Bagan Murals

User Rating:  / 0
Poor    Best    


There are more than 3000 religious buildings still standing in the Bagan historical zone. After almost 1000 years, these monuments still contain more than 200,000 square feet of religious murals.

Most of the remaining murals date to what is commonly referred to as the Bagan era: founded by King Anawrahta in 1044, it spanned the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. But newer style of murals can also be seen at one or two temples because kings from empires that succeeded the Bagan era remained dedicated to propagating Buddhism, donating religious buildings and organising murals to be painted as a means of both decoration and giving knowledge to people. The meritous deeds of successive leaders can be seen throughout what is without doubt one of the most significant and awe-inspiring archaeological sites in Asia. Of the murals at Bagan, there are five in particular that stand out and span the different eras of Myanmar history. The first is the mural at Gyu Pyaut Gyi Temple in Myinkabar quarter, which was donated by royal price Yazakumar in the Bagan era and covers 4779.9 square feet. The second is Thiho Pone Pagoda, situated in the compound of Sin Phyu Shin Monstery in Bagan Min Nanthu quarter. Donated by King Sin Phyu Shin in the Pinya era, about 500 square feet of the mural remains. Thirdly, there is Taung Bee Pitaka Thike (pitaka thike means library) from the Inwa era in Bagan Taung Bee quarter, of which 308 square feet remains. Hman Si Pagoda of the Nyaung Yan era in Bagan Phwar Saw quarter covers 384 square feet, while last but not least the mural at the Konbaung-era Shwe Kyaung Oo Pagoda in Bagan Taung Bee quarter covers 215 square feet. Murals spanning these five eras can only be seen in the Bagan historical zone, and because they are collected together in one place makes it easier to look back at each era through the murals. Myanmar traditional painting started in the Bagan era and it developed after the arrival of Theravada Buddhism.

mural6     SweSone 201301 yainflight34     

Buddhists originally maintained the pitaga, or scriptures, through word of mouth, but later on they were recorded in literature. There are three pitaga and together they are called pitaga thone pone. The winaya pitaga contains the complete teachings of the Buddha, the thuta pitaga the code of conduct and the abhidhamma pitaga the Buddhist doctrine. The Bagan murals describe stories from pitaga thone pone. A feature of traditional painting through the five eras is the combined use of figure and kanok, a traditional art style that depicts convoluted lotus stems, buds and blossoms. Among the temples in Bagan containing murals, Gu Pyauk Gyi Temple in Myinkabar quarter has rerained almost 5000 square feet of murals. The colours remain almost as vivid as if they were painted yesterday. The temple was donated by royal Prince Yazakumar and he inscribed the donation on stone in four languages: Pyu, Mon, Pali and Myanmar. The stone windows of the pagoda are very beautiful and many of the inside wall are decorated with murals. The paint was applied thickly in a range of colours, including light blue, pink and dark red. My favorite mural is on the walls along the stairway to the stone windows on the southern wall. It depicts Bagan ladies who visited the temple adorned elegantly. One of two dancers who are watched by the group of ladies has eyes that burn with life and it seems like she is almost breathing. For Pinya-era murals, there’s only one place to look and that’s Sin Phyu Shin Monastery, which can be found on the road in Bagan Nanthu before Myauk Phat Min Nanthu village. The monastery is inside two compounds: the outer wall is 800 feet in circumference and the inner wall 400 feet. There are stupas,a monastery,convocation hall and a lake in the compound. Compared to the Baganera style, the murals at Thiho Pone Pagoda in Sin Phyu Shin Monastery are more decorative and they should be considered a herald of the Inwa, Nyaung Yan and Konbaung eras.

mural7        mural           mural3     mural8

A further difference from the Bagan style is the use of green, brown and red and also thick black lines in the murals. An Inwa-style mural can be seen at Taung Bee Pitaka Thike in Bagan Taung Bee quarter. The art work at the entrance of the pitaka thike, or library, is amazing and more striking because of the use of the contrasting colours red and green. The soldiers of Marnat (a man who tried to get rid of Guatama Buddha) are particularly attractive.

