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Phaya Thonzu (ဘုရားသုံးဆူ)

Burmese. ‘Three Deities’ or ‘Three Pagodas, and sometimes translated as Temple of Three Buddhas. Name of a Buddhist temple complex in Bagan, that consists of three interconnected shrines, each housing a brick Buddha image seated in the bhumisparsa pose. It was constructed in the 13th century AD, yet was abandoned shortly before its was complete, possibly due to the invasion of the Mongols. The interior contains some fine frescoes, with two of the shrines showing vaguely Chinese or Tibetan-looking mural figures that depict bodhisattvas, suggesting some influence from Mahayana Buddhism and perhaps even Tantrism, that may have existed in the late Pagan Period. However, some scholars incline that the three monuments represent the Triple Gem of Theravada Buddhism, i.e. the Buddha, his teachings or the Dhamma, and the Sangha, while yet others advocate that the shrines may have been designed for the worship of the Hindu triad of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, also known as the Trimurti. Sometimes transliterated Phayathonzu, Phaya Thon Su or Payathonzu, and also used as the Burmese name for the Three Pagodas in Kanchanaburi (fig.), as well as of the neighbouring town of the same name in Myanmar's Kayin State, and for a mountain top temple with a giant Buddha statue, known as Gotama, in Kyaihtiyo (fig.), which is also referred to as Phaya Thon Su Taung, i.e. Mountain Temple of the Three Buddhas. See MAP.