Carving on the railings of Queen's Monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the carved balustrade of the Queen’s Kyaung (Monastery) in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer in 1903 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. The Queen’s Golden Monastery was constructed in 1885 on the orders of Queen Supayalat, wife of Thibaw, the last king of Burma (reigned 1878-1885). It was barely completed when she was exiled to India with
her husband following the annexation of Upper Burma by the British Empire. Now destroyed, the monastery stood in the grounds of the Royal Palace and was a magnificent wooden building profusely decorated with ornate woodcarving and mirrored glass mosaic. It was raised on piles following traditional Burmese construction methods and surrounded by a veranda enclosed by carved screens. This is a close-up view of a screen, carved in deep relief with a design of interlaced floral scrollwork in the midst of which sit small figures from the Burmese pantheon. A large figure is attached to the corner post and five smaller figures stand in a line on the top of the screen. Burma has a long tradition of woodcarving, at which its artisans excel both technically and aesthetically, and the best work could usually be
found on palaces and monasteries. Mandalay was Burma’s last great royal capital and was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78) in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. As a consequence of royal patronage there were many religious foundations in the city and a wealth of monastic architecture.