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Photographer's Note

This is the view of the Koe Thaung Temple in Mrauk U that I like most. After my last post you can imagine it better.

From:
http://www.rakhapura.com/scholars-column/29-the-excavations-at-koe-thaung.html

The Koe-Thaung is square in plan, measuring about seventy-seven meters on each side. The outer body of the shrine comprised five receding terraces each ornamented with to 108 small pagodas, its central image was approached via a two-tiered stairway on the east side. The first tier reaches a wide open platform from which two ambulatory passages, similar in concept to those of the Shitthaung and Htukkant-Thein, can be entered. These passages were originally vaulted, and enough remains to allow us to observe the technique. These passage ways are connected with further passages in the middle of the north, west and south sides. The second tier of the entrance stair-way leads to an upper platform having at its centre a large stone Buddha image seated on an ornate throne. Behind this image is an octagonal brick stupa which would have contained the holy relics enshrined when the pagoda was built.

The sculptures on the wall of the passageways depict nothing but identical seated Buddhas, in relief or in the round. All are seated cross legged, right over left, with the right hand touching the ground in the attitude called bhumisparsa mudra, which represents Buddha calling the earth to the witness his victory over the temptations of the demon Mara, the personification of the world desire. Their placement has been determined by Arakanese numerology. Whether large, small or in relief, their grouping are all connected with the number nine in this shrine of 90,000 images. For instance, in the excavated southeast section of the outer passage there are nine life sized Buddhas, each sitting on waisted throne divided into three sections horizontally and three sections vertically, nine in all. Behind each of the images is a stepped niche where smaller images, also in round, are found. No doubt these too were originally placed in groups associated with the number nine in between each of these are panels of bas-relief. According to Arakanese numerological practice at the time, forty five can have the value of five plus four; nine.

Such places as Shwedagon, Bagan or Mrauk U deserve to be on the UNESCO heritage list but they aren't. It has something to do with the quality (bad) of restauration works.

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4652 W: 76 N: 11366] (68624)
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