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Kuthodaw Pagoda

Kuthodaw Pagoda (literally Royal Merit, and formally titled Mahalawka Marazein) is a Buddhist stupa, located in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), that contains the world's largest book. It lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and was built during the reign of King Mindon. The stupa itself, which is gilded above its terraces, is 188 feet (57 m) high, and is modelled after the Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung-U near Bagan. In the grounds of the pagoda are 729 kyauksa gu or stone-inscription caves, each containing a marble slab inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka, the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.

Royal merit
Mindon Min had the pagoda built as part of the traditional foundations of the new royal city of Mandalay in 1857. He was later to convene the Fifth Buddhist Synod in 1871, but wanted to leave a great work of merit by having the Tipitaka set in stone for posterity, meant to last five millennia after the Buddha. Construction began in 1860, its hti (umbrella or crown) mounted on 19 July 1862, and the inscriptions were laid open to the public on 4 May 1868. They were arranged in neat rows within three enclosures, 42 in the first, 168 in the middle and 519 in the third. One more stands at the southeast corner of the first enclosure making it 730. Thirty four brick zayats (rest houses) stood all around except on the east side of the pagoda.

The main entrance is from the south through massive but open teak doors ornately carved with floral designs, scrolls, and Deva Nats. It is a covered approach or saungdan as in most Burmese pagodas with frieze paintings under the roof. Between the rows of stone-inscription stupas grow mature star flower trees (Mimusops elengi) that emanate a jasmine-like fragrance to the entire complex. Burmese families may be seen having a picnic in the cool shade under these trees, picking the flowers to make star flower chains for the Buddha or to wear in their hair, or the children playing hide and seek among the rows of stupas. On the southwest inner terrace is one very old tree believed to be 250 years old, its low spreading boughs propped up by supports. The Tree is a star flower tree.

See my photo;
Kuthodaw-Pagoda-250-year-old-star-flower-tree-Nov-2004-00

クドードォパゴダ Kuthodaw Pagoda
マ ンダレーヒル南東のふもとにある「世界最大の書物」と呼ばれているパゴダです。中央にある塔はバガンのシュエズィーゴォンに似ていますが大きくなく、周辺 に730基の小さなパゴダが並んでいます。マンダレーヒルの頂上からその全景が良く見えます。729枚の碑文に仏陀が涅槃に入るまでの説教をまとめた経典 が書かれています。晴れた日には青空、緑の木とパゴダの白さが鮮やかなコントラストを作り、とても美しい風景が見られます。

ミンドン王時代にはマンダレーで第5次仏典結集が行われ、王は2400名の僧を集め、仏典を完全は形で大理石の石版に彫り写す作業をさせました。その1枚 1枚を納め、それが実に729枚にもなりました。730番目の石版には、このパゴダの由来や完成まで6ヵ月間かかったことなどが記されています。

Annexation and desecration
After the annexation of Mandalay by the British in 1885, the walled city with Mandalay Palace became Fort Dufferin, and troops were billeted all around Mandalay Hill in the monasteries, temples and pagodas. They became off-limits to the public and Burmese were no longer allowed to visit their religious sites. One revenue surveyor called U Aung Ban then came up with the idea of appealing direct to Queen Victoria since she had promised to respect all religions practised by her subjects. To their amazement and great joy the British queen promptly ordered the withdrawal of all her troops from religious precincts in 1890. This however turned to great sadness when they found that the pagoda had been looted from the hti, left lying on the ground stripped of its bells, gold, silver, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones, down to the Italian marble tiles from its terraces. The zayats lay in utter ruin and the bricks had been used to build a road for the troops. All the brass bells from all the kyauksa gu stupas were gone, 9 on each making it 6570 in total. The gold ink from the letters as well as the sides and top of each marble slab had also disappeared. All the biloos along the corridors had lost their heads, and the marble eyes and claws from the masonry chinthes gone.

Restoration
A committee of senior monks, members of the royal family and former officers of the king, including Atumashi Sayadaw (the Abbot of Atumashi Monastery), Kinwon Min Gyi U Kaung (chancellor), Hleithin Atwinwun (minister of the royal fleet), Yaunghwe Saopha Sir Saw Maung and Mobyè Sitkè (a general of the royal army), was formed to start restoration works with the help and donations from the families of the original donors according to custom and also from the public in 1892.

It was the sitkè who asked permission from the senior monks to plant the hkayei star flower trees as well as some meze (Madhuca longifolia) trees. Gold letters were replaced with black ink which made it easier to read. The metal htis of the kyauksa gus were replaced with stone paid for by members of the royal family (155), former officers of the royal army (58), Shan Saophas and Myosas (102), and public donations (414). In 1913 Sir Po Tha, a rice trader of Rangoon, had the pagoda repaired and regilded. The next year, the Society of Pitaka Stone Inscriptions gave an iron gate to the south left open as the carved wooden panels had been destroyed by the soldiers. The west gate was donated by the famous zat mintha (theatre performer) Po Sein the Great the following year, and the north and east gates by the children and grandchildren of King Mindon in 1932. In 1919 the hermit U Khandi led the rebuilding of the south and west saungdans

Mandalay Division

Mandalay Division is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is located in the center of the country, bordering Sagaing Division and Magway Division to the west, Shan State to the east, and Bago Division and Kayin State to the south. The regional capital is Mandalay. In the south of the division lies the national capital of Naypyidaw. The division consists of seven districts, which are subdivided into 30 townships and 2,320 wards and village-tracts.

