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Burmese Buddha Art Arakan

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Burmese Buddha art Arakan – Myanmar was highly influenced by its neighbors Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as can be seen in the bronze Royal King Buddha statues referred to as “Jambhupati”, or “Royal King Buddha”, as they often show elements of some of the Buddhist iconography of India.

Arakan history suggests that Buddhism was introduced into Rakhine state during the lifetime of the Buddha in 563 BCE., although there are several other suggested dates.

The local chronicles of Arakan mention the Indo Aryan people from the Ganges Valley as the founders of the cities of Dhanyawadi and Vesali the two most important capital cities before 1000 A.D. According to local chronicles Dhanyawadi was the main capital up to 350 or 370 A.D., and Vesali from 788 to 957 A.D., although it continued as a capital until 1018 A.D. According to some scholars Vesali was a larger and more thriving port than Dhanyawadi.

Dhanyawadi and Vesali were the last two Royal Arakan capitals, they were unique in that they occupied a narrow valley between the Kaladan and Lemro rivers about 16 miles apart. The Chronicles note that the earliest people who occupied Rakhine were Negritos, they were referred to as “Bilis” (cannibals), the direct descendants of Neolithic people.

Most kings during this early period bore the title of Suriya or Canda. The most notable of Buddhist kings during the life time of the Buddha, King Canda Suriya was said to have met with the Buddha on Selargiri hill, whereupon he invited the Buddha to his home, the story relates that the Buddha stayed for seven days. When the Buddha was ready to go the King asked him if he would leave an image of himself, the Buddha agreed.

At the king’s request and with the consent of The Buddha a cast of the enlightened one “Buddha” was made, this image is the famous Mahamuni. The king erected the Mahamuni shrine on Sirigutta hill which commemorated The Buddha’s visit, this image now resides in the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay, now covered in several inches of gold leaf which makes it unrecognizable from the image that was first created.

This is purely legend, some scholars today state that The Buddha never actually set foot on Burmese soil.

In Mrauk-Oo (Mrauk-U) today there is a small museum displaying much of what is left from that period and no doubt there is still much to be discovered and would have to be an archaeologists dream.

Dhannyawadi B.C. 325-A.D. 326 The First Dhannyawadi

King Marayu B.C. 3325 – 1483

The Second Dhannyawadi

King Kanrazagree B.C. 1483-580

The Third Dhannyawadi

B.C. 580- A.D. 326

King Chandra Suriya – Gautama Buddha, Himself, visited Dhannyawadi and the Great Image of Mahamuni was cast. Coins were introduced as currency during this period in Arakan.

Vesali – Lemro – A.D. 327 – 1430

Vesali Kyauk Hlayga

King Dvan Chandra A.D. 327 – 794

Sambawak A.D. 794- 818

Prince Nga Tong Mong (Saw Shwe Lu)


A.D. 818 -1430

King Nga Tone MunThis period was the highest civilisation in the Bay and highly prosperous with busy international trade with the west. Pyinsa, Purain, Taung Ngu,  Narinsara and Laungkrat. Cities flourished, gold and silver coinage was used in trade relations in Arakan during this period.

Golden Mrauk-U – 1430 – 1784

King Mun Saw Mwan A.D. 1430 – 1530

Second Golden Mrauk
A.D. 1530 – 1638 Solidified by King Mun Bun (Mun Ba Gri)Arakan reached its zenith of national unity and was very powerful in this region during this period.
Third Golden Mrauk-U Period

Mrauk-u Rakhine State

Overlooking Mrauk-u at sunrise – Rakhine State, Myanmar

Sitwe museum
Beautiful Buddha museum in Sittwe. Town where one catches the boat up river (6 hours) to Mrauk-U
Boat to Sittwe
Boat to Mrauk-U

Burmese Buddha Art Arakan


Koe-Thoung Temple

Burmese Buddha Art Arakan - Koe-Thoung Temple, built by King Mong Bar Gri in 1553 A.D. Sometimes referred to "Rakhine Borobudur"  in Indonesia.

Koe-Thoung Temple, built by King Mong Bar Gri in 1553 A.D. Sometimes referred to “Rakhine Borobudur” in Indonesia. Thought to have been built in 1571 by King Min Phalaung and stands opposite the Shit-Thaung. The passages are flanked by 179 Buddha images in numerous niches.

Images of the Buddha inside the Hut-Kan-Thein temple
Images of the Buddha inside the Hut-Kan-Thein temple
Pagoda  Mrauk-U
Small Pagoda Mrauk-U
Ratnapon pagoda
Ratnapon pagoda – Mrauk, Built in 1612 by King Min Khamoung and his queen. It is thought to have hoards of gold, jewels and images enshrined within which has led to generations of treasure hunters, but neither they nor earthquakes have succeeded in penetrating its core.