An account of various thrones used by Myanmar kings
King Badon (Bodawphaya, 1782-1819) moved to the new palace on 17 May 1783 and Amarapura (the City of No Death) on 1 June 1783. One of his ministers called Jeyasankhaya (Zayyathinkhaya) compiled An Account on Golden Palace (Shwebon Nidan) and he completed the work on 21 February 1784. This work was used a handbook on the paraphernalia of almost everything used in the palace. It also explained how a particular thing in the palace (for instance a throne) was made, why is was made and for what purpose it was made. Most of the information given below is from this book.
A king uses eight kinds of throne. The name is Pallan (Palin) and it is derived from a Pali word pallanka meaning a seat. As the king uses it, this seat is generally known by the name of Rajapallanka (Yazapalin, the king’s seat). When it has a span of twenty four feet (5.53 meters) it is Mahapallanka, twelve feet (2.76 meters) Majjimapalanka and six feet (1.88 meters ) Culapallanka. Each throne is usually decorated with eight pieces, viz, (1) Lion, (2) Elephant in the Air, (3) Guardian God (Lokhanatha), (4) Peacock Fan, (5) Elephant Ear, (6) and (7) Two posts for the Door of the Reredos (Dage`), (8) Sakra (Thagya, King of Gods), (9) Kinnara (Kainnya Bird with Human Head), (10) Sammadeva (God of Good Disposition), (11) Chu Kya (Lotus scroll with Stylized Lion) and (12) Oo Zauk Pan (Floral Motif near the Top of Reredos). The throne is placed against the Marabin (Marabhanga where the Mara’s Attack was broken). It is first a partition wall that divides lengthwise the Audience Hall, in the Myay Nan Pyatthat (Myay = Earth, Nan = Palace, Pyatthat = a wooden tower of multiple roofs). The name ‘earth’ is specially chosen here to signify mother or the beginning of life. Because of the Marabin (Partition), the throne is divided into two halves. One half is exposed to the audience and the another or hidden half serves as a couch (Thalun).
As mentioned above there are eight kinds of throne. But the one at the Myay Nan Pyatthat has its duplicate in the Central Administration Building called Lhuttaw.
1. The lion Throne (Sihasana or Thihathana), located in the Nan Oo Pyatthat (Foremost or Main Tower) which is also called the Myay Nan Pyatthat (Earth Palace Tower). It is made of Yamane (Gemelina arborea) wood. All the king’s vassals as well as the Crown Prince and Ministers came to this hall to pay obeisance to the monarch on the New Year Day, the Beginning of the Buddhist Lent and the End of the Buddhist Lent. Absence on this occasion is taken as a serious offense amounting to an open rebellion. Foreign envoys are also received by the king in this hall. The Lion Throne of the Lhuttaw is occasionally used by the king when he attends a Lhuttaw meting to pass an important decision.
2. The Hamsa (Hintha, Brahminy Duck) Throne, located in the Jetavana (Zaydawun Zaung, Palace Shrine) used for religious ceremonies. It is made of Thingan (Hopea odorata) wood.
3. The Conch (Sankha, Khayuthin) Throne located in the Baungdaw Zaung where the king attends any kind of religious preachings. It is made of Thayet (Mangifera indica) wood.
4. The Bee (Bhamara, Bee, Beetle) Throne, located in the Glass Palace (Mhan Nan Zaung, Bed Chamber). It is made of Karaway (Cinnamomum inunctum) wood.
5. The Elephant (Gaja, Elephant) Throne, located in the Byedike (Inner Court) where the king presides either to praise or blame a service rendered by his officers. It is made of Saga (Michelia champaca) wood.
6. The Peacock (Marura, Peacock) Throne, located in the Northern Gatehouse where the king attends in person to receive the gifts of the fine horse or elephant. It is made of Pauk (Butea monosperma) wood.
7. The Deer (Miga, Deer) Throne, located in the Southern Gatehouse where the king appears for the discussion. It is made of Yethapan (Ficus glomerata) wood.
8. The Lotus (Paduma, Nelumbium speciosum, Sacred Lotus) Throne ,located in the Western Audience Hall (Anauk Pwedet Zaung) where only the Ladies of the Court attend, once in the year on the sixth day after the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (Seventh Month of the Myanmar Lunar Year). The exhibition of the gifts or reading the list of gifts is omitted. The king and his chief queen sit on the throne. Ladies come in full ceremonial dress and a strict protocol is observed during the ceremony.
Through an agent the king asks three questions, viz. Is there prosperity in the four quarters of the City? Is the rain evenly spread through out the three rainy months? Does the wife pays due respect to her husband? “Verily, My Lord!” is the expected answer and only the chosen woman could say it.
The king sits on the throne facing east and his chief queen sits on his Right or South. Thus she becomes Taung Nyar San Mahesi – Chief Queen sitting on the South which is also Right Side of the King.
(1) Jeyasankhaya 1784; Jeyasankhaya, Shwe Bon Nidan, Yangon, Hanthawaday, 1960 second printing.
(2) Maung Tin 1940: Maung Maung Tin. Shwe Nan Thone Wawhara Abhidhan, Yangon, Buddha Sasana Press, 1975.
(3) Tikkhadhamma 1969: Myanma Yet Swe Thamaing (Konbaung Zet), Mandalay, Bama Kit Press, 1969.
(4) Obhasa 1966: Sutesana Thayoke Pya Ahabhidan, Yangon, Pannananda, 1955.
The above article is from Myanmar Court Etiquette by Than Tun, July 2003.