Bagan: Ancient Capital of Myanmar


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Glazed Decoratives of Bagan Temples

Using Chinese sources, a story is made current that it was Pyu who started the making of glazed work in about AD 800. They traded glazed ware and earthen jars with neighbouring people. Excavations at Maing Maw, Vishnu Old Town, Sriksetra and Hanlin produced nothing like ceramic. As the archaeological excavations in these Pyu sites are still in the beginning, we might have the good fortune to get some evidence supporting the fact that Pyu did have ceramic of some good quality.

From about the 5th century AD until 8th century AD Pyu built a Kingdom that should be called the First Union of Myanmar from the upper Shweli river in the north to Moattama (Martaban) in the south and from the west of Thanlwin river in the east to the U Yu river and Htilin in the Yaw area at the foot of the Rakhine Ranges in the west. This kingdom was guarded by nine garrison towns of

  • Hsipaw

  • Kan Thida (near Nga O on thfe Shweli)

  • Myingyan

  • Mway Yin (near Male)

  • Halin (near Shwebo)

  • Thegon (near Pyay)

  • Taungdwingyi

  • Thigyaint (near Katha)

  • Maing Maw (near Kume)

Glazed Plaques from Mingalarzedi

In comparison with the designs used in terracotta Jataka plaques made by artists employed by Aniruddha, the designs of glazed work made by artists of Kyanzittha and other kings right down to the fall of the empire, are inferior. He took an extraordinary bold step of glazing sand stone. It is the most amazing thing to glaze jataka plaques and floor-tiles made of sand. This glazing of sand stone was quite an achievement. It was an amazing achievement for the ceramists of Bagan to succeed in glazing sandstone.

The Ananda Temple was built by Kyanzittha about A.D 1105. All terraces from top to bottom were once brilliantly inlaid with 1464 green glazed plaques. The parapets above the corridors and halls are decorated with 537 Jatakas, each identified by Pali name and number. It is the most completed series of Jataka plaques in Bagan. Above them, plaques of the top four terraces present 375 scenes, each with an Old Mon gloss, to explain the last ten Jatakas.

Plaques of the ground-plinth, 553 in all, each with an Old Mon gloss, shown on the west side, the various monsters of Mara's army, who vainly attacked The Buddha on the eve of The Enlightenment. On the east side, the Gods celebrate the Buddha's triumph, a procession of Devas and other mighty beings swelling his pomp, holding auspicious emblems.Each plaque square of 14x4 inches with 3 inches thickness, have never been edited.

In the scene of Mara's attack, his soldiers came riding on

  • Bear

  • Buffalo

  • Camel

  • Capricorn (Makara)

  • Cattle

  • Elephant

  • Hare

  • Hog- deer

  • Horse

  • Jackal

  • Leogryph (Vyala)

  • Lion

  • Naga (Serpent)

  • Pig

  • Ram

  • Tiger

  • Vulture

The heavenly and other mighty beings who celebrate the Buddha's triumph include:

  • Asurinda

  • Brumha

  • Dataratha (E-Guardian God)

  • Deva

  • Devi

  • Indra

  • Kinlok(Mon Clan Spirit)

  • Kumbhanda

  • Kuvera (N Guardian God)

  • Naga

  • Paharada

  • Sucitti

  • Suparna

  • Vepacitti

  • Viluraka (S Guardian God)

  • Virupakkha (W Guardian God)

  • Yama

  • Yakkha Senapati

As in Nagayon, Sulamani, Mingalarzedi, Dhammayazika, Tayokepyay and Htilominlo temples, have several dozens of glazed stone squares used on the floor. Mostly they are in three sizes. The first to be 18"square, the second 15" square and the third as 7" square.

Glazed Plaques from Dhammayazika Pagoda



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