Splendour in Wood, The Buddhist Monasteries of Burma, by Sylvia Fraser-Lu

Hardcover with DC, 344 pages, color illustrated, Trumbull 2001, as new, first Ed.!

CHF65,00 * Excl. Shipping costs
Delivery time: in stock, immediate availability

Burmese wooden monasteries and related pavilions have not received the scholarly attention they deserve. This is unfortunate given the ephemeral nature of wood in a damp, tropical climate, with voracious insect life and the ever-present risk of floods, fire and earthquakes. Many extant structures are in a very dilapidated condition; the original donors have moved away, and/or their descendants no longer have adequate financial resources to maintain their forbears' work.

The author begins by telling a story about how she was recommended to study the function, structure and history of wooden monastery to understand Burmese Buddhism rather than a perusal of sacred text. That is not what you would normally hear. Usually, it is the opposite way: you study texts to understand Architecture. At the same time, she was charmed to discover the daily life of the monastery beyond the local pagodas and temples, whose idea I can relate to since for example in Korea as well, the monasteric lives in remote places, often deep in the mountains, offer a glimpse of truer form of religious pursuits to the outsiders. After the foreword, you are then introduced to the outcome of her 20 year long journey. The first half of the book is focused on the general teachings such as the founding and development of Buddhism in Burma, the rituals and monks themselves, craftsmen and the basic features of this typology including spatial arrangements, ornaments, joinery, structure and the variations of tiered roofs. In so doing, she provides numerous archival materials such as photographs, paintings and architectural drawings. Then the second part is devoted to the catalogue of 87 monasteries in upper, central and lower regions of Burma, and these are accompanied by pretty thorough descriptions, plans and the exteriors. The photos that show the spacial qualities of the interiors are a bit rare, but instead, the ornaments and the details are covered extensively. What is really interesting is how the traditional iconographic features have been translated over time as Burma has gone through colonial periods and modernization. You can see the influences of different styles from everywhere... This is a very informative scholastic reference book adorned with valuable images.

0 stars based on 0 reviews