Monday, January 21, 2013

The Paintings Of Pagan

Given the time that has passed since they were first created (10th–12thcenturies) and Burma’s climate, it is astonishing just how many of Pagan’s hundreds of amazing temples still have their murals intact. And in some temples the surface area painted is very extensive indeed. Despite a limited palate of only five or six colours, a deep faith and a creative sense enabled the artists to do a lot. Although the subject of all the murals is religious the artists were imaginative enough to be able to include numerous depictions of ‘ordinary’ life – court rituals, market scenes, landscapes, boat races, parades, etc. I was fortunate enough to visit many of the painted temples with Sarah Shaw (Jataka specialist from Oxford) and Elizabeth Howard-Moore (ancient SE Asian city historian from SOAS). What a difference it makes when you are with those who can explain what you are seeing. At the Gubyaukgyi Temple we had a good deal of fun trying to identify some of the 550 Jatakas depicted there. Here are some of the pictures I took of the murals.


brahmavihara said...

Dear Bhante Dhammika, in the previous Pagan series there was a horseheaded man playing the flute do you know the symbolism or significance of this. Thanks for posting these pics from Pagan what an amazing array artworks of an unbroken Buddhist culture.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Brahmavihara, there are several horse-headed beings, male and female, ambling around in the more obscure corners of Indian mythology. There is the horse-headed purisa yakkhini, women who lived in the Himalayas and were great seducers of men. They are occasionally mentioned in the Jatakas without any details given. Then of course there is Hayagriva, the horse-headed avatara of Vishnu who, like many Hindu deities, was later incorporated into Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism. The Nalanda sculpture probably depicts Tumbru who was one of the heavenly musicians (ghandarva) although why he had a horse’s head and played music I have no idea. Not unlike modern musicians, a few Indian mythological beings became popular and went on to have interesting careers, while the rest attracted attention for a brief period and then affectively disappeared.

Truth said...

Dear Ven.Bhante

How to become novice monk of ten precept under your guidance ? Will you become my preceptor and master ?
please let me know Ven.

"That monk who while young devotes himself to the Teaching of the Buddha illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds."

Please guide me .