Known in Burmese as zedis or payas, pagodas form the focal point of worship in Buddhist shrines in Myanmar. No one knows exactly how many there are, but the country is generally accepted to have more stupas than any other. Whether gilded, whitewashed, or made of crumbling brick, they have dominated skylines in this part of the world for over two millennia, when the relics of the historical Buddha and his followers started being interred inside monu mental structures. The elegantly tapering shape of the Burmese zedi, inspired by that of the Buddha’s own staff and begging bowl, therefore has a symbolic resonance, con necting worshippers directly to the very origins of their faith.
The Shan people of the eastern hill tracts evolved their own distinc tive form of the zedi, with more elon gated, tapering spires. Two of the largest collections, both reno vated in recent years, are those at Inthein on Inle Lake and Kakku (above) near Taunggyi.
Hti (finial or umbrella)
Ceremonially installed when a pagoda is built or renovated, the hti is made of tiers of finely wrought, ornately decorated metal that tinkle in the breeze.
Bo bo gyi (planetary posts)
Set in the cardinal directions around the stupa’s base, starting from the northeast, are shrines to the Sun (Sunday), Moon (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday morn ing), Rahu (Wednesday afternoon), Jupiter (Thursday), Venus (Friday), and Saturn (Saturday). Each day is also associated with its own animal