October 7, 2017 Bagan/Tan Kyi Taung Mountain

Gubyaukgyi Temple

Tan Kyi Stupa

Tan Kyi Stupa Elephant

View from Tan Kyi Stupa

We visited the local market where they were selling most everything from fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry to wood carvings, fabrics, longyis and rattan products. The longyi is a sheet of cloth or fabric widely worn in Burma as well as in other nearby countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. For men, the fabric is about 6.5 feet in length and 2.5 feet wide with the two ends sewn together to create a cylindrical shape. The fabric is worn around the waist, usually hanging down to the feet and held in place by folding the fabric and tucking it in, but without a knot. It can also be folded up to the knee in warm weather for comfort. The longyi came into fashion during British colonial rule replacing a much longer piece (about 30 feet) of fabric previously worn called a pasos. The amount of fabric you wore was a sign of your social status. Women wear something very similar but the fabric would be slightly larger and is folded differently. Men usually wear fabric with checks, stripes or plain colors while the women wear prints and floral patterns in more multicolored hues.

Next we visited the Gubyaukgyi Temple known for its richly colored paintings thought to date to the early 12th century. The temple is quite small and dark inside, but the brightly colored paintings are still in excellent shape. The paintings depict historical stories of Buddha, similar to what we might think of as biblical stories.

In the afternoon we ascended the Tan Kyi mountain in vans to visit some man made caves carved into the hillsides and filled with Buddha statues and a reclining Buddha.  We then took an elevator up several stories to a very large stupa with views overlooking the river below and Bagan across the river. The Buddhists here practice Mahabote and believe that there is an animal protector based on the day of the week that you were born. There are eight animals representing the days of the weeks, with Wednesday having two elephants, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The morning elephant for Wednesday has tusks and the afternoon version has no tusks. The Mahabote is an ancient branch of astrology developed by the Burmese monks and believed to be a branch of the massive Hindu astrological system. Mahabote is based on the number 8 because it is believed that this number reflects harmony in energy, deflecting imbalance and perpetuating congruence.