Interior of [Atumashi] monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior of the Atumashi Kyaung (Incomparable Monastery) 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 1904 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. This is a general view of charred brick pillars in the monastery interior, which with the stucco-covered masonry base was all that remained after the building was burnt and left in ruins by a fire in 1890. The monastery was erected by King Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78) in 1857 as part of
the consecration of Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma which was founded to fulfil a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill, visible in the distance in this image. It stood near the hill next to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, another meritorious work. Instead of the traditional pyatthat spire, it had an unusual design of five graduated terraces of timber covered with ornately carved and moulded white stucco, creating the impression of a rectangular pyramid. In addition, the Italianate arches on the base are attributed to the influence of European architectural ideas in 19th-century Burma. In his Report for the Archaeological Survey of Burma (Rangoon, 1905), Taw Sein Ko gives this
account of the monastery interior: “In it was enshrined a huge image of Buddha of dimensions prescribed in the Buddhist scriptures. It was made of the silken clothes of the king covered with lacquer, and its forehead was adorned with a diamond weighing 32 rattis, which was presented to King Bodawpaya, about a century ago, by Mahanawrata, Governor of Arakan. In the building were deposited, in large teak boxes, four sets of the Tripitaka, and the monastery was entrusted to the care of the late Pakan Sadaw.” The monastery has recently been reconstructed to a new design.