Buddhas and Murals at the Po Win Caves, Monywa

high-definition creative commons photographs from Myanmar, showing one of the largest Buddhist cave complexes in the world and the murals they contain, together with further information.


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Po Win Daung is a large complex of 800+ sandstone caves around 20 km from Monywa, which have been dug out of the hills and contains what is considered to be one of the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in South-East Asia. Although it is not easy to date them, most of the murals appear to be from the 14th -18th centuries (Nyaungyang and early Konbaung dynasties).

The caves themselves are been carved out of the cliffs, and are man-made, not natural. They generally have small entrances, which may then open out onto a large indoor enclosure, where there are many statues on plinths and murals lining the walls and ceilings. The murals themselves are in a variety of styles and colours and illustrate Myanmar folklore, Jataka Stories and scenes from the Lives of the Buddhas, as well as being decorative on occasion.

The organisation of the murals is as follows, on the ceilings there are decorative murals of various sorts, but mainly abstract; in the upper register we see scenes from the Lives of the 28 Buddhas; and underneath the Life of Gotama Buddha; below that comes scenes from the Jatakas. Sometimes scenes from everyday life are interwoven with the legendary scenes. Most of the murals are in a remarkably good state of preservation, but some have decayed and really need to be preserved now before it is too late.



A Lintel atop a Temple at Po Win Daung


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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