One of the main places I wanted to see in Mandalay was the Kuthodaw Pagoda which houses the Tipitaka carved onto marble slabs during the reign of the King Mindon, who also founded the royal city. It stands at the foot of Mandalay Hill, so after visiting the Mahamuni Image we caught a tuk-tuk to the other side of town.
I was already tired by the unexpectedly long walk to the Mahamuni Pagoda, and the tul-tuk was definitely not made with Westerners in mind, and it was hard to sit in it without banging my head on the roof every time we went over a bump. After a diversion for money changing, we eventually arrived at the Pagoda, in a rather tired and battered state.
For the high-definition files, slideshow and more photographs please see the SOURCE.
The following is re-edited from the Wikipedia article on The World’s Largest Book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda:
It stands upright in the grounds of the Kuthodaw (Royal Merit) Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It has 730 leaves and 1460 pages; each page is approximately three and a half feet wide, five feet tall and five inches thick.
The pagoda itself was built as part of the traditional foundations of the new royal city which also included a pitakat taik or library for religious scriptures, but King Mindon wanted to leave a great work of merit for posterity meant to last five millennia after Gotama Buddha who lived around 500 BC.
When the British invaded southern Burma in the mid-19th century, King Mindon Min was concerned that Buddhist Teachings would also be detrimentally affected in the North where he reigned. As well as organizing the Fifth Buddhist Council in 1871, he was responsible for the construction in Mandalay of the world’s largest book, consisting of 729 large marble tablets with the Tipitaka Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism inscribed on them in gold. One more was added to record how it all came about, making 730 stone inscriptions in total.
The marble was quarried from Sagyin Hill 32 miles north of Mandalay, and transported by river to the city. Work began on 14 October 1860 in a large shed near Mandalay Palace. The text had been meticulously edited by many senior monks and lay officials consulting the Tipitaka kept in royal libraries in the form of palm leaf manuscripts.
Scribes carefully copied the text on marble for stonemasons to work from. Each stone has 80 to 100 lines on each side in Burmese script, chiselled out and originally filled in with gold ink. It took a scribe three days to copy both the obverse and the reverse sides, and a stonemason could finish up to 16 lines a day. All the stones were completed and opened to the public on 4 May 1868.
Thirty years later in 1900, a print copy of the text came out in a set of 38 volumes in Royal Octavo size of about 400 pages each in Great Primer type. The publisher, Philip H. Ripley of Hanthawaddy Press, claimed that his books were “true copies of the Pitaka inscribed on stones by King Mindon”.
View of Mandalay Hill, Kuthodaw
What follows is a complete edition of the Dhammapada which is written on both sides of two of the marble slabs:
Dhammapada Page 1/4
Dhammapada Page 2/4
Dhammapada Page 3/4
Dhammapada Page 4/4
Tomorrow I will give some information and photographs on an even larger work which is housed right next door to Kuthodaw.