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Mon period: 4th century - 1948

Mon kingdom, also called Hanthawaddy Kingdom, kingdom of the Mon people, was powerful in Burma from the 9th - 11th and from the 13th - 16th century and for a brief period in the mid-18th century. The Mon migrated southward from western China and settled in the Chao Phraya River basin (of southern Thailand) in the 6th century ad. There, they were strongly influenced by Khmer civilization. After the Mon moved westward into the Irrawaddy River delta of southern Myanmar in the ensuing centuries, they acquired Theravada Buddhism, their state religion, from Ceylon and South India, and they adopted the Indian Pali script. By 825 they had firmly established themselves in southern and southeastern Myanmar and founded the cities of Pegu and Thaton. The Mon are considered to be the most ancient ethnic group of the Suvarnabhumi region. In around the 8th to 11th centuries, the Mon Kingdom was the most influential of all the kingdoms of Myanmar having become the most developed and prosperous civilization in the region. It played an important role in the spread of Buddhism. The Mon are still centred in southeastern Myanmar, though their numbers are small compared to those of the ethnic Burmans.

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Buddha statues from the Mon period

The Mon of these times used mainly alabaster, stone and bronze to make Buddha statues. Most Buddha images were seated in the folded-leg position. They are mostly shown in the Bhumisparsha mudra, with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground. A difference between the Mon gesture and the Burmese Bhumisparsha mudra was the length of the fingers, with the Mon gesture showing them much shorter. The most important differences between a Mon image and a Burmese Buddha image are the shape of the face and the way of casting. The metal used was brighter in comparison to the Burmese Buddha images.