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LEXICON

 

 

Tantkyitaung Zedi (တန့်ကြည့်တောင်စေတီ)

Burmese. Tantkyi Mountain Pagoda. Name of a Buddhist hilltop temple near Bagan, built by King Anawrahta (fig.) in the year 397 of the Burmese Era and renovated in successive periods. It is located on Tantkyi Hill, a mountain (taung) on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River. Tantkyitaung Zedi is one of four temples entwined in the Shwe Daw Lay Su legend of King Anawratha, which asserts that the King was given some tooth relics of the Buddha by King Vizaraba of Sri Lanka, which were placed on the back of a sacred White Elephant (fig.), which was then set free in order to determine four proper spots to build pagodas to house these relics. This practice is akin to the establishment of Wat Doi Suthep in Thailand's Chiang Mai, once a vassal to Burma. As legend has it, the White Elephant halted at four different places and the King later had stupas (fig.) built at each of these locations, which besides Tantkyitaung Zedi include Shwezigon Phaya (fig.), Lawkananda Zedi (fig.), and Tuyintaung Zedi (fig.). According to popular Burmese believe, if pilgrims to the relics are able to visit all four of these holy places in a single morning, their wishes will be fulfilled. Tantkyitaung Pagoda is 27 meters high, with a base of 18 meters, and is topped with a nine tiered chattra, i.e. a royal umbrella. Besides the pagoda, the platform offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area and also includes a statue of the White Elephant bearing the relics, some gong bearers, and a statue of a nat. Below the platform of the pagoda, in a basin filled with water, is the head of a naga protruding from the walling and of which it is said that its tail end is across the river, near Bagan's Shwezigon Phaya. Pilgrims to this place come here to cleanse themselves by pouring cups of water over this naga head, which they scoop from the basin and pour it over the naga's head, just as many times as their age, plus one time. A shrine in the corner of this area features a statue of Mya Nan Nwe, a female spirit or nat (fig.), of whom it is believed that she is an incarnation of the naga (fig.).