|Ref Type:||Book Section|
|Title:||The unique "basket-buildings" of Mrauk-U.|
|Source:||Archaeological Technology School (Pyay), 15th anniversary edition|
|Place of Publication:||Naypyidaw, Myanmar|
|Publisher:||Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture|
Around a dozen small buildings scattered across the 15th
to 18th century city of Mrauk-U, in Rakhine State, Myanmar, are identified as “libraries”. The best preserved version, though it has been reconstructed from only one surviving wall, is the Chin-kite (Figure 1). The building flares outward at the sides and seems to be overflowing from the top, like a basket of flowers. The body of the building is made from stone that appears to have been carved to represent woven basketry. These structures are called “pitakat-taik ” in Burmese 1. The modern Burmese word indicates specifically a library of Buddhist literature (i.e. not secular literature), but it is usually translated into English just as “library”. Its roots, though, combine Pali pi ṭaka “basket” and Burmese tuik “building”. It is this literal meaning that is used for the present hypothesis. There is no evidence that the pitakat-taik at Mrauk-U were literally storehouses for manuscripts. I propose that they were designed to call to mind, represent, and indeed embody the power of the “three baskets” of the Buddhist scriptures, the tri- pitaka, for the protection of the city. The actual manuscripts of the tri-pitaka were more likely to have been kept at monasteries, where monks, literate in Pali, could study or copy them.