Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beauty Needs No Name.


Miu has been doing an excellent job taking us around to see the sights in Bagan. He's been mixing things up so we don't tire of seeing any one thing.  After spending time seeing a large temple like Htilominlo that is very popular with tourists, he took us next to a cluster of very small pagodas that I don't think many people come to.  If the collective group of pagodas has a name, I don't know what it is.  In fact, as we drive around Bagan, I notice that many of the clusters are simply named "Cluster xyz" with *xyz* being a number.

Miu brought us to this particular cluster because one pagoda - it's unique because the interior walls are not painted; they are covered with cloth.  With no name, I could not Google to find out more information e.g., when the cloth was applied.


We entered one of the larger small  pagodas.  There were some painted frescoes at the entrance. 


Miu pointed to a section of wall where there was a strip of something that looked like a fresco but in fact, it was cloth.


If you look closely at the top third of the photo below, you will see the fraying edge.


Another section of wall with the cloth.  The design looks very Indian influenced to me.  It's a beautiful pattern.


Inside, there was a single Buddha.  The pagoda was so small that's all there was room for.


The area around the Buddha was framed in a border painted with more intricate designs.


There were yet more frescoes and a Buddha in another one of the pagodas in the cluster.  As we entered, Miu pointed out a small section that, long ago, had been defaced by a tourist.  Seriously.  I don't understand why people feel the need to destroy anything that does not belong to them.



On the wall behind the Buddha and on the ceiling above was a fresco of painted Buddhas.  The detail work is very fine.  Considering how dark this small room is, it's incredible the painters were able to decorate the place.



Looks like a miniature version of Htilominlo.

Back outside, Miu directed us to walk around to see what he referred to as the *Leaning Pisa* of pagodas.  Indeed, one of them is leaning.  Presumably, it's leaning because of upheaval due to natural forces - perhaps an earthquake.


We just had a few minutes left before we had to get back into the van so I quickly darted around the site just to have a quick look at the pagodas.  Bagan is literally filled with these small pagodas.  I think you could probably visit each one and not see two of the same.  It's incredible here!  Sadly, neither all of Old Bagan nor even a single pagoda or temple here is not inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  That's because in the military government's rush to attract tourists to the region, they did not properly restore sites in accordance with UNESCO guidelines.  It is possible to *undo* some of the damage that's been done but that will take financial resources and skills that the Myanmar sorely lacks.  In the meantime, people from all over the world still flock to this small town to admire its treasures.  I just hope that the increasing number of tourists coming to Bagan don't inflict further damage to these structures.


I feel like it's already been a full morning of sightseeing but we still have one more place to go before we can break for lunch.

Ananda, here we come!