothes of the king covered with lacquer, and its forehead was adorned with a diamond weighing 32 rattis, which was presented to King Bodawpaya, about a century ago, by Mahanawrata, Governor of Arakan. In the building were deposited, in large teak boxes, four sets of the Tripitaka, and the monastery was entrusted to the care of the late Pakan Sadaw. During the troubles following the annexation of Upper Burma, the valuable diamond disappeared, and the whole building, together with its contents, was burnt in 1890. The carved compound gates, however, are in a good state of preservation, and it has been decided to conserve them.” The monastery has recently been reconstructed to a new design.