The SHWEZIGON PAGODA or SHWEZIGON PAYA
(ရွှေစည်းခုံဘုရား) is a Buddhist
temple located in
Nyaung-U , a town near
This pagoda , a
* 1 Location * 2 History * 3 Features * 4 References * 5 Bibliography * 6 External links
Chronicles of the Kings of Burma have attributed that King Anawrahta
(r. 1044–77) (who was converted to the Theravada
The pagoda was then completed by his son King Kyansittha
(r.1084–1113). While its lower terraces were built by Anawrahta, the
balance structure is credited to Kyansittha. Its final completion date
is 1086 and the footprints below the four standing Buddha statues here
are also believed to be of the same period. The pagoda is a replica
of the pyramidal
Mahabodhi Temple at
Bodh Gaya , the location of
Buddha’s illuminating realisation in India.
The pagoda has been damaged by earthquakes and other natural calamities over the centuries, and has been refurbished from time to time. A notable renovation was carried out by King Bayinnaung (r. 1551–1581) during late 16th century. In the 1975 earthquake there was considerable damage to the spire and the dome necessitating large renovation. It is now substantially strengthened with covering of more than 30,000 copper plates, which were donated by local and international devotees; gilding of the dome has been done during 1983–1984 and again in recent times. However, the pagoda's bottom level terraces have remained mostly in their original form.
The pagoda, a prototype of Burmese stupas, is like a bell-shaped
stupa in traditional Mon architectural style , which became the
prototype architectural feature for many stupas built in the then
Burma (now Myanmar). It has features of staircases, gates, and a
richly ornamented spire fitted with a large golden umbrella type
finial embedded with gems. The relics that are believed to be
enshrined in the pagoda are Buddha's collar-bone and his frontal bone
Prome , and his tooth from
The pagoda, which rises with five square terraces has a central solid
core. The terraces rise steeply in the form of a pyramid topped with
umbrellas or chatris. The entire edifice, from the base to the tip,
appears like a cone. From the four cardinal directions there are steps
from the base to the terraces at the centre to provide access to
devotees to go up for worship; these terraces are fitted with
instructions on slabs narrating events from the life of Buddha and
At the entrance to the pagoda there are huge statues of guardians of the temple, known as chinthes which are leoglyphs (lion shaped glyphs ). Out of the four entrances to the pagoda only the southern and western ones are in use. There are 550 glazed terra-cotta tiles inscribed with the Jataka tales fixed on three of the five terraces of the pagoda; the earlier count was 584 tiles of which some are not found now. The four flights of steps which provide access to the terraces leading to an octagonal platform over which the gilded stupa has been built. At the four corners of the top most terrace, smaller replicas of the main pagoda are affixed at their back side, fitted with four gilded kalashas or vases; similar replicas are also fixed at the corners in the lower terraces. At the base of the pagoda there are containers fitted closely and set in series, which have gilded bronze castings of plants and flowers, with alms bowls carved in stone in between. Around the exterior periphery of the pagoda there are several temples and wooden pavilions decorated with the pyatthat (multi-tiered and spired roofs).
The pagoda houses footprints of Buddha. There are four bronze standing statues of Buddha which are 12 to 13 feet (3.7 to 4.0 m) in height, which are stated to be of the current age Buddha deified on the four sides of the temple; these four are Kakusandha in the northern face, Konagamana in the eastern wall, Kassapa in the southern wall and the Gautama Buddha to the west wall. All of these Buddhas are cast in beaten bronze and seen with their right hand in a posture of abayamudra , meaning "the fear not gesture" and left hand holding the monk's robe. Below the Buddha Kassapa statue there are a pair of footprints intricately carved on sandstone slab; these were carved from a large "Bodhi-leaf-shaped" slab. They have engravings of a chakra at the centre, which is considered an auspicious symbol. Devotees offer oblations to the footprints through a rectangular wedge created at the rear of the stone slab. The placing of the footprints gives the viewers an impression of Buddha walking towards them.
* ^ A B SK 2011 , p. 147.
* ^ A B C D "Shwezigon