Sandamuni Pagoda – The Twin Sibling of Kuthodaw
14 Jun 2019 by Admin
Located at the foot of Mandalay Hill, with the view over many appealing sites in Mandalay, the Sandamuni Pagoda is widely recognized as the home to a large gilded chedi, more than one thousand shrines housing inscribed marble slabs (a feature which may remind you of the nearby Kuthodaw Pagoda) and the biggest iron Buddha statue in Myanmar, the image of Sandamuni Buddha.
An Overview of the Pagoda Complex
Sandamuni Pagoda was constructed as a monument in memory of Crown Prince Kanaung. The Prince was assassinated in 1966 by two other sons of King Mindon Min, who were resentful towards the prince because the King chose Kanaung to ascend the throne, instead of them. Not only that, the three sons of Prince Kanaung was also murdered and, together with the prince, their bodies were entombed on the ground of Sandamuni Pagoda. In the very last years of the 20th century, the tombs were relocated to a mausoleum in Mandalay.
The Gilded Chedi in Sandamuni Pagoda
The Gilded Chedi in Sandamuni Pagoda
The gilded chedi is the first structure to be built on the ground of the pagoda complex. This structure was constructed in 1874 by the order of King Mindon Min on the location of his provisional Palace in the time the construction of the nearby Royal Palace was being carried out. The Chedi is situated right in the heart of the pagoda complex where the shaded paths leading all the way through thousands of small shrines gather together. Structurally, the most outstanding feature of the gilded pagoda is a conical stupa whose pedestal is a three-tiered receding square terrace. The golden stupa is crowned with a hti, an umbrella shaped multi-tiered ornamental spire, which can be seen in many pagodas across Myanmar.
1774 Shrines containing inscribed marble slabs
The collection of 1774 small white shrines, each of which houses only one meticulously engraved marble slab, encircles the gilded chedi in the heart of the pagoda complex. The teachings of Gautama Buddha, which is conveyed through the three constituents of the Tripitaka (namely Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma and the Vinaya Pitaka), together with the legends and explanations are carefully carved on marble slabs.
Identically, each marble slab has the height of 1.68 meters and the width of 1.07 meters. They are all contained in small-sized white shrines which are called Dhamma ceti. Analytically, the word ‘Dhamma’ means the teachings of Gautama Buddha and ‘ceti’ is the equivalent of chedi and stupa in the tongue of Burmese.
The Forest of White Stupas in Sandamuni Pagoda
All white shrines are crowned with hti, umbrella-shaped multi-tiered adorning spires, which are very common in the decoration of Buddhist structures, especially that of pagodas. The shrines in Sandamuni Pagoda are positioned with a higher density than Kuthodaw Pagoda. For this reason, the field of Sandamuni Pagoda is relatively confined with little gap between the rows of Dhamam cetis.
Almost half a century after the construction of the central chedi were the Dhama cetis built. The construction of the Dhamma cetis was carried out in 1913 by a hermit named U Khanti, who is widely acknowledged across Myanmar for having revamped various temples and pagodas in this Buddhist country.
The Iron Buddha Image in Sandamuni Pagoda
Sandamuni Pagoda Enshrines the Biggest Iron Buddha Image in Myanmar
The image of Sandamuni Buddha, known far and wide as the biggest iron Buddha Image in Myanmar, is enshrined in Sandamuni Pagoda. The statue was made by the order of King Bodawpaya, under the Konbaung dynasty in 1802. It is cast in the posture of Bhumisparsha mudra or ‘calling the earth to witness’. Made of approximately 18.5 tons of iron, the statue is now coated with a layer of gold leaf. The image was originally placed in Amarapura, a former capital of Burmese Kingdom, which was just several miles to the Southwest of Mandalay. Then it was relocated to the present location and placed in a worship hall.
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