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Moore, Elizabeth (2013) 'The Sacred Geography of Dawei: Buddhism in peninsular Myanmar (Burma).' Contemporary Buddhism, 14 (2). pp. 298-319.

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Abstract

The paper opens by recounting the beginnings of Buddhism in Dawei as preserved in local chronicles and sustained in stupas marking the episodes of the chronicle narrative. The chronicles start with a visit of the Buddha whose arrival triggers a series of events bringing together pre-existing tutelary figures, weiza, a hermit and offspring born of a golden fish, culminating in the establishment of the first Buddhist kingdom circa the eighth to tenth century CE. The enshrinement of sacred hairs gifted by the Buddha also includes patronage by a king of the ‘Suvannbhumi’ lineage. Associated with the monks Sona and Uttara from Sri Lanka sent by King Asoka’s son Mahinda, ‘Suvannbhumi’ literally can refer to the archaeology of Thaton, a walled site in the present day Mon State, or, as is the case here, more widely to the missionary tradition associated with Asoka (Sao Saimong Mengrai 1976). The third story in the establishment of the Buddhist king at Thagara is the longest of the chronicle, the tale of a royal hunter who failed to capture a golden peacock for the queen. The hunter became a hermit living by a pond with a golden fish and as he urinated in the pond, two children were born from the fish. The boy becomes the first Buddhist king of Thagara, 11 km north of Dawei, where artefacts from survey and excavation confirm the chronology of the chronicle, with the closest archaeological parallels found not at the ancient sites of the Mon State but to the first millennium CE Buddhist ‘Pyu’ heritage of Upper Myanmar which is notably absent in the chronicle compilation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Dawei chronicle Buddhism landscape sacred geography
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History of Art and Archaeology
ISSN: 14639947
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1080/14639947.2013.832084
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2013 12:23
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/17708

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