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Sabbannu Phaya (သဗ္ဗညုဘုရား)

Burmese-Pali name for a just over 60 meter high Buddhist temple in Bagan, i.e. the tallest of all monuments in this ancient kingdom and former capital of Pagan. The designation is a compound of the Pali word sabbannu, which means ‘omniscient’, and the Burmese term Phaya, which can be translated as Buddha’ or ‘Buddha image’, but also as ‘stupa’ or ‘pagoda’. It is also commonly referred to as Thatbyinnyu Phaya (fig.), a Burmese equivalent of the Burmese-Pali name, which is short for Thatbyinnyutanyan Phaya and may be translated as the pagoda (or god) of thorough knowledge and wide view. It was built in the 12th century by King Alaungsithu (fig.). Its architectural style is usually described as transitional, i.e. between early style edifices, such as Ananda Phaya (fig.) which dates from 1105 AD, and late style structures, such as that of Gawdawpalin Phaya, of which construction began during the reign of King Narapatisithu, who reigned from 1174 to 1211 AD, and was completed in 1227 AD, during the reign of King Htilominlo. It is one of the earliest double-storey temples, yet with the arrangement that differs from from that of later double-storey temples, as if it were a try-out for the new form found in later structures. Three receding terraces, each adorned with crenellated parapets and corner stupas, rise above each storey. At the top is a curvilinear sikhara-like tower (fig.), surmounted by a slim, tapering spire. Though essentially in the jaturamuk style, i.e. with four entrances, one for each point of the compass, the eastern portico projects further than the others, breaking the symmetry, a style that is copied in later temples, such as Sulamani and Gawdawpalin. Whereas the southern, western and northern entrances each have a large, seated Buddha image, the eastern portico has a central stairway, flanked by two standing sentinels, that leads to an intermediate storey where an ambulatory forms a continuous passage way around the centre of the building, while two levels of windows provide the interior of light and a breeze of air. Two stairways built into the thick walls provide access to the terrace over the eastern portico, from where an external flight of stairs leads to the upper storey, where a huge Buddha image is seated on a masonry throne. A further narrow staircase built into the thick walls leads to the terraces on the upper storey, which offers great panoramic views of the area. To the northeast of Sabbannu Phaya is a small so-called tally temple, i.e. a structure built with bricks set aside from the main temple. To keep count of the number of bricks used in the construction of Sabbannu Phaya, one brick was set aside for every 10,000 bricks used, and the tally temple was built with the bricks set aside for this. See MAP.