Interior of the Pyatthat of Queen's Golden Monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior 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. This is a view of the gilded interior of the main shrine room at the eastern end of the monastery. It was crowned by a seven-tiered spire known as a pyatthat, supported on the internal pillars. The pyatthat was a symbolic form demarcating sacred space and its use was restricted to royal and religious architecture. The monastery was constructed in 1885 on the orders of Queen Supayalat, wife of Thibaw, the last king of Burma (reigned 1878-1885). It was barely completed when she was exiled to India with her husband following the annexation of Upper Burma by the British Empire. Now destroyed, it stood in the grounds of the Royal Palace and was a magnificent wooden building richly decorated with ornate woodcarving and mirrored glass mosaic, known as the Queen's Golden Monastery for its glittering appearance. Mandalay was Burma’s last great royal capital and was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78) 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.