Nats guarding entrance to Myangoon Pagoda, Maulmain
Photographer: Watts and Skeen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from the Curzon Collection, of nat sculptures at the entrance to the Myangoon Pagoda at Moulmein (Mawlamyaing) in Burma, taken by the firm of Watts & Skeen in the 1890s. This is a view of life-sized carved figures mounted beside the entrance to the Myangoon Pagoda. The rearing animal is a mythical lion or chinthe, the traditional guardian of Burmese temples. It is supported by a life-like human figure who is tattooed from waist to thigh, a mark of Burmese manhood. The figure may be one of the Burmese pantheon of thirty-seven nats, which include powerful spirits of humans who have died unnatural deaths. Nats are commonly found on Buddhist edifices such as pagodas, often as territorial spirits who require propitiation.