The Historical Archaeology of the Taningnway Quarter at Innwa 1700-1750: Winkaba and Taunglaylone Temple-Networks of Influence and Architectural Symbolism

Independent Scholar, Myanmar

Bagan, situated on the Irrawaddy River possesses many large and elaborate Buddhist monuments, reflecting cosmic concepts and religious beliefs. Many exterior temple structures were inspired by Mount Meru, with spires modeled after a stupa on the mountain's summit. The lotus may be found not only at the base of the main structures, but also at the base of the square tower (sikhara), symbolizing the temple emerging from a lotus depicting Buddha. Buddhist monuments constructed in other settlements after those in Bagan were not as large or complex. For example, Innwa, similarly located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, succeeded Bagan as the capital of Burmese kingdoms from from the 14th to 19th Centuries CE. Hundreds of Buddhist monuments were constructed during the four successive dynasties. These include structures such as stupas and temples donated by the various royal families. Those built by the last Kings of the Nyaung Yan period stand out as unique due to their architectural style, which differ from Bagan and later Myanmar Kingdoms. But, in contrast to Bagan stupas, which have four cardinal terraces, an inverted alms bowl, and a bell that forms a lobe, Innwa stupas have eight cardinal directions and a rectangular dome that extends from the terraces to the banana-bud, with multiple conical spires. Furthermore, unlike those in Bagan, the two maze-like temples of Winkabar (maze) and Taung-lay-lone (four mountains) lotus adornment, and lack enough space for worship and meditation. This paper investigates how these temples represent Buddhist cosmology and why they were constructed in this architectural style. It also attempts to interpret why King Taninganway used maze architecture in his religious works, as well as the Buddhist concept of the maze.