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ARCHITECTURE & ICONOGRAPHY

  

 

 

  Balu-Simha motif

 

Myanmar

This bas-relief, at the top centre of one of the ornamental frames around the niches that house Buddhist sandstone sculptures at Ananda Phaya in Bagan, and which is flanked by kranok motifs, is designed te be viewed in two ways...

 

If seen in  its entirety, the relief represents two simha or lions that are sitting back-to-back, while their heads are facing each other. However, when looking at only the top of the relief, the two heads and forelegs together represent the face of balu, in Myanmar the name for an ogre (fig.).

 

  Balu-Simha motif

 

  Balu-Simha motif

 

While balu is reminiscent of Rahu (fig.), its depiction is also similar to Taotie (fig.) and kirtimukha (fig.), i.e. a kala or kala face (fig.).