Facade of East Entrance S.D. [Shwe Dagon] Pagoda [Rangoon] 88112
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe (c.1845-1911)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the façade of the east entrance to the Shwe Dagon Paya (Pagoda) at Rangoon (Yangon), taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in the 1890s. The Burmese have an ancient tradition of woodcarving, at which they excel both technically and aesthetically. Beautifully-carved and ornate wooden elements such as the intricate scrollwork spandrels framed between the columns and the foliated eaves in this view are a characteristic feature of Burmese sacred architecture. The spandrels depict an episode from the legendary foundation story of the Shwe Dagon, Burma's most revered Buddhist shrine. Tapissa and Balika, two Burmese merchant brothers, shown on the right with bullock-drawn carts, were encouraged by a nat spirit to seek out the Buddha in India and found him meditating under a sacred Bo tree. He is shown in the carving seated on the left. On their departure, the brothers were given eight hairs from his head and asked to enshrine them as relics on Singuttara Hill where the pagoda now stands.