SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Building the City of Dhamma: Mindon's founding of Mandalay in the face of adversity

Francois Tainturier (SOAS)

Date: 3 December 2008Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 3 December 2008Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

This paper examines the nature of King Mindon's extensive building programme for Mandalay at the time of its founding against the backdrop of preceding Konbaung royal capitals (Shwebo, Ava and Amarapura). The argument here proposed is that the founding of Mandalay is not so much equated with the building of the royal palace and its shwe myodaw as was the case in the preceding Konbaung capitals than with the building of an outer city, hsin kye hpoun and its extensive building programme of Buddhist relics and structures. To support this view, this paper will examine how King Mindon's building programme was designed to: (1) make the 'presence' of the Buddha ubiquitous and conspicuous throughout the city; (2) provide the population with a network of infrastructures aimed at improving their welfare and facilitating their engagement with religion; (3) and establish the new royal capital as one of the main centres for scholarship in the Buddhist world. This study draws on field and archival data gathered in Mandalay and Yangon since October 2007.

Organiser: Dr Crispin Branfoot and Dr Elizabeth Moore

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