The Architecture of Mon Buddhist Monasteries in Lower Burma

Asst.Prof.Dr.Chotima Chaturawong

      Mon Buddhist monasteries in Moulmein durning the nineteeth and early twentieth centuries were built by teak and rice merchants. Earlier mon monasteries had been built by royalty, but Lower Burma lacked royal patronage after it fell under Brithish rule in 1826. Moulmein was a center of teak and rice trade and the capital of Lower Burma from 1829 to 1862.

        Due to trade, Moulmein was prosperous,and hence wealthy merchants built Buddhist monasterie. This reach focuses on the characteristics of the architecture of Mon Buddhist monasteries built during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Moulmein. Although there are several Mon Buddhist monasteries in Thailand, they were built after Thai styles. The study focuses on monasteries in the town of Moulmein and in Kado and Kaw-hnat villages to its north. Mon Buddhist monoastic dwellings in Moulmein share characteristics with Burmese Buddhist monastic dwellings in Upper Burma and Mon houses in Thailand. However, Mon monastic dwellings in Moulmein were often built with brick, whereas those of the Burmese were built with wood. Their main entrances or staircases were usually placed to the north, similar to the direction of the entrance of Mon house in central Thailand.

Mon monastic compounds also include a vihara, an ordination hall, and a padoda. The Mon vihara is considered important and differs from that of The Thai. In the past a Mon ordination hall was shared among several monasteries for monastic rituals, but now each monastery prefers to have its own. Mon pagodas in Moulmein correspond with those of Mon in central Thailand. Besides providing the architectural characteristics of Mon Buddhist monasteries, this study also relates to the socio-cultural contexts of the areas and considers the society, economy, politics, education, Buddhism, and relations between the kingdoms of burma and Siam.