Mandalay Division is important in Burma's economy, accounting for 15% of the national economy.

History
The Tibeto-Burman speaking Pyu were the first historical people to dominate the dry zone in central Myanmar that includes Mandalay Division as early as the 1st century AD. By the early 9th century, the Pyu were decimated in a series of wars with the Nanzhao kingdom from Yunnan. The Burmans, who had been migrating into the region from Yunnan since 7th century, founded a city of their own, Pagan, in 849. The Pagan dynasty slowly came to dominate the central zone over the next two centuries, and by the late 11th century, all of present day Myanmar. The Burmese language and script came to prominence with royal patronage of Pagan kings.

After the fall of Pagan to the Mongols in 1287, parts of central Myanmar came to be controlled by a series of rulers: the Mongols (1287-c.1303), Myinsaing (1298-1312), Pinya (1312-1364), and Sagaing (1315-1364). In 1364, Ava kingdom led by Burmanized Shan kings reunified all of central Myanmar. Central Myanmar was under Ava's control until 1527, and under the Shans of Monhyin (1527-1555). Burmese literature and culture came into its own during this era.

Central Myanmar was part of the Taungoo kingdom from 1555 to 1752. Parts of the region fell briefly to the Mons of Pegu (Bago) (1752-1753). Konbaung Dynasty ruled the region until December 1885 when it lost all of Upper Myanmar in the Third Anglo-Burmese War. The British rule in Upper Myanmar lasted until May 1942 when the Japanese forces captured Mandalay during World War II. The British returned after the war and granted independence the country in January 1948. Upon independence, Mandalay Division ceded Myitkyina and Bhamo districts to the newly formed Kachin State.

Demographics
The majority of the population in Mandalay Division are Bamar (Burmans). In the Mandalay metropolitan area, however, a large community of Chinese, most of whom are recent immigrants from Yunnan, now nearly rival the Bamar population. A large community of Indians also reside in Mandalay. A dwindling community of Anglo-Burmese still exists in both Pyinoolwin and Mandalay. A number of Shan people live along the eastern border of the division.

Burmese is the primary language of the division. However, Mandarin Chinese is increasingly spoken in Mandalay and the northern gem mining town of Mogok.

Economy
Agriculture is the primary economical source of livelihood. Primary crops grown within Mandalay Division are rice, wheat, maise, peanut, sesame, cotton, legumes, tobacco, chilli, and vegetables. Industry, including alcoholic breweries, textile factories, sugar mills, and gem mines also exists. Tourism now forms a substantial part of Mandalay Division's economy, as it contains many historical sites including Mandalay, Amarapura, Bagan, Pyin U Lwin, Mount Popa, and Ava. Hardwoods such as teak and thanaka are also harvested.

Education
Educational opportunities in Myanmar are extremely limited outside the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay. According to official statistics, whose accuracy is highly doubtful at best, over 1 million students were enrolled in the division's 4467 primary and secondary schools in 2005. Although the statistics claim a 15% primary school dropout rate, the real rate is certainly far higher. Indeed, of the nearly 4500 schools, almost 4000 were primary or post-primary schools, while only 234 were middle schools and 227 were high schools.

Still the division has some of the best institutions of higher education in Myanmar. As medical, engineering and computer studies are the most sought after in Myanmar, the University of Medicine, Mandalay, the University of Dental Medicine, Mandalay, Mandalay Technological University, and the University of Computer Studies, Mandalay are among the most selective universities in Myanmar. Other highly selective schools are Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University and military academies in Pyinoolwin: Defence Services Academy and Defence Services Technological Academy.

Health care
The general state of health care in Myanmar is poor. The military government spends anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of the country's GDP on health care, consistently ranking among the lowest in the world. Although health care is nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack many of the basic facilities and equipment.

In 2005, Mandalay Division's public health care system had slightly over 1000 doctors and about 2000 nurses working in 44 hospitals and 44 health clinics. Over 30 of the so-called hospitals had less than 100 beds. Almost all of large public hospitals and private hospitals as well as doctors are in Mandalay. (These dismal numbers are believed to have improved by the advent of Naypyidaw as the nation's capital in 2006 although the level of improvement remains unreported.) The well-to-do bypass the public health system and go to private clinics in Mandalay or Yangon in order to 'get quick medical attention and high-quality service'. The wealthy routinely go abroad (usually Bangkok or Singapore) for treatment.

Web References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandalay_Division


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