Bagan’s murals reveal ancient links with Middle East

By observing the murals in Ba­gan, one can see a connection between Bagan and the Middle East region since ancient times, U Kyaw Myo Win, director of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Bagan Branch), told The Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM).


Of the 3,837 remaining an­cient pagodas in Bagan, 416 have mural paintings.


“The art of painting in My­anmar has kept pace with the world since the ancient Bagan era. I say it has been global. A tiny temple near Kyaukmyath­maw has murals depicting the Arabs of the Middle East, includ­ing camels, their fauna and flora. By looking at these paintings, we can conclude that a connection with the Middle East was estab­lished in the Bagan era. So, the Bagan era’s murals are not in­ferior to the world-class murals. With its own style and creation, Myanmar’s art of painting has reached the world-class for 1,000 years ago,” he said.


The artists of the Bagan era might have painted these mu­rals in the caves of the pagodas during the scorching summer, he suggested on his Facebook page.


“When they took a break from agricultural work during the extreme heat, they seemed to paint the cave walls while en­joying full sunlight and escaping the heat. The underlying layer of the walls may have dried with low humidity due to the summer heat, so this would be the best time to create murals,” he said.


These murals look like the artistic work of teams rather than individuals, while outstand­ing works by these artists show their extensive knowledge of Ja­takas of the Buddha’s life in ad­dition to painting, or some great Buddhist scholar Sayadaws might have closely supervised them during their drawings, he suggested.


In addition, masons, who prepared the undercoat layer in detail for the convenience of painters to paint murals, were found to have played an essen­tial role in the creation of these artistic works, he said. — MT/ZN