The Shoay Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon
Photographer: Jackson, J.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon (Yangon), taken by J. Jackson in c.1868, part of an album of 43 views of Burma (Myanmar) from the Sladen Collection. The Shwe Dagon is Burma’s most revered Buddhist temple. It is of ancient origin, according to legend founded in the 6th century BC when two merchant brothers encountered the Buddha and received eight of his hairs which they took back to Burma and enshrined. Its documented history begins from the 14th century from which date successive Burmese rulers embellished it. The main shrine is built in the characteristic Burmese form of stupa or zedi (a solid structure containing sacred relics, precious stones or images of the Buddha), and is gilded a bright and dazzling gold. It stands on a terraced platform on Singuttara Hill, surrounded by many other shrines and pavilions. This is a general view of the stupa from the platform. Its bell-shaped body narrows to a pointed spire culminating in a hti or umbrella, and rests on a series of square and octagonal terraces. The stupa is surrounded by sixty-four satellite stupas (the smaller conical structures) and by statues of manuthihas (sphinxes) and chinthes (leogryphs), traditional guardian figures of Burmese temples.