Mahazedi Pagoda, [Pegu].
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Mahazedi Pagoda near Pegu (Bago), Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1907-13. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer of the Burma Archaeological Survey.
Bago, the fourth largest city in Burma, is about 80 kms north-east of Rangoon and was once ancient Hanthawadi, the capital of a Mon kingdom. It is said to have been founded in the 6th century by two Mon princes from Thaton, but achieved its greatest prosperity in the later Mon dynastic period of 1369-1539. To Europeans, it was the important seaport of Pegu. Today little remains of its regal past except for monuments outside the city such as the Mahazedi or ‘Great Stupa’. Bago was conquered in 1539 by the Burman Taungoo dynasty. The pagoda was built in 1560 by King Bayinnaung to house a tooth which was believed to be that of the actual Buddha, taken from Kandy in Sri Lanka. The tooth was removed in 1610 to Taungoo. The Mahazedi was destroyed in the 1757 sack of Bago, somewhat rebuilt in 1860 and levelled again by an earthquake in 1930. Its reconstruction was only completed in the 1980s and it is unlike other large stupas in Lower Burma as it has steep stairways ascending two-thirds of the way up its exterior.