The Ananda Temple at Pagan

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Item Code: NAL462
Author: Chas Duroisell
Language: English
Edition: 1999
Pages: 76 (28 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.5 inch x 8.5 inch
Weight 420 gm
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Book Description

This Memoir is one of the series of monographs on the Ananda Temple at Pagan whose iconographic and monographs on the Anada Temple at Pagan whose iconographic and epigraphic treasures are so numerous that they could not be treated adequately in a single monograph. The present Memoir deals with the architectural details and other features noticeable in the temple which have not been already adequately dealt with elsewhere; and a few important facts regarding the life of its founder, King Kyanzittha (1084-1112 A.D.), and some events connected with the temple itself are added by way of introduction. I am glad of the opportunity afforded here of acknowledging the assistance rendered by U May, my former assistant and successor now retired, in writing this Memoir; his views on certain points have been incorporated in the following pages.



The Ananda, a most important monument in Burma; its architectural, sculptural and epigraphical aspects.
The Ananda temple at Pagan has long been held the most interesting monument in Burma, and is famed all over the land as one of its national glories. Apart from its outstanding religious importance, it is a unique store-house of stone sculptures and terra-cotta bas-reliefs of the late mediaeval period. The short legends in Old Mon impressed on the plaques which adorn its basement and upper terraces, are of great epigraphical and philological value, and above all, its architecture is of exceptional interest. The sculptures and the plaques I have already dealt with separately in two papers: “The Stone Sculptures in the Ananda Temple at Pagan”, and “The Talaing plaques on the Ananda”

Kyanzittha,its founder.
The purpose of the present memoir is to give a complete survey of the temple from the architectural point of view. But, before we enter into details, it may be of some interest to add here, by way of interest to add here, by way of introduction, a few important facts regarding the life of its royal founder, who is commonly as Kyanzittha (spelt Kyan-cac-sa), and some events connected with the temple itself.

Legendary account of Kyanzittha’s birth; his names and titles.
There is a popular legend attached attached to the name Kyan-zit-tha or Kyan-yit-the with another variant Kalan-it-the, which is found in almost every publication in Burmese containing an account of his life. According to it, Kyanzittha was born of a Vesali princess, a discarded queen of king Anoratha, at Pareinma, now village in the Sagaing District, on the banks of the Chindwin river. It having been foretold that a child would be born who become king, Anoratha became anxious and three times had a search made throughout his kingdom for young children, whom he put to death in order to eliminate his future rival, but on each occasion kyanzittha somehow escaped death. When he became a monk in the customary way, it was again foretold that the future king had entered the Buddhist Order, and on the advice of his astrologers, the monarch invited to his palace the young monks in his kingdom and distributed food to them. Kyanzittha was among them; and one day, as the king gave him water to drink, a certain sign appeared in his mouth; the king, seized with astonishment, let the vessel fall from his hand; thus was recognized the monk he was in search of. But again, on being asked whether kyanzittha would deprive the king of his throne, the astrologers answered that he would become king only long after Anoratha’s death The king them relented, and as he was his own son, took pity on him, made him enter his service, and named him kyanzittha or kyanyittha, which mean the first “he who survived the search” and the second, “he who was left over”, that is, escaped the massacres. He is also known as Htilaing (Dhilaing) shin or Htilaing (Dhilaing) Min (Chief or Lord of Htilaing). Htilaing is a place-name; a village is still so called in the Myingyan District. The name Kyan-zit-the (kyan-cac-sa) has a close connection, phonetically, with kalan-cac-sa. The, I think, earliest notice we have of him under an ordinary name an ordinary name or title is Htilaing min (Htiluin Man), which is found in a Burmese inscription dated 1107 A.D. In another Burmese inscription, which on palaeographical and other grounds may be placed towards the later part of the 14th century A.D., he is styled as Htilaing-ashin-kalan-zittha. The word “kalan” is distinctly used in old inscriptions, Mon as well as Burmese, with the meanings of “minister”, “officer”, governor”. Sit-the (pronounced zit-tha) means “soldier, warrior”. Thus the name kalan-zit-the, may simply mean a “minister-warrior”. Burmese chronicles all fully bear out the fact that kyanzittha was a minister as well as a warrior of Anoratha (1044-1077 A.D.), and of Sawlu (1077-1084). He was evidently also the governor of a district before he became king. Having been born at Pareinma, he was also known as Pareinmasittha. Other details concerning the life of Kyanzittha have been discussed by me and Blagden and they need not repeated here.

