Mandalay period: 1853 - 1948
Mandalay was considered the center of the Buddhist universe in Myanmar. King Mindon moved the capital from Amarapura to this new site and called it the city of Mandalay. Tradition maintains that Gautama Buddha visited the sacred peak of Mandalay Hill with his disciple Ananda, and proclaimed that on the 2400th anniversary of his death, a metropolis of Buddhist learning would be founded on the plain below the hill. The political center of this new city had the perfect geometrical form of a Buddhist Mandala, for which the city was named, Mandalay.
The Mandalay period ends at the time when the Burmese gained its independence from the British.
Buddha statues from the Mandalay period
Youthful, sweet-faced image of the Buddha wearing a robe elaborately folded, edged and decorated often with inset mirror glass, has attained great popularity and become known as the ”Mandalay Buddha”. For many people, it came to epitomize the Burmese representation of the Buddha. Mandalay Buddha statues often have a broad band across the forehead. The hair hugs the head in tight curls and covers a broad prominent ushnisha. There is no lotus finial above. The images are frequently seated in the Bhumisparsa mudra and the left lying in the lap. The uttarasanga is worm in the open mode and the sanghati is folded decoratively on the left shoulder. Wood, alabaster and bronze have been the favoured materials. Many Buddha statues are lacquered and gilded, including the face and body. Most standing Buddha images wear the uttarasanga in the closed mode, covering the arms and chest and held at each side of the lower body by downward-stretched hands. Below, at its lower centre, appears the antaravasaka. The sanghati flows in multitudinous folds from the left shoulder. In his right hand the Buddha holds the medicinal myrobalan fruit.
Discover more about
The image and its history
Art, Architecture and Design of Burma
Burmese Buddhist Sculpture
The Johan Möger Collection