Ngahtetgyi Pagoda Board of Trustees preserves historic iron prayer hall, Yadanabon-era artworks

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The iron prayer hall at the Ngahtetgyi Pagoda.

The Ngahtetgyi Pagoda Board of Trustees preserves the original designs of the early colonial-era iron prayer hall and late Yadanabon-era Myanmar architectural works at the pagoda located in Bahan Township, Yangon Region.
U Tin Myint, a member of the Board of Trustees, stated, “The Ngahtetgyi Pagoda is the oldest among the pagodas in Yangon, surpassing others like Koehtetgyi and Chaukhtetgyi. Its construction dates back to 1901, making it 121 years old.”
The iron prayer hall, which houses the Buddha image, was one of the few iron structures in Yangon during its construction period. Historical records suggest that the iron and steel rods used were imported from the UK via steamship. As local architects faced challenges in constructing such a complex structure, Chinese professionals were enlisted to aid in the project.
The trustee added, “Myanmar traditional paintings and relief sculptures adorn the inner linings of the prayer hall. They depict the stories of Buddha’s past lives, found on the ceiling, columns, and barge boards.”
Artists from Mandalay were commissioned to design the decorations, while local architects and experts from the Department of Archaeology and National Museum conduct maintenance every four years.
The pagoda is located one mile east of Shwedagon Pagoda. Its design was inspired by the Ngahtetgyi Pagoda in Sagaing Region, hence its name. The official name of the pagoda is Maha Setkya Atula Manaung.
Architects from Thailand visited and observed the iron prayer hall of the Ngahtetgyi Pagoda and Yadanabon-era paintings and relief sculptures adorning the columns and ceiling.
The reliefs depict various aspects, including the Buddha’s past 10 lives, the Dokhtagamani Play, the 31 abodes, existence in Buddhist cosmology, and zodiac signs. They were crafted by famous artists such as Mandalay Saya Tint, U Shwe Aung, and Photmyay Saya Nyunt. — ASH/NT

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