In his own inscriptions, composed in Mon (he seems to have preferred this language to his own, at least for lithic records), he is known as: Sri Tribhuvana-dityadhammaraja or Sri Tribhuvana-dityadhammaraja-Paramisvara-balacakkravar. He professed at first the faith of the Ari, a medley of Naga worship, native superstitions and Mahayanism of the Vajrayana school, but became, with his father and his people, a firm adherent to the Theravada Buddhism imported from Thaton after its conquest in 1056-57 A.D. He boasted that during his reign “all those in his realm who were heretical became orthodox”. He ascended the throne in 1084-85, probably at a fairly advanced age, and ruled for 28 years.

No contemporary epigraph the regarding the foundation of the Ananda.
He built a palace and, during its erection, resided “in a pavilion that was like unto Vejayanta”. According to the “Glass Palace Chronicle”, he worshipped the spirits when he ascended the throne; he dug tanks, repaired old monuments, and did many other meritorious works; but, curiously enough, no mention is made in any of his lithic records regarding the foundation of the Ananda temple, and this is surprising, considering it is the most beautiful temple in Pagan, and the king’s fondness for recording events on stone.

In my paper on “The Stone Sculptures in the Ananda Temple at Pagan” I gave a short historical account of the Ananda based on Mr. Blagden’s rendering of the Mon Inscription No. IX. But later study of this inscription by the same scholar has, however, revealed the fact that it is not concerned with the construction and dedication of a temple, but the very elaborate ceremonial connected with the building of the king’s palace at pagan. Of this palace, no traces now remain; this is due to the fact that all secular monuments were built of wood, as may still be seen in the Mandalay Palace. Yet, although no contemporary mention of this temple has up to the present come to light, tradition has, through the centuries, persisted in attributing its foundation to Kyanzittha, and every available record affirms the same. In the circumstances it is reasonable to assume that the inscription-if really there was any-recording the building of the Ananda, has crumbled to pieces or otherwise disappeared. In the compound of the Museum at Pagan there are some large pieces of stone, which are parts of one or two inscriptions, and which, according to some elders, were brought there many years ago from somewhere in the vicinity of the Ananda; on these fragments-there were more of them some twenty-five years ago-may still be faintly seen some letters here and there; the rest have disappeared; as far as can be judged the language was Mon. These perhaps constitute the lost record.




The Ananda, a most important monument in Burma; its architectural, sculptural and epigraphical aspects 1
Kyanzittha, its founder 1
Legendary account of Kyanzittha’s birth; his names and titles 1
No contemporaty epigraph regarding the foundation of Ananda 3
The date of the foundation of the Ananda, and examination of epigraphical and sculptural data bearing on this question 4
Legendary accounts of the building of the Ananda 4
A search for the prototype of the Ananda 4
Architects employed in the building of the Ananda 9
A Descriptive Account of Ananda  
Plan of the Ananda 9
Glazed terra-cotta plaques round the base of the Ananda 10
Other noticeable features in the Ananda 11
Series of stone sculptures in the Ananda 11
Four colossal images of Buddha 12
Stone portraits of king kyanzittha and his preceptor Shin Arahan 13
Buddhapads 13
Images of Buddha,etc, inside the porches 13
Arched vaults over porches, corridors, etc 14
Ogee roofs 15
Glazed terra-cotta plaques in the walls the terraces 15
Absence of main stairs in the thickness of walls in the Ananda 16
The main Sikhara over the temple 16
Arched gateways 16
The universal use of pointed arch in the radiating form in the temples at Pagan 16
Ornamental arches 17
Conclusion 18
Index 21-24


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