Entrance to the Pagoda at Bassein 3551178
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the entrance to a pagoda at Bassein (Pathein), Burma (Myanmar), taken by an unknown photographer in about 1880, part of the Dunlop Smith Collection: Sir Charles Aitchison Album of Views in India and Burma. Bassein is a premier port city in the Delta region of Burma, a major centre of trade and noted for its handicrafts. It became part of British Burma in 1852. This is a view of a long covered walkway leading to the pagoda, consisting of a series of tiered wooden roofs with ornate spires known as ‘pyat-that,’ supported on a colonnade of pillars. At the entrance stand two giant chinthes or leogryphs, Burmese temple guardian figures. The bell-shaped dome and spire of the pagoda itself can be seen at right, built in the characteristic form of a stupa, a solid structure enshrining sacred relics, precious stones and images of the Buddha. Either a part or the whole structure is often gilded. The Shwemokhtaw is the main pagoda at Bassein. It is one of three which according to legend were each built at the command of a Muslim princess by her three lovers.