G376
BURMA PAGAN PERIOD 12 - 13TH CENTURY H. 12.5 CMS, 5 INS A captivating pale sandstone Buddha head with a calm expression and half-open eyes cast downwards in meditation, with flaring eyebrows framing a small urna and a smooth tapering usnisha. A Tibetan-Burman race known as the Mranma established their capital at Pagan, on the left bank of the Irrawaddy in Burma's dry zone. The founder of the Pagan dynasty, Anawrahta (r. 1044-1077), launched a series of military campaigns against Arakan in the west, the Shan in the east and the Mon kingdom to the south, thereby uniting Burma for the first time in its history. Anawrahta and his successors embraced the Theravada Buddhism of Sri Lanka and built approximately two thousand temples, stupas, monasteries, libraries and ordination halls - the largest concentration of monuments in the entire Buddhist world. The city fell to the Mongols in 1287 and political power became dispersed among the Mon, Shan, Burmese and Arakanese. The Payathonzu temple, Pagan (meaning "three pagodas") is a complex of three interconnected shrines built in the middle part of the 13th century, shortly before the Mongol invasions. For a seated Buddha from the Payathonzu temple, dated circa 1260 and closely related to this head, see p. 267 in D. Stadtner, Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit. Bankgok: River Books, 2005. For a second image, in the Pagan Museum, see fig. 279 in in M. Girard-Geslan et al, Art of Southeast Asia,New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1998. PROVENANCE: Private English collection.