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Arakan period: 575 - 1948

The ancient Arakan kingdom was located in the west of Burma in the now called Rakhine state. With four dynastic eras; Dhanyawaddy, Vesali, Laymro and Mrauk-U, Arakan is thought to have been an independent nation for over 5,000 years until it was conquered by the Burmese (Ava) in 1784. At its peak the kingdom was taking tribute from as far away as Mushidabad, India in the west to the Mon capital of Pegu in the east and much of lower Burma. There are still hundreds of ancient pagodas, temples, shrines and Buddha statues located in Arakan, especially in the old capital, Mrauk-U. The most famous of these works is the Mahamuni Buddha Image but that is now in Mandalay in central Burma.

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Buddha images from the Arakan period

The faces of the Buddha images from the Arakan period are strongly influenced by Pali art. In these images, the Buddha’s face was angled down and the fingers are in the Bhumisparsha mudra. Arakan Buddha images were mostly sitting in the crossed – legged position. Their crowned Buddha images (Jambupati) have a shorter crown wing and rope details. The most striking feature of Arakanese art is the larger size of the Ushnisha on top of the Buddha’s head.