Gigantic statue of Buddha at Wingaba, Rangoon
Photographer: Watts and Skeen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from the Curzon Collection, of a colossal Buddha statue at Wingaba, Rangoon (Yangon), taken by Watts and Skeen in the 1890s. There is an ancient tradition of large-scale Buddha sculptures in Burma. The most venerated is the reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha of Bago, which dates from the 10th century and is 55 metres (180 ft) long and 16 metres (52 ft) high. Rediscovered in the 19th century, the Bago Buddha had become lost and overgrown with tropical vegetation. The Buddha in this view is shown in a partially ruined state, surrounded by the pillars of a pavilion in a site overgrown with vegetation. It is probably the seated Buddha known as the Ngahtatgyi, sometimes called the ‘five-storey Buddha’. Today it is housed in the Ashay Tawya Kyaung monastery in north Rangoon. Nearby is the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, a pavilion housing a 70-metre (230 ft) long reclining Buddha of recent construction which replaced an older Buddha figure dating from the turn of the 20th century. In Burma the Buddha can be represented either sitting, lying or standing in particular attitudes. This Buddha is seated on a plinth with his right hand touching the ground in the attitude known as Bhumisparsha Mudra which depicts the Buddha calling on the earth goddess to witness the moment of his enlightenment.