The Burmese Buddha Pagan style statues and iconography as well as murals and painting in many of the Bagan (Pagan) temples were influenced by the Pyu and the Mons, who in turn were influenced by Buddhist pilgrims and tradespeople from India visiting Myanmar during the first Millennia after the birth of Christ.
The Mons, believed to be of Chinese origin were the first immigrants to settle in Thaton in lower Burma, whilst the Pyu of Tibeto-Burman origin were occupants of upper Burma. Both the Mon and the Pyu were followers of the Therevada Buddhist tradition introduced by visiting Indian Buddhists. The ruins of the great Pyu dynasty can be found on the outskirts of Pyay (formerly Prome), south of Pagan and well worth a visit.
Although Pagan was founded around 156 A.D., the building of Pagan or commonly known today as Bagan as it is now referred to was according to the glass Palace Chronicle built between 849-850 A.D., and then fell in 1284 A.D., although these dates are inconsistent.
The Kingdom of Pagan reached its zenith during the reign of King Anawrahta from 1044 – 1077 A.D., during this time he formalized the Theravada school of Buddhism and proclaimed it to be the main form of worship among his people.
Burmese Buddha Pagan Style
Stelae depicting Scenes from the life of Buddha – This stele shows the Indian/Hindu influence.
The many faces of the Pagan Buddha
These are examples of faces of the Buddha seen in the alcoves and recesses of the Ananda Temple in Bagan – built in 1105 A.D., during the reign of King Kyanzittha 1084-1113 A.D., the son of King Anawrahta and believed to be one of the greatest Burmese Kings. He continued in his fathers footsteps by further development of economic, social and cultural reforms that his father put in place during his reign.