SweSone 201301 yainflight35


SweSone 201301 yainflight36

A number of features indicate the mural is from the Inwa era, aside from the text and date: the three-quarter face depiction, big eyes and plump cheek are all unique trademarks of the Inwa period. I imagine very few people would think that Hman Si temple in Bagan Phywar Saw quarter was built during the Nyaung Yan era. The small temple is situated alone in the middle of agricultural fields and does not get much attention from visitors. To get to the entrance, you first have to navigate a large hole dug by fortune hunters. The murals feature heavy use of green and white colours, as well as brown lines and flowery motifs. The paintings on the ceiling remain in their original state, with traditional gods drawn individually. In contrast, many Konbaung-era murals remain in Bagan at temples that are being actively looked after by the archaeological authorities. Shwe Kyaung Oo Pagoda in Taung Bee quarter is but one example of this fine legacy from the last in a rich succession of Myanmar empires, each of which left their mark on the incredible historical zone at Bagan.




Source : SweSone Yangon Airways Inflight Magazine

Author : Moh Moh Thaw



thumb_up Do you like this? Share it to friends..

comment Tell others what you think.. Your reviews and comments are valuable to others..

Get A Tour Quote [ Free ]

  1. Myanmar TOURISM EXPERTS love to send you a FREE estimated cost (a price quotation) for suitable tour package to you by email.
  2. 1. Where do you want to visit?
    Invalid Input
  3. Invalid Input
  4. 2. How many days do you intend to stay in Myanmar ?(*)
    Invalid Input
  5. 3. When do you intend to visit ?(*)
    Invalid Input
  6. 4. How many people in your group?(*)
    Invalid Input
  7. 5. Would you request for a guide?
    Invalid Input
  8. Your Name(*)
    Please let us know your name.
  9. Your Email(*)
    Please let us know your email address.
  10. Type additional requests.
  11. (*)

      RefreshInvalid Input

Looking for a hotel in Yangon? or Bagan?

We recommend...

Geo Discover Travel


Myanmar is a truly golden land. It represents not only the sparkling gilt pagodas but also the golden hearted people, on the plains and on the high mountains, smiling and forever hospitable to visitors.

It also represents the ripe golden stalks of paddy in our rural areas waving in the evening breeze where many Myanmar people grow up.

We are also proud of our country and our heritage and forever searching for ways to tell this to the world. That is why we had established our travel agency-to bring friends from all corners of the world to our Golden Land.

No. 193, 5th Floor, Bo Myat Htun Street, Botataung Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
Tel: (++95-1) 299057, ( ++95-9) 73253819, (++ 95-9 )25011740, (++95- 9)73122292
Fax: (++95-1)299057

Dandaryi Travel and Tours

More and more tourists from all over the world are making Myanmar a destination of choice attracted by its breathtaking scenic beauty, unspoiled environment, the archaeological appeal of the ancient city of Bagan, the sublime beauty of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the priceless gemstones and, above all, the hospitable people.

Address: No. 146, 3rd Floor, Anawrahta Street, Botahtaung Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
Tel: 95-1-297995, 95-1-5644447
Fax: 95-1-294058(IDD) P.O.Box: (1027).

We also recommend...

Hotel Loikaw

Hotel Loikaw offers a wide range of stylish designed rooms which are fully equipped with modern facilities and amenities. Each of the 25 rooms consisting of 13 Superior rooms and 12 Deluxe rooms is tastefully designed and furnished to the highest standard of comfort.

Address : 9 Street, Naung Yar (A) Quarter, Near Htee Ngar Yar Lake, Loikaw, Kayah State, Myanmar.

Phone : +95-(83) 22946, 22947
Email :
Website :

Yuzana Hotels & Resort

Memorable Services and Friendly Smiles are all yours as long as you are staying at Yuzana Hotels.
Address : Ngwe Saung Beach, Pathein, Irrawady Division.
Phone : 95 1 549600;543367, 581100-03 (Ex: 323/326/327)
Fax : 95 1 543835; 544998
Email :
Website :

Who's Online

We have 121 guests and no members online