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Burma Religion (Burma) Essay

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Since the Myanmar ancient times, there has been full freedom of worship for followers of Burma religions in Myanmar. So many different religions can be practiced in Myanmar. Buddhism is practiced by almost 90 percent of Myanmar religion Burma’s population, with the Myanmar Theravada Buddhism School being the most prevalent. It has a firm hold in Myanmar’s culture along with an observance of animism, or the worship of ancestors (nat). In Myanmar culture, there are many Myanmar festivals and celebrations held that correlate with nat.

Nat also has influence on the practice of Myanmar traditional medicine in Myanmar religion Burma. There are other religions in Myanmar, but they are not as widespread as Buddhism and animism. Some of the beliefs found include Christianity (Baptists) in Myanmar hill areas and Muslims. Christianity is practiced by 5.5 percent of Burmese Myanmar, Islam by 3.8 percent Hinduism by 0.5 percent and Animism by 0.2 percent before respectively in Myanmar. Myanmar is a predominantly Theravada Buddhist country.

Buddhism reached Myanmar around the beginning of the Christian era, mingling with Hinduism (also imported from India) and indigenous animism in Myanmar.

The Pyu and Mon kingdoms of the first millennium were Buddhist, but the early Burmese Myanmar peoples were animists. According to Myanmar religion Burma traditional history, Myanmar King Anawrahta of Bagan adopted Buddhism in 1056 and went to war with the Mon kingdom of Thaton in the south of Myanmar country in order to obtain the Buddhist Canon and learned Myanmar monks in Myanmar religion history. The religious Myanmar tradition created at this time, and which continues to the present day in Myanmar, is a syncretalist mix of what might be termed ‘pure’ Buddhism (of the Sri Lankan or Theravada school) with deep-rooted elements of the original animism or nat-worship and even strands of Hinduism and the Mahayana tradition of northern India.

Islam reached Myanmar at approximately the same time, but never gained a foothold outside the geographically isolated seaboard running from modern Bangladesh southwards to the delta of the Ayeyarwady (modern Rakhine, known previously to the British as Arakan, and an independent kingdom until the eighteenth century) Myanmar. The colonial period saw a huge influx of Muslim (and Hindu) Indians into Yangon and other Myanmar cities, and the majority of Yangon’s many mosques and temples owe their origins to these immigrants. Christianity was brought to Myanmar by European missionaries in the 19th century.

It made little if any headway among Myanmar Buddhists, but has been widely adopted by non-Buddhists such as the Karen and Kachin in Myanmar. The Chinese contribution to Myanmar’s religious mix has been slight, but several traditional Myanmar Chinese temples were established in Yangon and other Myanmar large cities in the nineteenth century when large-scale Chinese migration was encouraged by the British. Since approximately 1990 this migration has resumed in huge numbers, but the modern Chinese immigrants seem to have little interest in Myanmar religion Burma. Some more isolated indigenous peoples in the more inaccessible parts of Myanmar country still follow traditional animism.

The Roman Catholic Church, Myanmar Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God of Myanmar are the largest Christian denominations in Myanmar.

There are no totally reliable demographic statistics form Myanmar, but the following is one estimate of the religious composition of Myanmar country:

Buddhists: 87%
Animists: 5%
Christians: 4.5%
Muslims: 4%
Hindus: 1.5%

Burma Arts
Jamie Therese Jainar

The culture of Myanmar has been heavily influenced by Buddhism. More recently, British imperialism has influenced aspects of Burmese culture, such as language and education.

More recently, British imperialism has influenced aspects of Burmese culture, such as language and education. Its neighbors, particularly India, China, and Thailand, have made major contributions to Myanmar culture. In more recent times, British colonial rule and westernisation have influenced aspects of Burmese culture, including language and education. Historically, Burmese art and literature was based on Buddhist or Hindu cosmology and myths. In addition to the traditional arts are silk weaving, pottery, tapestry making, gemstone engraving, and gold leaf making. Temple architecture is typically of brick and stucco, and pagodas are often covered with layers of gold leaf while monasteries tend to be built of wood. Although court culture has been extinguished, popular street-level culture is vibrant and thriving.

