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Yeo, Miriam Sze En (2023) 'Recursion, Remembering and Re-telling Time in the Stupas of Pagan [ပုဂံဘုရားပုထိုးများအကြောင်း ထပ်တလဲလဲ အဓိပ္ပါယ်ဖွင့်ဆိုခြင်း၊ အမှတ်ရခြင်းနှင့် အချိန်အား ပြန်ပြောင်းပြောဆိုခြင်း].' Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia, 2 (Article 1). pp. 1-16.

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This article examines how time is recursively presented and structured by the stupas of Pagan to form a chronological narrative, and to what purpose. Recursion — the reproduction of something within itself in a potentially infinite pattern — is seen in the stupas’ provision of temporal closure that returns to a beginning. Stupas’ recursive treatment of time can be seen through their reproduction of the past to provide meaning to the present, their restating of the present to contribute to ritual continuity and finally how their function as a syntactic end simultaneously creates the possibility of a future. The reproduction of time and timelessness prompts a reconsideration of the periodical notion of historical time. Periodisation is the idea that time progresses in a linear fashion according to periods marked by a beginning or end. In Pagan, the recursive treatment of time confounds these beginnings and ends, structuring and presenting time in a unique fashion for its ideological goals. This essay explores how the recursive manner of organising time provides narratives of significance to events, art, and architecture in Pagan’s history.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: recursion, stupas, cyclical time, Jātaka, death, merit, memory
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts
Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
SOAS Open Access Journals
SOAS Open Access Journals > Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
ISSN: 2634176X
Copyright Statement: Articles and reports are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC 4.0). This enables all content to be shared, copied and redistributed in any medium or format, with permissible exceptions where required. See individual figure captions for the copyright status of illustrations. Those images accompanied by the copyright symbol © are not covered by the Creative Commons licence and cannot be further reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner. For moreinformation see
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 23 May 2023 16:41

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