Tag Archives: buddhist architecture

The Stupas of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos

When visiting Southeast Asia, you will find a dazzling assortment of different religious buildings. None are more iconic than the stupas built to hold relics. In Thailand they are called chedis, in Myanmar, zedis… and in Laos, that. They are remarkable structures worthy of further investigation.

Stupas trace their history back to pre-Buddhist burial mounds, but they came into their own and developed after the passing of the Buddha, whose remains were buried in ten mounds. Later, more permanent structures started to be built to house relics such as the 3rd century BCE Great Stupa at Sanchi in India.

Sanchi. (Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sanchi1_N-MP-220.jpg)
Sanchi. (Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sanchi1_N-MP-220.jpg)

The original meaning was retained and the Sanskrit word stūpa literally means heap.

The Burmese, Thai and Lao all have styles that come as a result of the transmission of Theravāda Buddhism from Sri Lanka. One of the most common style of chedi in Thailand is the Lanka-style bell chedi. Interestingly, this bell shape is not much seen in Sri Lanka, where the original round Sanchi-style stupa remains the most usual. Looking at the great sites of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, we can observe some interesting styles that give us good reference points for stupas we see on our travels through Southeast Asia.

Myanmar

In Myanmar, there is a clear progression of styles. The earliest stupas were built by the Pyu people and this Pyu-style can be found at the 7th century Bawbawgyi Pagoda at the ancient city of Sri Ksetra near modern day Pyay.

Bawbawgyi. (Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BawbawgyiPaya.jpg)
Bawbawgyi. (Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BawbawgyiPaya.jpg)

This bulbous, but elongated version of the simple mound is the beginning of the Burmese stupa.

Buphaya. Photo credit, thetempletrail.com
Buphaya. Photo credit, thetempletrail.com

In the kingdom of Bagan, the Pyu-style turned into the gourd-shape evident in the Buphaya in Bagan.  Continue reading The Stupas of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos

Periodization of Angkorian Architectural Styles

Angkor Wat is rightly Cambodia’s most famous historical and religious site, visited by millions every year [4.6million estimated in 2014]. But what is not clear to many until visiting is that Angkor is quite a large area near the city of Siem Reap actually containing many temples, palaces, and other ancient buildings of a wide range of architectural styles spanning several centuries.

Here is a public domain simplified map showing the many major sites near the main complexes of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom:

Karta AngkorWat” by Hobe / Holger Behr – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

An historical periodization of the styles of architecture found in and around Angkor can be a useful reference both to navigating the different eras of sites closely located in the area, as well as placing the temple architecture found around the rest of Cambodia.

Continue reading Periodization of Angkorian Architectural Styles

Selection of Slideshows about Buddhist Architecture

To provide supporting information for the launch of The Golden Lands book, we’ve published several slideshows of our own mainly about travel itineraries for Southeast Asia: check out our Slideshare page here http://www.slideshare.net/buddhistarchitecture

But we’re not the only ones on Slideshare with interests in these topics! Here are some recommended slideshows from other sources, have a look through! [Information from 3rd parties comes with no warranty 🙂 ]

Continue reading Selection of Slideshows about Buddhist Architecture

Architectural Diagrams of Buddhist Temples from The Golden Lands Book

The most novel, and technically challenging aspect of the several years of research for The Golden Lands has been the surveying of these scores of Buddhist architectural sites, and CAD-illustration into accurate 3D rendered computer models. This has been an incredibly detailed and demanding process, pioneered by the author Vikram Lall.

On this page you can see just a few examples of the architectural diagrams produced in this book, and please sign up to the book newsletter or contact us for more resources related to the surveying and diagrams of Buddhist architecture as we continue the series.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Borobudur Temple, Indonesia – Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Bayon Temple at Angkor, Cambodia - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Bayon Temple at Angkor, Cambodia – Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Comparison of plans of temples at Ayutthaya - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Comparison of plans of temples at Ayutthaya – Diagram from The Golden Lands book

 

Wat Phra Ram, Ayutthaya - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Wat Phra Ram, Ayutthaya – Diagram from The Golden Lands book
The development of the Prasat in to the Face Tower - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
The development of the Prasat in to the Face Tower – Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Manuha Temple near Bagan, Myanmar - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Manuha Temple near Bagan, Myanmar – Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Ein Yar Kyaung pentagonal pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar  - Diagram from The Golden Lands book
Ein Yar Kyaung pentagonal pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar – Diagram from The Golden Lands book