The Queen's Golden Monastery, [Mandalay]
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Queen’s Kyaung or Monastery in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer in 1903 under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of Burma at the time. The walled city of Mandalay was Burma’s last great royal capital and was founded in 1857 by Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78), Burma’s penultimate king, in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill. As a consequence of royal patronage there were many religious foundations in the city and a wealth of monastic architecture. The Queen’s Golden
Monastery shown in this view was constructed on the orders of Queen Supayalat in 1885. It was barely completed when she was exiled to India with her husband Thibaw, the last king of Burma (reigned 1878-1885), following the annexation of Upper Burma by the British Empire. Now destroyed, the monastery stood inside the palace grounds and was a magnificent wooden building lavishly decorated with ornate woodcarving and mirrored glass mosaics. It follows the traditional plan of a Burmese monastery, consisting of pavilions raised on piles, surrounded by a veranda with flights of masonry steps descending at the cardinal points of the compass. The buildings are crowned with tiered roofs, and a spire known as a pyatthat marking the main shrine room. These were symbolic forms demarcating sacred space and were restricted to royal and religious architecture.