Exterior of the Central Hall of Queen's Golden Monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph 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 walled city of Mandalay was Burma’s last great royal capital and was founded in 1857 by Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78), Burma’s penultimate king, 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. The Queen’s Golden
Monastery was constructed on the orders of Queen Supayalat in 1885. It was barely completed when she was exiled to India with her husband Thibaw, the last king of Burma (reigned 1878-1885), following the annexation of Upper Burma by the British Empire. Now destroyed, the monastery stood inside the palace grounds and was a magnificent wooden building lavishly decorated with ornate woodcarving and mirrored glass mosaics. This is a view of the central hall, crowned with tiered roofs, a symbolic form demarcating sacred space which was restricted to royal and religious architecture. It is raised on piles and surrounded by a veranda with flights of masonry steps descending to the ground. The hall is one of several linked pavilions which comprise the monastery, including a shrine room at the eastern end.