Cultural and Tradition

cultural-01Our country, Myanmar known as the land of pagodas. Accordingly there are many Buddha images and they can be seen at every pagoda and at the houses of all Buddhist, who worship at their family altars. So Buddha images are one of the most intriguing and can be distinguished according to the position.

The forms of the images vary from one period to another. In Myanmar, Bagan dynasty was the time when art was most flourishing in monument buildings, especially the religious ones. In that period from the king to the people, donated and built Temples, Stupas and Images to worship. All the donors believed and considered that the making and donation of images to be a particularly meritorious deed. In this way many images come to be made.

cultural-02When Buddha attained his Nirvana, there were no Buddha image to worship and only symbolic worship. It is assumed that the custom of sculpture and worship of Buddha images started from the Kushan dynasty in India (1st AD) where the Buddha attained his enlightenment. At the later period of Kushan dynasty, the Iconography arrived together with the Buddhism from Amaravati to Srikshetra of Pyu Dynasty. So that the images in former Bagan period were influenced by the style of Pala dynasty. In Bagan, there can be seen the Buddha images made with bronze, sand, stone, wood, and other materials. First are standing or sitting positions on the lotus throne. All the terra-cotta tablets, which were found in Bagan, have marked the names of the donors, from the king to the normal people, is a common custom.

cultural-03Among the Buddha images of Bagan, the handiworks of casting bronze images were the ideal from of those days. In standing position, the bronze image is from 11th century. In these images of the Unisha, the hair-knot over the head of Buddha with curly hairs can be seen obviously. The ear lop are not touching the shoulders and it is the difference from nowadays. The face is oval to triangular and well formed fore head, downcast eyes, aquiline nose, small mouth and pointed chin. The body with broad shoulders and chesty tapering to a narrow waist and high-cheek bones. The limbs of the Body and even the navel can be seen clearly. The robe is in the transparent form, so that the images is wet in appearances and effeminate aspect, clothing appears to be clinging to the body, folding of the gown is confined to the periphery. A line below the navel marks the lower garment and the double wavy line at the ankle level shows the hem. Hand positions, the right hand raised to line up to the chest and all fingers directed up- words and it is called the Abya mudra. The left hand is placed downward with the palm turned to the front and holding the lapel and it is called Varada mudra. Abaya mudra means for the assurance of protection from danger and Varada mudra signifies the bestowal of benediction by the lord .The auspicious circular marks are on both hands, and the length of the fingers are not the same, it is difference from today. I assume that the beautifully molded fingers with the graceful hands are lead to the zenith of the sculpture of the image. It is assumed that the style of Buddha images, sculptured with clear body to reveal the distinctive body features of theBuddha.

cultural-04Now, we come to the sitting Buddha images most are seated on the lotus throne and with Bhumipassa mudra. These images also made with bronze from Bagan at 11th century. This image of the body style like as the standing one. The hand is in Bhumipassa. The right hand rests on the right knee with palm inside the fingers touching the earth while the left palm turning up words rests on the lap. This mudra illustrates that while Buddha attained his Enlightenment, Mara, the evil attacked him to occupy the seat. So the lord Buddha vowed and called the goodness of the earth to prove the meritorious deeds done in his circle of rebirth to become a Buddha. Lines of the clothing shown by the diagonal line form left shoulder passing under the right breast and arm. The sitting position on the form of lotus petal, it reveals two soles and auspicious circles can be seen on it. But some of the images are ornamented with coronation regalia such as crested headdress.

Summing up, the Bagan Buddha images, influenced by the workmen ship of Pala dynasty, were mixed with the Indian and western styles. The western styles is favored the material cultural. The face are looked like the European style, because of the Iconography started from Greece and in some sand images even the nipple can be seen clearly. After the Bagan period, the features of robe cover the body because regards as it could be the sensual effect. But the images changed to the form and style of nowadays in course of time. Because of the images are largely depending on the own style of the artist and his way of life.

No matter whatsoever, actually, the images of the Bagan period not only shows the Iconography but also the beliefs, prosperities, spirits, standard of art and living, and can be known how they did meritorious deeds. They are historical evidences and on the other hand images are cultural and tradition of Buddhism of Bagan dynasty.

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