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Buddhist Visual Cultures, Rhetoric, and Narrative in Late Burmese Wall Paintings$
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Alexandra Green

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390885

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390885.001.0001

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Presence and Memory

Presence and Memory

Commemoration of the Buddha

(p.60) 2 Presence and Memory
Buddhist Visual Cultures, Rhetoric, and Narrative in Late Burmese Wall Paintings

Alexandra Green

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter Two examines the depicted events and scenes as expressions of religious commemoration and as promoting particular social, political, and religious hierarchies. The relationships between the main, usually sculpted, Buddha image and the painted walls created a narrative structure that encompassed the temple interior as a whole and made the Buddha present within the space and in the contemporary moment. The mural sites created a place to remember and honor the Buddha, with the sculpted and painted biographical narratives making him available to contemporary Burmese. The wall paintings illustrated what was culturally praiseworthy to the Burmese, reinforced the relevance of these things socially, and inspired people to participate in the dominant cultural discourse. In the process of doing so, the commemorative imagery demonstrated the field of merit surrounding Gotama Buddha. It memorialized his great achievement and the awakenings of the Buddhas before him, presenting them to the current audience and preserving them for future ones. However, it is the structure of the paintings within the temple layout - the disposition of the images and the selection of stories - that integrated the representations of the Buddhas into a complete unit.

Keywords:   Presence, Memory, Biography, Narrative, Commemoration, Buddhism, Structure, Hierarchy

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