In the Realm of the Caged Gods

I know it's probably to prevent theft or vandalism, but it looks decidedly like the Gods are imprisoned - locked up and powerless.
I know it's probably to prevent theft or vandalism, but it looks decidedly like the Gods are imprisoned - locked up and powerless.

These foreboding looking shrines, encapsulated in an unadorned, steadily disintegrating concrete shell, are a place I alluded to briefly in the little vignette accompanying this post. Sited near the summit of Mandalay Hill — the tallest point within the boundaries of the former Burmese capital, the whole place feels decidedly dark and oppressive, as the Gods peer out helplessly from behind the bars of their cage homes.

Information is decidedly difficult to find on this place —my unfamiliarity with Theravada Buddhism and the difficulty in searching in Burmese1 means that I can’t as easily decode these mysteries and sate my curiosity as in Chinese.

Despite the dearth of any solid info, I do have a name for it though — a larger resolution photo of the main image I’ve posted here, reveals a sign in English above the central shrine labelling this place as Myat Saw Nyi Naung Pagoda မြတ်စောညီနောင် — which from a brief Google search appears to be a fairly common name, the first result being for a much more grandiose example in the city of Taungoo တောင်ငူမြို့ The Mandalay specimen is mentioned in passing in a few small blogs, with some photos taken in its more prosperous years, but with no further information on its history, or to which Gods it’s dedicated.

A hole punched through the temple's concrete sarcophagus.
A hole punched through the temple's concrete sarcophagus.

In hindsight I should have taken some more photos closer up to get a better impression of the idols for identification, but until time, further research and perhaps a return visit prove more fruitful though, just take this as what it is, a mere glimpse into the Burmese shadow world — the surface of the oddities and obscurities this country has to offer has yet to even be scratched.

  1. I haven’t yet found a way of transcribing Burmese characters with any great accuracy – heck, some glyphs don’t even render without specialist typefaces installed, and from what I’ve seen, the web there is still very much in its infancy due to the strict censorship and usage regulations only being relaxed as recently as 2011.
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