Chaityas (tis) at Pagan
Photographer: Oertel, Frederick Oscar (b.1862)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of chaityas at Pagan (Bagan), Burma (Myanmar) taken by Frederick Oscar Oertel in the 1870s. Also known as a stupa, a chaitya is a solid structure containing Buddhist relics or a shrine and is a characteristic form of Burmese religious architecture. It comprises a bell-shaped dome with a tapering, conical spire resting on a series of square terraces and crowned with a hti or umbrella. These white-washed chaityas are among more than two thousand Buddhist monuments built by kings, nobles and monks as meritorious acts on the plain at Pagan on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River in central Burma. The earliest structure dates from the late 9th century. Most date from the period of Pagan’s golden age, between the 11th and the 13th centuries, when it was a royal city and the capital of an extensive Burmese kingdom. This photograph was published in George W. Bird, 'Wanderings in Burma,' (London, 1897). It is one of a series of images in the Temple Collection documenting Burmese pagodas which were taken from a set of slides used by Sir Richard Carnac Temple to illustrate a lecture on 'Developments in Buddhist Architecture'.