Seated Buddha

Mahamuni Shrine, Mandalay, Burma

This Buddha statue, originally from Arakan, is the holiest in Burma, traditionally (though impossibly) believed to have been copied from the living image of the Buddha. Worshippers seen here are applying gold leaf, as an act of devotion, to the already-encrusted statue.

The original date and appearance of this statue are unknown. It was brought to Burma from Arakan by King Bodawpaya after his conquest of 1784. Old chronicles relate that the statue had been damaged and repaired several times during its travels. Its face today is thought, both on this evidence and on stylistic grounds, to be a reconstruction from several different periods. As for the body, no one knows what it looks like underneath all that gold leaf.