Although there are discrepancies related to the actual dates in which Burma’s Buddhist Art Pagan dynasty flourished. Archeologists have uncovered stone tablets and Buddhist iconography with Pali and Mon script which suggest between 9 A.D. and 1287 A.D.

Gordon H. Luce author of “Old Burma – Early Pagan’s” books suggest that Pagan according to Shin Silavanthsa, the first historian of Burma (1455-1520 AD), whose studies survive until this day, state that after the passing of the Buddha the Kingdom of Sarekhettara (Sri Ksetra) had been established for 600 years.

One hundred years later the Kingdom of Pagan then referred to as Arimaddana was founded by King Pyusawhti which would indicate the date to be around 156 C.E., of the founding of Pagan and it’s fall in 1284 A.D.

Gordon H. Luce states that Shin Silavanthsa’s studies on the founding of Pagan show some discrepancies and that Silavanthsa’s has mistakenly placed the fall of Sri Ksetra and the founding of Pagan six to seven hundred years before they actually occurred.

Pyu urn inscriptions show the Vikrama dynasty still reigned at Sri Ksetra as late as 718 A.D., which would suggest that Pagan had it’s beginnings in 849-850 A.D., and that it would be unlikely to be earlier than this; also Pagan  was not mentioned in the list of Pyu settlements or town in 802 A.D.

However, regardless of the dates Pagan (Bagan) stands today as one of the richest historical Buddhist sites in Burma with wall art, iconography, pagodas, stupas and monasteries in varying degrees of decay.

Pagan today as it was in the distant past is a sandy windswept plain on which little grows except for the toddy palm, tamarind trees, Indian elm and bombax where there is subsoil water. It is a world heritage site and

Examples of Burmese Buddha Statues found in Pagan and Pagan Style.

Late Eleventh to Early Fourteenth Centuries

Excerpt from Alexandra Green’s Trends in Myanmar Wall Paintings from the eleventh to the twentieth centuries.

Over the course of more than 300 years, thousands of buildings were constructed on Bagan’s plain. These temples came in all shapes and sizes from large cruciform designs with circumlocutory corridors to small, single-celled shrines, and of the structures that are still standing, many contain evidence of having once been painted in their entirety with imagery comprising narratives, icons, and ornamental sections.

For instance, there is Brahmanic and Mahayanist material, and Tantric imagery may also exist, but has been little studied. Bodhisattas function as guardian figures and flank doorways. There are also images of the Buddha reclining on cosmic waters and other cosmological features, such as Lake Anotatta. Monks, particularly the Buddha’s foremost disciples Sariputta and Moggallana, and the gods Sakka (Indra) and Brahma, protectors of the Buddhist faith, are seen regularly.

The Buddha’s footprint or a lotus form is usually found on the ceiling, emphasizing the purity of the space and the presence of the Buddha. Sometimes thousands of tiny Buddhas with geometric or floral surrounds create a honeycomb pattern on ceilings and occasionally walls.

This is a wonderful and informative paper on the wall murals and Iconography in Pagan.with explanations and images on the walls of temples in Pagan.

Burma’s Buddhist Art Pagan

Murals on Wall of Ananda Temple in Bagan
Burma's Buddhist Art Pagan
Deity Murals on Wall of Ananda Temple