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Shwesandaw Phaya (ရွှေဆံတော်ဘုရား)

Burmese. ‘Golden Hair Pagoda. Name of a Buddhist pagoda in Bagan, which was by King Anawrahta (fig.) after his conquest of Thaton in 1057 AD and to enshrine some sacred hairs of the Sakyamuni Buddha which were obtained from Thaton. It consists of five terraces, with a bell-shaoed zedi or stupa (fig.) that risies from two octagonal bases two octagonal bases, while the pinnacle of the bell is topped with a hti, i.e. the tiered and ornamented finial in the form of a lacy umbrella used to crown the spires of Burmese pagodas. The original hti, which was toppled by an earthquake and has been erected on the side of the pagoda, while a new one was fitted soon after. The sides of the terraces once contained terracotta tiles depicting scenes from the jataka. The pagoda reportedly has a height of 99.9 meters, making it one of the tallest monuments of Bagan and thrashing Sabbannu Phaya (fig.) which —with a height of just over 60 meters— is the area's tallest temple. In the middle of each of the four sides of the terraces of Shwesandaw Phaya, there is a steep stairway that can be climbed to the topmost terrace, which is a popular spot overlooking the surrounding plane and its many temples and stupas (fig.). The pagoda was formerly also known as Ganesha Phaya, after the elephant-headed Hindu god (fig.), whose images once stood at the corners of the five successive terraces. See MAP.