Comparing Encased Stupas in Thailand and Myanmar

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Myo Nyunt Aung


This article compares the design of encased stupas from the 15th to 19th centuries CE in Thailand along with examples from Myanmar in order to highlight the shared custom of encasement alongside the differences which developed over time.  Archaeological evidence of stupa encasement is plentiful, particularly in Thailand, and shows variations in the design of space and patronage. In both these countries, the second or new donor sometimes left a gap between the original inner and new outer structure for patrons and pilgrims to move around the inner structure in veneration. This article compares examples alongside the customs and beliefs that underpin the function and meaning of the encasement. Archaeological evidence of encasement in Thailand is complemented by the presence of relics of the Buddha, kings, amulets, precious stones, and possibly consecration deposits reviewed through the chronology, epigraphy, architecture, art styles and reliquaries of five Buddhist stupas dating from the 15th to 19th centuries CE. These are compared with examples from the author’s native country of Myanmar, where some encasements have a space between inner and outer stupas and relics have been recorded. While there are many similarities, in Myanmar the relic deposits from research to date have been found in many parts of the stupa, which is somewhat different from Thailand. Together, these comparative and contextual aspects contribute to a deeper understanding of the relationships in patronage traditions and also differences in encasement design between the neighboring countries of Myanmar and Thailand. 


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Aung, M. N. (2022). Comparing Encased Stupas in Thailand and Myanmar. Nakhara : Journal of Environmental Design and Planning, 21(2), Article 213.
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