Bagan: Ancient Capital of Myanmar


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Bagan (Pagan) Architectures

The architectural types at Bagan may be classified into four main types:

Type I

It is an early form, has a bulbous dome and is exemplified by the Bupaya and the Ngakywenadaung.

Bupaya Ngakywenadaung


Type II

It has a series of receding terraces, surmounted by a cylindrical or bell-shaped dome which continues into a finial of concentric rings. In the developed form of this type, there are three receding square terraces and an octagonal base providing the transition to a bell-shaped dome with a band of moulding in the middle. The Lawkananda and Shwesandaw provide early examples of this type, while the Shwezigon and Mingalarzedi are prominent representatives of the developed form.

Lawkanandar Mingalarzedi
Shwezigon Shwesandaw


Type III

It is similar in basic form to Type II, but has a ribbed, bowl-shaped disc, interposed between the dome and the finial. An example is the Seinnyet Nyima.

Seinnyet Nyima Pahtothamyar


Type IV

This is modelled on the medieval Sinhalese dagaba or Pagoda, has a bell-shaped dome on a circular base, and a box-like relic chamber interposed between the dome and the finial. The Sapada is an outstanding example of this type.

Other than the above four, the architectural types at Bagan may be further classified as follows:

  1. Temple based on North Indian model, e.g. Ananda

  2. Temple of Central Indian type, e.g. Mahabodhi

  3. Temple based on South Indian model, e.g. Gawdawpalin, Sulamani

  4. Cave temples based on Indian model, e.g. Kyaukgu Umin, Kyanzittha Umin

  5. Ordination hall, e.g. Upali Thein

  6. Library or Pitaka Taik

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