The Burmese Buddha Art at Po Win Taung Caves is located 25 kilometres west of Monywa town in the Sagaing division, north west of Mandalay. Po Win Taung literally means “Mountain of Isolated Solitary Meditation”. The murals in this labyrinth of man made caves display a mixture of Animism and Buddhist beliefs. Mythical beings, flowers and animals alongside that of Buddhist art depicting murals relating to the Jataka tales.
The site of the Po Win Taung caves consists of approximately 790 caves and nearly a thousand temple shrines carved into the stone on various levels. Many of the entrances to the caves are framed by partially, in the round sculptures of human beings, demons and animals which serve to guard the shrines. Most of the Buddha statues within the caves are typical of the Ava style, seated on stone which has been carved from and still part of the cave walls.
It is not clear when the murals on the cave walls and ceilings were first created, studies indicate they may have developed during the period when Ava became the capital of the kingdom after the fall of Pagan in 1287 and a continuation of this period.
Much of the evolution of the architecture, sculptural art and iconography can be traced to the second Ava period in the 17th century up until the present day. Many of the original murals on the walls of the caves have been damaged due to haphazard attempts at restoration.