Amarapura period: 1789 - 1853
Situated about 11 kilometres south of Mandalay, Amarapura is an ancient capital of the Konbaung Dynasty. The modern town of Amarapura is often referred to as Taungmyo, "the Southern City", to distinguish it from Mandalay, the northern city. The old name "Amarapura" means "the City of Immortality". Amarapura was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783. In 1823, King Bagyidaw moved the capital city to Inwa and in 1841 Amarapura again became the capital. In 1857, King Mindon decided to make Mandalay the capital and the change over was completed in 1860. There are several places of interest in this ancient city which was also the site for the first British Embassy in Myanmar in 1795 and the largest teak wood 1.2 km long U Bein Wooden Bridge built over the seasonal Taung Thaman lake in 1786. Its royal palace, great temples, and fortifications are now in ruins but the pagodas, temples and monasteries remain. The Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura is the religious centre, where over 700 monks attend to their religious duties.
Buddha statues from the Amarapura period
Buddha images / statues from this period are called “Pra Nong” in Thailand.
In actual fact the Amarapura style is a distinctive form of Burmese art which has never before been defined. Through King Bodawpaya’s demand that the Arakanese sacred image, the Mahamuni Buddha be brought to and installed in the royal shrine at Amarapura, his newly founded capital the legacy of Arakan is prominent during this period. The Mahamuni Buddha became the most sacred image of Burma and its muscular torse influenced the Buddha images that were made during this period. Crown Buddha images (Jambupati) and those made from metal or paper mache / lacquerware were rare in Amarapura art. Instead, images were usually made of wood and gilded with gold leaf, covered with red lacquer and painted with red colour and decorated with white glass inlays. The face was round and a bit plump and resembled that of the Mahamuni Buddha, was turned downwards. A distinctive feature of these Buddha images was the circular pattern on the robe, shins and knees.
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The image and its history
Art, Architecture and Design of Burma
Burmese Buddhist Sculpture
The Johan Möger Collection