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Distributed for National University of Singapore Press

Mandalay and the Art of Building Cities in Burma

Drawing on original Burmese texts and illustrations, recent scholarship, and mapping,  Mandalay and the Art of Building Cities in Burma argues that the founding of Mandalay shifted critically in emphasis and scale during its planning from a protocol that established the royal city as a “cosmic city” to one that viewed the royal capital as a sanctuary. As part of that shift, François Tainturier shows, the founding protocol used Buddhist narratives as models for action and drastically altered patterns of spatial order that had been prevalent at former royal capitals. The systematic planning of Mandalay and the construction of its potent landscape constituted the expression—formulated not in words but in tangible form—of the throne’s claim that Burma was a “Buddhist land,” at a time when Lower Burma had been annexed by non-Buddhist believers. Tainturier provides further insight into how rulers articulated their lineage, power, and the promotion of Buddhism by creating potent landscapes. Mandalay and the Art of Building Cities in Burma renews scholarly discussion on Southeast Asian urban traditions and offers a critical investigation into the “cosmic” dimensions of one of the region’s centers of power.

240 pages | 76 color plates, 10 halftones | 7 1/4 x 9 1/4

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“François Tainturier and NUS Press show a work of very good quality. The visual quality, the format, the large number of figures–old maps, photos from the colonial era, diagrams and comparative plans–the care given to the very beautiful layout, are all elements that strike you at first sight.”


[This] is a fascinating book, fluidly written, thoroughly researched and clearly structured around key arguments. . . . Overall, the book is a textured and meticulous work of passion that deserves to be read by anyone interested in Southeast Asia’s cultural, religious and urban history. It is also a valuable reminder that Burma can be apprehended and appreciated for its cultural and historical richness beyond the horrors faced by its people today.”


Table of Contents

1. Introduction, 2. Building Upon Precedence, 3. The Making of a Sanctuary, 4. The “Earth Palace” as Cosmic Pivot, 5. Ordering Space in the Royal City and Beyond, 6. The “Seven Places”, 7. The “Blessed One’s Bazaar” Materialized, 8. Conclusion: Building the City of Dhamma

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