Phoongyees worshipping [Burma]
Photographer: Watts and Skeen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Buddhist monks or pongyis kneeling at prayer before an image of the Buddha, taken by Watts and Skeen in the 1890s, part of the Curzon Collection.
This is a view of a shrine, with the conical form of a stupa rising behind it. Theravada or Doctrine of Elders is a school of Buddhism which draws scriptural direction from the Pali Canon or Tipitaka, acknowledged to be the oldest record of Buddha's teachings. Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion of Burma, prevailing from the 11th century. The sangha or Buddhist order of monks and nuns is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism or Triratna (the other two being the Buddha and the Dhamma or doctrine). The Buddhist monk lives by a strict disciplinary code and renounces all possessions except those permitted such as alms bowls and robes. He relies on the generosity of the laity for his subsistence. In Burma where there is the custom of many men becoming monks for a short period in their lifetime, there is a close relationship between the sangha and the lay community and almost every village supports a monastery through alms.