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The Pagan Period: Burma’s Classic Age – 11th To 14th Centuries

The Pagan Period: Burma’s Classic Age – 11th To 14th Centuries

Part 2


C.  Architecture

1. General Characteristics

a. Major types of Buildings

The remains of a variety of building types are found at Pagan including stupas, temples, monasteries, ordination halls and libraries.

Stupas are solid structures that typically cannot be entered and were constructed to contain sacred Buddhist relics that are hidden from view (and vandals) in containers buried at their core or in the walls. Temples have an open interior that may be entered and in which are displayed one or more cult images as a focus for worship.  Although this simple distinction between Stupa and temple is useful, the distinction is not always clear. There are stupas such as the Myazedei that have the external form of a stupa but are like a temple with an inner corridor and multiple shrines.

Floor plan of Myazedei

Floor plan of Myazedei

Exterior View of Myazedei from South

Exterior View of Myazedei from South

003-Corridor within Myazedei

Corridor within Myazedei

Also, there are temples that enshrine a small stupa instead of an image of the Buddha while numerous temples have a diminutive stupa atop their tower (shikhara) or towers.

004-Temple with stupa inside, general view

Temple with stupa inside, general view

Temple with stupa inside, detail

Temple with stupa inside, detail

A third building type of which there are abundant examples is the monastery that can be either a one-room building or a vast complex of buildings.  Libraries and ordination halls appear to have been infrequently built but are also found among the structures at Pagan.

Domestic architecture, including the royal palace, was constructed of wood and consequently, has completely vanished. The only trace of these wooden buildings is the pattern of the post-holes that were dug to contain the supporting timbers.

The structures at Pagan vary greatly in scale from very small one-room structures to enormous temples with multiple floors and shrines that soar to 200 feet.  The eleven largest buildings at Pagan are all royal foundations that were built before 1300. Each contains within its mass more than fifty times as much material as the average temple or stupa. Therefore, the volume of these eleven buildings is equivalent to one quarter of the building activity during the Pagan Period.

b. Organization

Temples and stupas, even though adjacent to one another, were generally designed to stand alone as single buildings without planned relationships between one another. A boundary wall, thought be a protection against fire, surrounded the largest and most important buildings.

These enclosing walls were usually square with an entrance in the middle of each side. The main buildings, at times raised on a platform, were located in the center of this large enclosure with smaller structures placed around them.

View of gatehouse and boundary wall, Htilominlo Temple

View of gatehouse and boundary wall, Htilominlo Temple

Massive boundary wall surrounding Htilominlo Temple

Massive boundary wall surrounding Htilominlo Temple

c. Materials and Techniques

All Pagan structures were made of brick plastered with stucco except for three buildings that were made of stone or were faced with stone.

Nanpaya Temple, brick faced with stone

Nanpaya Temple, brick faced with stone

Nanpaya Temple, Cross section

Nanpaya Temple, Cross section

Nanpaya Temple, Elevation, side view

Nanpaya Temple, Elevation, side view

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Preliminary Report on the Discovery of Mesolithic Tools in Shinma-daung Area, Central Myanmar

BY : U WIN KYAING

Abstract

First and new discovery of pure Mesolithic site has ever been found in southeastern area of Shinma-daung, it is located in the heart o f dry zone of Middle Myanmar. Although systematic investigation on the site and its cultural materials are still to be necessarily proceeded, the author urgently attempt to nominate the site and its tools belong to “pure Mesolithic culture” comparing with neighbouring occurrences.

Introduction

During January, 2007, an exploration by the author and a staff of Pakhangyi Archaeological Museum has made to record Megalithic site near Kyauk-htet Village in Yesagyo Township, Pakokku District. Kyauk-htet Village lies on the west 3 miles from Pakokku-Mandalay Road near the mile-post 9/1. Unfortunately it was known that that Megalithic site made up of fossilized wood (Ingyin-kyauk) had been destroyed by the hunters of wood-fossils when the illegal markets of such fossil-woods were taken place in Upper Myanmar during this decade. But two more items of archaeological interest was fortunately investigated in this area;

Discovery Mesolithics_ 2007-10

Discovery Mesolithics_ 2007-10

(i) an big old mound of iron-slag near by the western side of the village, it shows that in the past there was traditional iron smelting and production, villagers call this mound as “thangyi-daung (the hill of iron-ore waste)”, it has about 3-4 meters high and 1 acre wide, as the surface-finds on its there can be collected some pieces of terracotta tubes used for air-blowing in furnaces and

(ii) discovery of microlithic tools while searching for a location, from where once found the so-called chin beads according to the local information. The bead-site had not been recovered although tried to find with the help of villagers. For two hours searching on the ground there could be noticed the chipped stone pieces in white colour are spread in the area of sandstone bed-plain. Owing to different colours of the tools from the brownish of ground, white chipped stone pieces can be easily found on the surface. Supposed tools of almost are sized in about thumb and finger-tips, so these are suggested micro or mesolithics. Numerous chipped or discards are also identified along with true tool-types. They are mostly made up of quartzite, therefore almost colour in white. This area is locally called “myauk-kangyi kon” (higher plain near northern lake called as Hton-moat-kan) hence there is a big annual lake, situated 1 mile far from the north of Kyauk-htet village. Another following exploration to the same site had been done in April 2007, and it could have been collected more numerous Mesolithic tools.

Geographical Background

Kyauk-htet Mesolithic stone tool site locates on the plain, which is to say belonging to the Kyauk-htet Taung hill-range area. Its bed soil Shinma-daung Sandstone Bed is overlaid by Nyaung Oo Red Earth and Magwe Sand of Pleistocene and Post Pleistocene Aeolian deposit. These are major soil types for the agriculture of Central Dry Zone. Shinma-daung sandstone is locally known as The’daw-kyauk in connection with the production of sandstone construction-materials near by the village named The’daw in the area. The’daw-kyauk is generally look-liked light pinkish colour with the forming of more fine sand percentage. In the surrounding areas of Shinma-daung, there were existed the sandstone mines viz; in the northeastern site_ Taung-U sandstone mine and southeastern_ The’daw mine, since the ancient time. These sandstones have being exploited for construction purposes of religious buildings, worshipping statues, ornamental stone-carvings and multiple traditional artifacts, which cultural materials could be visible plentifully throughout Ancient Pakhangyi region. Even nowadays local people still uses these sandstones in road-paving, foundation, floor of house building, retaining well, pot, caskets, quern, pillar of ordination hall, and etc. Shinma-daung area belongs to a part of the Shwezetaw Sandstones Stage considering the lithological and palaeontological agreement. Shwezetaw Sandstones stage is the first group among the six stages of Pegu Series, estimated occurrence during the Oligocene- Miocene Era (circa.25 million years). The Pegu Series is generally understood to embrace the Post-Eocene and pre-Ayeyarwaddian deposits of Myanmar. There represented the fine –grained, soft and pinkish colored sandstones which tend to form a very steep scarp slope conspicuous in local topography(Chibber,1934).

Remote View of Shinma-daung Seen from Kyauk-htet Summit

Remote View of Shinma-daung Seen from Kyauk-htet Summit

Mesolithic Site, North of the Village and West of Kyauk-htet Hill

Mesolithic Site, North of the Village and West of Kyauk-htet Hill

Close up View of Mesolithic Site

Close up View of Mesolithic Site

Surface Finds of Mesolithic Tools Occurred on Upper Pleistocene Deposit

Surface Finds of Mesolithic Tools Occurred on Upper Pleistocene Deposit

Stratigraphy showing Upper Pleistocene Deposit in Reddish Colour, Below lies weathered Shinma-daung Sandstone Bed (Early Miocene Era) in Deep-pinkish Colour

Stratigraphy showing Upper Pleistocene Deposit in Reddish Colour, Below lies weathered Shinma-daung Sandstone Bed (Early Miocene Era) in Deep-pinkish Colour

Surface Finds of Mesolithic Tools

Surface Finds of Mesolithic Tools

In addition to the geographical point of view, the environment of Kyauk-htet Mesolithic tool site is surrounded by lower hill ranges known as Seikgyo-taung, Chin-taung, and Bagyi-taung also known as Kyauk-htet taung in northwest to east direction and Kyaukhpu taung and Taung-ni in the west. Among these hills Kyauk-htet taung is the highest (960 ft), due to its tallest the hill range is called as Kyauk-htet taungdan. This hill range is topographically slopes down from Shindaung (1723 ft) in the north and old river terraces to the east.

Shinma-daung is a series of elongated hills about thirty miles long, running north and south between the Yesagyo and Myaing Townships (Owens, 1913). This region is wellknown in Myanmar for the plant of sanakha (Limonia acidissima), a natural plant grown in the Dry Forest, a kind of tree the bark and root of which are used in making a fragrant paste for cosmetic purposes. The natural plant of sanakha grows in the weathering condition of tropical climate with the less rainfall, the growing soils approve red earth, sand bed mixing gravels. It is similarly survives in such type of acacious and thorny forest of tropical arid zone of Middle Myanmar. Shinma-daung area actually closed to the conflucence of Ayeyarwaddy and Chindwin river, dealing its wavy plains interrelated with old river terraces of west of these two mighty rivers.

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THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

U Aung Thaw
Introductory
Although Burma prossesses a potential wealth of stone-age materials prehistoric research was done very spasmodically. Polished stone implements of different size are often found on the ground surface in many parts of the country but they usuelly fall into the hands of those collectors who believe in the superstitions attached to the socalled ‘thunderbolts’. The first to draw their attention in Burma as prehistoric implements appears to be W.Theobold of the Geological Survey of India, who in 1873, recognized certain remarkable peculiarities of the polished stone implements from Burma. Among the few persons who later took interest in such stone implements was T.O Morris Who made an intensive study of the neolithic tools in Upper Burma. However, the first systematic exploration of prehistoric sties was made only in 1937-38 by the American South-East Asiatic Expedition for Early Man led by Dr.Hellmut de Terra and Prof. Hallam L.Movius. The Collected materials from Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites on the terraces along the middle course of the Irrawaddy and explored some caves in the Shan States. As a result of the study of those materials the palaeolithic culture of the region was properly recognized and was named the Anyathian culture. The caves in the Shan States, however, were superficially investigated and on finding traces of neolithic occupation only the expedition did not excavate in them as their object was to study the early, i.e. palaeolithic man in Burma.

I-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1)

I-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1)

II-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1) (Man On Scaffolding Copies The Paingtings On The Wall)

II-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1) (Man On Scaffolding Copies The Paingtings On The Wall)

III-INTERIOR VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (2)

III-INTERIOR VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (2)

Appreciating the need for systematic exploration and excavation the Archaeological Department has chalked out a programme for the exploration of river terraces and open sites. However, the unveiling of ancient city sites comes to the forefront and still claims the all-out efforts fo the few available hands on its staff. Fortunately, the first prehistoric expedition could be launched at the instigation and support of the Central Organization Committee Headquarters of the Burma Socialist Programme Party. An expedition team composed of research workers drawn from the Archaeological Department, the Burma Historical Commission and the departments of Anthropology, Geology and Zoology of the Rangoon Arts and Science University together with representatives from the Party headquarters was organized by the Party to explore the Padah-lin caves and it was able to set upon its task on the 9th January 1969.

FIG (4) REPRODUCTION OF PAINTINGS IN CAVE (1)

FIG (4) REPRODUCTION OF PAINTINGS IN CAVE (1)

The existence of what look like prehistoric paintings in one of the cave of Padah-lin was first discovered by a geologist, U Khin Maung Kyaw, sometime in 1960. Recently it was brought to the notice of the Party heandquarters which felt the need to substantiate the fact for incorporation in the basic political history of Burma being compiled by the Party. A preliminary survey of the caves was conducted bye the Party headquarters before the main team commenced work. The Archaeological Department took the responsibility to organize excavation in the caves which is the main function of the expedition.

The Caves

The locality in which the caves are situated is a submontane region west of the Shan Plateau falling within the Panlaung Reserved Forest area classified as a fairly dense jungle with bamboo. They lie close to the north of the packtrack from Nyanunggyat to Yebok village in Ywangan or Yengan Township in Taunggyi district, Southern Shan State, the distance from Nyaunggyat (Latitude 21 6 1/2′ N Longitude 96 18′ E) being 4 miles and from Yebok 1 mile.

To the east of Yebok rises the Nwalabo range with peaks over 4500 feet high. The caves are in the spur of a foothill 1000 feet above sea level. The Yebok stream, a tributary of the Panlaung river passess through Yebok in its southward course and meets the river four miles away. The Panlaung which rises further south turns a westerly direction for about two miles from the confluence and meanders northward. The rocky terrain between Nyaunggyat and Yebok is uninhabited. It is only along the Panlaung river that small villages are found, e.g. Taungbon, Nyaunggyat, Neyaunggga, Kyidaing and Maunggwe, reckoning from south to north.

The western margin of the Shan Plateau in which the caves lie is, generally speaking, a broad belt of limestion which is a prominent member of the rocks characterizing the Shan State. This plateau limestion varies from an almost pure calcite to a true dolomite.

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Myin Pya Gu (No.1493)

Myin Pya Gu (No.1493)

Myin-pya-gu hav been attributed either to the end of Anawrahta’s reign or the beginning of his son Sawlu’s reign (1077-1084). Votive tablets bearing the seals of both kings have been found in this large temple, sited south of the old city will. The quadrilateral structure rises in the shape of a stupa yet it has wide internal corridors. A single entrance faces west. The walls are lined with niches housing lifesize images of the Buddha and the interior was extensively decorated with scences from this jatakas. Luce notes that the niche are arranged fourteen on each side, totaling 28 in each half of the temple. The number of niches is no dubt related to the 28 former Buddhas. However, at the Myin-pya-gu, these niches do not all contain images of seated Buddhas. Most of the seated images are in bhumisparsa mudra and, according to Luce, “of the ‘Aniruddha type’, with long torso, conical usnisa and flame-niche (this last generally lost). Ears touch shoulders”. The faces are a little less rounded than those typical of Anawrahta’s reign, a feature that supports the proposed dating of this sculptures. The torsos are slightly elongated and very upright. Some features, however, are not typical and suggest either later repairs or damage. A number of the earth-touching hands have even fingers. This is not a characteristic of images in the early Bagan period but developed later in the 12 th century. The hair caps are smooth on a number of the sculptures. This is also a feature that is associated with images of the later Bagan period. Perhaps the original stucco curls had fallen off and repairs were made in the style of the day.

(Myin Pya Gu Exterior) (Late Anawrahta Period) (1070-1075)

(Myin Pya Gu Exterior) (Late Anawrahta Period) (1070-1075)

(Myin Pya Gu Plan) (Late Anawrahta Period) (1070-1075)

(Myin Pya Gu Plan) (Late Anawrahta Period) (1070-1075)

As well as housing repetitive images of the earth-touching Buddha there are life scenes including the Buddha sheltered by Mucalinda and the Fasting bodhisattva. While both are badly damaged the overall composition is consistent with a date of around 1075-1084. Seven sparate naga heads frame the Buddha’s head and shoulders. Rounded hair curls are still visible on this sculpture. The right hand and lower arm has been repaired, the hand has fingers of equal length and the arm is close to the body, crossing the shin in an almost central position. The fasting image is similar to the figure in Kyauk-ku-umin although, in this temple, the Buddha is on his own without any devas in attendance.

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Halin (Hanlin, Halin-gyi)

Halin (Hanlin, Halin-gyi)

Halin (Chart 1, Figure 95 & Figure 99), with its substantial record of Late Prehistoric materials which appear to be linked to ongoing salt exploitation, is a special case in the expansion from the homeland. It is the only one of the four major sites with demonstrated and substantial pre-urban occupation of what later became a walled settlement, although it may be more accurate to say, since most of the known Late Prehistoric finds are south of the walls adjacent to the salt fields, that the walled complex was built beside, rather than on, the earlier area of occupation. Salt extraction has been recorded since the colonial period (Scott 1900: 116 Vol 1, Part 2 & 295-296 Vol 2, Part 1; Scott 1921: 253; Williamson 1929: 124-126, 141-143; Nyo Win 2001a) and remains of broad earthenware bowls that may have been precursors of the metal troughs currently used for reducing brine to salt have been recovered by local farmers, with some examples kept in the Nine Banyan Trees Monastery museum at Halin.

Iron Hoes, Adzes And Spearheads Halin (Halin Monastery Museum)

Iron Hoes, Adzes And Spearheads Halin (Halin Monastery Museum)

Coins Excavated At Halin

Coins Excavated At Halin

Characteristic Halin Srivatsa Rising Sun Coin

Characteristic Halin Srivatsa Rising Sun Coin

The geographical location of Halin supports the idea of a special function such as salt production rather than the prehistoric exploitation of networks of local streams for irrigation (see page 126). Maps (Figure 95) show the former bed of the Mu to the east of the present Mu river (Digital Chart of the World 1993), and a largely dry lake south of Halin (Burma One Inch series, 84 N/15). The geologically disrupted drainage system suggests that in prehistoric times this area may not have had the same access to irrigation resources as Beikthano or Maingmaw. In the Bagan period (Figure 96), the Mu canal was built from Myedu in the north, draining into the lake, Halin In, as the area was opened up for irrigated farming, and this system was extended in colonial times (Aung-Thwin 1990: 22-26, 72), but there is nothing to suggest that there was an earlier system of canal irrigation. The Halin/Shwebo area contains a number of Bagan period inscriptions (Figure 96), and there are similarities to Bagan in ceramics, with a red libation jar from Halin overpainted in white lines and dots (Myint Aung 2003: 112-113) comparable to a sample excavated in Bagan in 2003 (page 230).

Gold Filled Teeth Halin

Gold Filled Teeth Halin

Bronze Sword Handle Halin

Bronze Sword Handle Halin

Bronze Sword Handle Pommel Of Previous Figure Halin

Bronze Sword Handle Pommel Of Previous Figure Halin

Bronze Sword Handles Reverse View Of items in previous figures

Bronze Sword Handles Reverse View Of items in previous figures

The earliest capital of the Pyu, according to the Za-bu-kon-cha (page 29), Halin was first explored by archaeologists in 1905. Taw Sein Ko, director of archaeology, excavated ten sites, but was disappointed because the excavations did not yield the museum pieces he was seeking. His sites 1- 10 on the map (Figure 99), shown in black circles, are identified in the text as TSK to avoid confusion with the later excavated or explored sites which were numbered again from 1 in the 1960s by the Archaeology Department. The initial excavations were based largely on information from local people about discoveries of treasure, real or imagined. In one case, a site was excavated because someone had dreamed there was treasure buried there. Taw Sein Ko mapped the city walls and noted that the salt industry had denuded the area of fuel. Local people provided several silver coins and gold ornaments, and told the investigator that many bronze figures, coins or ornaments had been sold or melted down for the metal. These included figures of elephants, horses, bulls and serpents which had been dug up in a dry stream, TSK 7 (Figure 99). The now-vanished figures were described by the locals as having been filled with “medicinal or alchemical ashes”, although this might simply have been burnt clay cores from the lost-wax process. One useful find, at TSK 6, was a Pyu stone inscription which was attributed paleographically to the 4th century AD or earlier (AWB 1905: 7-10; ASB 1915: 21-23). This appears to be a funerary record, referring to the bones of Lord Ruba, son of Lord Davi-ni-mli and grandson of N-ga Kno. While not bearing a specific date, it provides three names of people who were most likely residents of the city, and of sufficient importance to merit commemoration in stone. Other Pyu inscriptions found at Halin (location of the finds is shown on the plan) refer by name to (King) Sri Trivigrama (Trivikrama) and Queen Candradevi (Luce 1985: 149, Vol 1). “Trivikrama” is the name of an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, who can set foot on several worlds at the same time and conquer them (Nai Pan Hla 1972b). Aung-Thwin agrees that Sri Trivikrama appears to be a general royal title, and points out that Luce’s Queen Candradevi can also be read as Sri Jatradevi. Another stone mentions Mahadevi Sri Jatra (Aung-Thwin 2004 Ch 7). The vikrama suffix is shared with a dynasty at Sriksetra (see page 138). The South Indian script in the Sri Trivikrama inscription has been proposed as 8th-9th century AD (Aung Thaw 1972: 13).

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Excarvation At Tagaung

TAGAUNG

The lack of a western wall at Tagaung has been attributed to a number of factors. The most debated of these is a westward movement of the Ayeyarwaddy in the geologically recent past from the bed of the ‘Old Ayeyarwaddy’ east of the present site to that of the Meza Chaung.41 Working within this premise, one of the present authors has suggested that not only the location but also the layout may have conformed to a tradition that first millennium AD walled cities associated with Pyu-speaking groups had nine quadrants.42 There are today three walled areas at Tagaung: Wall 1 (19 hectares) around a low hillock on the north, Wall 2 (62 hectares) known as Anya Bagan and Wall 3 (204 hectares) which encloses the other two walls. All three, however, are missing the western wall. When the nine quadrants are plotted to form an oval-shaped city plan, site TG31, excavated in 2003-2004, falls in the northeast quadrant of the old city. As the finds from TG31 and Hsin Hynat to the south support our note above of links beyond Myanmar, in this case to Yunnan, we will return to TG31 and Hsin Hynat. First, however, we discuss Bagan and the natural resources of Tagaung that together with its location ensured continued patronage from its founding to the present.

myanmar-archaeological-5

myanmar-archaeological-61

myanmar-archaeological-7

Tagaung and Bagan are closer to the Ayeyarwaddy than Halin, Maingmaw, Waddi or Beikthano.44 While
the west wall of both is currently the Ayeyarwaddy, each may once have been farther from the bank and the threat of flood. At Bagan, Daw Thin Gyi concluded from aerial photographs that the west wall has been gradually lost to the Ayeyarwaddy through erosion and flood.45 A jutting out of the river at the village of Myit Khe (‘lower portion’) north of Bagan also supports its gradual eastward shift. Beyond this, however, comparison weakens, for Bagan’s setting may have obviated the need for fortification on the immediate east while the ecology and location of Tagaung may have required it. The site’s strategic position on the Yunnan frontier is evident in the array of Tagaung artefacts attributed to its use by the 11th century AD Anawrahta as part of his east flank fortification.46 Ores may additionally explain Anawrahta’s interest in Tagaung, with silver continuing in use at Bagan for land and slave purchases.47 Tagaung afforded access to the silver mines of Bawdwin and Yadanatheingyi at Namtu in around Mogok. It is also via Mogok and the Shweli and Taping (Tabein) rising in the uplands that Tagaung linked to Yunnan via Muse and Bhamo.48 Other resources including jade, copper and iron were reachable by the Meza and Uru watercourses to the north and northwest.49

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Koke-ko-khar-hla site was flourished during the transitional period from Bronze-Age to Iron-Age

Koke-ko-khar-hla site was flourished during the transitional period from Bronze-Age to Iron-Age

Koke-ko-khar-hla Bronze age site is located in Wundwin township of Mekithila District. Excavated finds are bronze and iron implements, skeletons, stone and bone beads, and different types of grave potteries. Study of excavated finds suggest that Koke-ko-khar-hla site was flourished during the transitional period from Bronze-Age to Iron-Age.

(REF : http://www.myanmar.com/Ministry/culture/)

Samon Bronzes

Pyu Iron Age Site In Myanmar