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View of the Shwethalyaung image, [Pegu].

View of the Shwethalyaung image, [Pegu].

Medium: Photographic print

Shelfmark: Photo 1004/2(835)

Item number: 835

Length: 21.4

Width: 28.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Shwethalyaung Buddha near Pegu (Bago), Burma (Myanmar), from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1907-13. The photograph was taken by an unknown photographer of the Burma Archaeological Survey.

Bago, the fourth largest city in Burma, is about 80 kms north-east of Rangoon and was once ancient Hanthawadi, the capital of a Mon kingdom. It is said to have been founded in the 6th century by two Mon princes from Thaton, but achieved its greatest prosperity in the later Mon dynastic period of 1369-1539. To Europeans, it was the important seaport of Pegu. Today little remains of its regal past.

Outside the city is a great image of the reclining Buddha (Shwethalyaung), 54 m long and originally sculpted in the 10th century. The image is 16 ms high and is housed in a spacious iron tazaung or hall. The huge Buddha in relaxed mode was originally built of brick and stucco but deteriorated and was almost lost after the ravaging of Bago in 1757 by King Alaungpaya who desired to vanquish the resurgent Mon. Hidden by jungle, it was accidentally discovered in the 1880s during the British construction of the railways. It was restored and a Calcutta engineering company built the tazaung that shelters it.

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