Maha Muni Buddha Image

   The most important Buddha image in Burma, located in a temple complex just south of the center of Mandalay. Maha Muni means "great sage," and according to legend, a king of Arakan (Rakhine) commissioned it during the lifetime of Gotama Buddha, who "breathed life upon it," giving it special powers. Archeological evidence suggests it was one of the earliest representations of Buddha, created in the early centuries CE. The Maha Muni image served as the protector of the Arakan Kingdom until King Bodawpaya brought it to his capital in central Burma following his subjugation of Arakan in 1784-1785. The image is approximately four meters (13 feet) high and adorned with a crown in the manner of a "universal monarch"; generations of devotees have covered it with so much gold leaf that its original shape has been distorted. Only the Maha Muni image's face is shiny and smooth. Burmese people refer to it as paya, the word also used to designate a pagoda, but which in the broadest sense means any person or object worthy of devotion or veneration.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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