Drama is the mainstay of this culture, and just about any celebration is a good excuse for a pwe (show). Performances may recount Buddhist legends, or be more light-hearted entertainments involving slapstick comedy, dance, ensemble singing or giant puppets. Myanmar music is an integral part of a pwe; it originates from Thai and emphasizes rhythm and melody. Instruments are predominantly percussive and include drums, boat-shaped harps, gongs and bamboo flutes. The toys of Myanmar are not only for the children but also famous in the world, known as the Marionettes (or) Puppets of Myanmar. It’s a combination of Myanmar Art and Culture, together to show the inner expressions of the Myanmar people.

A. The Prehistoric Period – c. 1100 BC to 200 BC

The Pre historic Period in Burma is known from a limited number of excavations that were carried out in selected rock shelters, caves and other sites along the middle course of the Irrawaddy River. Since Burma even today is sparsely populated, it would not be surprising to find that early cultures in Burma developed in isolation. However, the artifacts uncovered in these digs resemble those in other parts of Southeast Asia indicating that there was meaningful contact over wide areas at a very early date, and the arts in Burma were not isolated even at this early time. This pattern of intra-area contact continued into the later historical periods. Since there are no written records for this early period, we know little about religious practice. However, since the artifacts that have been discovered conform to those used in small-scale societies for animist rituals, it might be presupposed that these early societies practiced a type of Animism.

Therefore, Animism, and artifacts associated with its practice, will be discussed as a bridge between this most remote period and contemporary animist art forms. B. The Pre-Pagan Period – Mon and Pyu Urbanism – c. 2nd BC – 8 AD During the Pre-Pagan Period there is ample evidence that the lowland peoples in Burma adopted ideas from India as indicated by a few standing structures, numerous excavated foundations, and a wide array of artifacts. These materials were produced for worship in Animism and Hinduism as well as Mahayanna and Theravada Buddhism. The first cities appear throughout central Burma and were directly dependent on extensive irrigation systems. Thus begins the parmountcy of the central region of Burma that continues until the present.

The cities occur in well-planned forms that are a combination of indigenous and Indian concepts. Within these cities, the first buildings in non-perishable materials were constructed. These brick and mortar buildings were all used for religious purposes whereas secular buildings, even palaces, continued to be made of perishable materials until the modern era. This dichotomy between the type of material used for construction and the use of the building generally continued through all later developmental periods.

Also, at this time, a particular interest develops for two types of religious structures – the Buddhist stupa and the Buddhist temple. Brick foundations of what were most probably the first monasteries are dated to this period. Although the number of images from the Pre-Pagan Period is limited, the diversity of styles and subject matter is generally broader than in later periods. The Mon and Pyu languages are written using alphabets and concepts adopted from India. A Burmese calendar was later created that begins with the fall of the Pyu dynasty in 836 AD. C. The Pagan Period – 11th to 13th centuries

Classic forms emerged during the Pagan Period for many aspects of Burmese culture, including the economic, political, religious, social, and artistic. These forms were the models used by later Burmese dynasties to create new but related forms, often through slightly modifing their content. Classic architectural forms emerged as embodied in the Shwezigon Stupa and the Ananda Temple that were repeatedly copied by later donors. The styles of sculpture from the Pagan Period were also periodically revived.

Theravada Buddhism became the preferred faith and thereafter remained the predominant Burmese religion. The first examples of figurative painting occur on temple walls and employ the Pala style of India and Nepal. Although Pagan ceased to be the political capital of Burma in the 13th century, the city continued to be a respected religious center and many later monarchs returned to Pagan to endow new foundations or refurbish old ones. D. The Post Pagan Period -14th to 20th centuries

After the decline of Pagan, Burma fragmented into a number of small kingdoms that looked back to Pagan for validation and for artistic inspiration. None of these kingdoms rivaled the earlier period in art and architectural accomplishments and all can be seen as “Pagan writ small”. Pagan buildings were proudly copied, but often with significant modifications. The stupa became the most favored religious building and temples were rarely built. Wooden monasteries constructed on a raised wooden platform largely replaced the brick and stucco monasteries of Pagan.

A number of Burmese styles arose, particularly in sculpture, as a result of fewer contacts with India due to the Muslim invasions there and the Muslim destruction of Buddhist religious sites. Burmese styles of painting develop and in the nineteenth century borrow pictorial devices from the West. The Mandalay Style that arose during the latter half of the Post Pagan Period became dominant in central Burma and has continued until the present as the preferred style in Burmese art.

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