Interior of the Pagoda, Rangoon
Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior of a pagoda, Rangoon, taken by Bourne & Shepherd in the 1870s. This is a view of a Buddhist shrine, containing a large reclining Buddha flanked by two seated Buddhas on plinths. The reclining pose shows the Buddha lying on his right side with his head supported by his right hand, the position associated with the moment he entered Nirvana. The seated statues show the Buddha in the Bhumisparsha mudra (the 'earth witness' pose) that symbolises the moment he attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree and he touched the ground to summon the earth goddess to bear witness to the event. All three statues are types of the 'Mandalay Buddha': youthful, sweet-faced, wearing an elaborately folded, decorated robe. The balustrade is lined with a variety of honorific white umbrellas used to adorn holy images. The shrine is most probably part of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda complex, Burma's most sacred Buddhist shrine, which stands on a hill in Rangoon and dates to sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries.