The site of Bagan in Myanmar contains the largest surviving collection of ancient Buddhist mural painting in Southeast Asia. There are approximately 3000 brick temples at the site. At least 400 are sufficiently well preserved that the decorative scheme of the murals can be reconstructed. These temples span a period from the 11th century to the modern period.
Some have been significantly repainted, sometimes centuries after their original composition. We have been compiling a photographic record of these paintings for more than ten years. Our long-term goal is to link the styles and narrative contents of the paintings to the architectural plans of the monuments which they adorn. This approach may eventually enable us to understand the function of the paintings in the religious practices and ideology of Myanmar over this long period.
About the speakers
John N. Miksic received his PhD from Cornell University. He spent four years in Malaysia and nine in Indonesia. In 1987 he moved to the National University of Singapore. He founded the Archaeology Unit at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He has received a Special Recognition Award and the Pingat Bakti Setia long service award from the government of Singapore, and the title of Kanjeng Raden Harya Temenggung from the Susuhunan of Surakarta (Indonesia). Earlier this year, his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea (2013) won the inaugural NUS Singapore History Prize for best book on Singapore history.
Goh Geok Yian earned a PhD in history from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa after a degree in Southeast Asian studies at the National University of Singapore. She has been an editor for Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, and is currently Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University. Her research interests include Southeast Asian history and archaeology; archaeology, art, and history of Myanmar; heritage and cultural resource management in Southeast Asia; and translation and literary studies, in Burmese and Chinese.
Image: The Buddha and a naga deity. Early period mural from temple 0659, Winido village, Bagan.
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