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Parapet of Bidagat-taik, [Mandalay]

Parapet of Bidagat-taik, [Mandalay]

Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1904

Shelfmark: Photo 1004/1(140)

Item number: 10041140

Length: 15

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the façade of the Pitaka-taik (Royal Library) 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. Mandalay, in Upper Burma, was the last capital of the Burmese kings, founded in 1857 by King Mindon (reigned 1853-78). The site was chosen in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. The Pitaka-taik no longer exists but was one of seven structures built to mark the foundation and consecration of the city as the new royal capital and stood near the hill close to the Kuthodaw Pagoda. Taw Sein Ko commented in his

‘Report on Archaeological Work in Burma for the year 1903-04’ (Rangoon, 1909): “The Pitakat Taik or Library is a masonry building with teak joists. Its restoration will cost about Rs. 7,000, but its architecture or historical associations do not appear to justify such expenditure.” This is a view of the building from outside the enclosure wall, on the edge of which sits a Burmese boy. The wall and the parapets on the building are ornamented with diamond- or leaf-shaped elements called sein-tung, used to demarcate the area around a sacred building. Here they are embellished with ogres and foliage designs carved or moulded in white stucco. The pediment over the arched entrance also features stucco decoration of makaras (mythical sea serpents), lions, and a celestial being from the Burmese pantheon.

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