Interior of the Central Hall of Queen's Golden Monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior of the Central Hall in the Queen’s Kyaung (Monastery) at
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. It is probably of the Saung-ma-gyi, the largest hall in a monastery used as a reception, classroom and monks' dormitory. This view of the interior looks towards a shrine set between tall pillars. Almost every surface has been richly decorated with gilding, woodcarving and glass mosaic to create a magnificent effect. The pillars are gilded, banded with mirrored glass mosaic and hung with garlands of scrollwork relief carving. Triangular panels carved in deep relief with narrative scenes interlaced with foliage are set at the base of the pillars. The walls are covered with mirrored glass mosaic panels. The shrine is ornate and glittering, with an altar set before it below a fringed canopy. The monastery was a wooden building 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 known as the Queen's Golden Monastery for the splendour of its exterior and interior decoration. 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.