General view of Kuthodaw Pagoda, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Kuthodaw Pagoda at Mandalay in 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. Mandalay, in Upper Burma, was the last capital of the Burmese kings, founded in 1857 by King Mindon (reigned 1853-78). The site was chosen in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. The Kuthodaw or Maha Lawka Marazein Paya lies to the north-east of Mandalay
near the hill and its construction began with the founding of the city because the pagoda was one of the features required to consecrate Mandalay as the new royal capital. The walled complex of the Kuthodaw contains what is popularly described as the world’s largest book. The huge central stupa is surrounded by a multitude of small shrines, 729 in all. Each little pagoda houses a marble block on which is carved in Pali script part of the sacred Theravada Buddhist texts, and taken as a whole they comprise the entire Pali canon or Tipitakas (Tripitakas in Sanskrit). This is a distant view of the pagoda, showing the main stupa in the centre, said to be a replica of the 11th-century Shwezigon Paya at Bagan (Pagan), surrounded by the smaller shrines.