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Mandalay (MDL)

A city where statues live with people

Despite the ubiquitous sacred aura of Buddha, who once foretold the glorious tomorrow of the second largest Burmese city, Mandalay is a dusty city rather than a monumental metropolis. But it is from a cloud of dust that rises and again loses its greatest treasure - the world-famous sculpture art.

The clever hands of the sculptors gave their name to Mandalay and put it on the list of places you must see in Myanmar. But do not look for a long dazzling history behind it. Established only 160 years ago, Mandalay is the youngest and last city of the Royal Burma.

A place where statues live

As you approach Kyauk Sit Tan, you can tell from a distance the tireless grinning of the grinders, which delve into the white marble mined in the area with thoughtful regularity. What will be the big and small blocks is clear from the beginning - Buddha. A Buddha who stands, sits or lies but always looks enlightened and benevolently at his creator, covered from head to toe with fine white powder. Likewise, he will look at his new owner hundreds and thousands of kilometers away. Mandalay statues are in the world of interest and only some end up in temples.

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Before you start thinking about what a one-meter white-and-white Buddha would look like next to your couch, be prepared for Mandalay products being everything but cheap. Not so. The craft of sculpture is passed down from generation to generation and production takes place in the form of a family manufactory. Everyone will contribute somehow, including women and children, who mostly polish the sculptures, although in a few moments they will again be covered by a white deposit. Of course, the greatest skill is required by the head and, above all, the Buddha’s face, so this task always falls to the best craftsmen in the workshop. Even the sight of less experienced sculptors, who carefully grind the folds of robes with electric grinders, will inspire respect.

For example, on , the prices of Burmese Marble Buddhas range from 250 € (about 6 500 CZK) for a 19cm statue to a nearly one-meter seated Buddha for 19 500 € (about half a million crowns).

Buddha in Mandalay concept has quite clear dimensions and contours. Statues are similar to eggs eggs. Walking through the streets dominated by these alive albinos is therefore as disturbing as bewitching.

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Buddha’s legacy at every step

Speaking of a flood of chalk-colored doubles, you are also easily lost among the 726 white stupas of the Kuthodaw Pagoda. Picturesque religious buildings usually guard Buddhist relics, in this case all fifteen sacred books of the Tripitaka canon. And how else than carved in white marble. The golden pagoda standing in their center, which is nicknamed the world’s largest book due to its extensive literary reliquary, deploys the crown figuratively speaking. She has managed to hold this title despite the fact that the Sandamuni Paya pagoda, which is a short distance away, has many more stupas with plates, even 1774 pieces.

Locals seemed to suspect that the Kuthodaw Pagoda could not compete with larger and more visited pagodas, such as Bagan or the Golden Pagoda in Yangon, betting on quantity, and decided to literally fill the nearby sacred Sagaing Hill with shrines. They all have one thing in common. The local white marble from which they are built and which will remain virgin clean for hundreds of years even in the dusty streets of Mandalay.

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