Gubyaukgyi Temple – The Temple of Everlasting Ancientness
Gubyaukgyi Temple is a Myanmar buddhist temple which was built in 1113 by Kyanzittha’s son Rajakumar. Located just to the left of the road as you enter Myinkaba in Bagan, this Buddhist construction, one of outstanding Bagan attractions drawing attention of numerous tourists, is a familiar image of Bagan travel for long.
» History Associated to Gubyaukgyi Temple
The Gubyaukgyi temple was built by Prince Yazakumar, the son of King Kyanzittha. In order to construct this temple, a lot of slaves of three villages were employed.
Background Behind Mon Style of Gubyaukgyi Temple
Around 1054 AD, after conquering the Mon capital of Thaton, the Burmese monarch and founder of the Pagan Empire Aniruddha brought the Mon king Makuta back to Bagan. After that he built the Mon-style Hindu Nanpaya temple in Myinkaba Village which influenced the construction of various Mon-style temples in Bagan including Gubyaukgyi Temple in Bagan. Most of these Bagan Mon-style temples have Mon language inscriptions.
Damage and Restoration
Gubyaukgyi temple has a number of issues about its physical condition revealed by the UNESCO in its conservation report of 16 Bagan temples and monuments. The exterior construction of the temple was lost while multiple areas of stucco were in danger of detachment. On the interior, the entrance was suffered from harsh damage from earthquakes.
For these problems, the UNESCO and UNDP coordinated to launch a project of preserving several temples and monuments in Bagan in 1984. The reconstruction of the temple was completed by 1991. The interior frescoes of the temple were largely cleaned, panels and stucco were enhanced and anti-insect chemicals were applied. Meanwhile, the temple was equipped with electrical equipment, including lights.
» Murals in Gubyaukgyi Temple
There are 547 well-preserved paintings in the Gubyaukgyi temple. They depict a numerous Jātakas – stories of Buddha’s previous lives. It is believed that Gubyaukgyi’s murals with their captions are the most perfect collection of Jātakas in Old Mon in the world. The difference between Jātaka paintings in the temple and those of other temples of Bagan is that Gubyaukgyi’s are unnumbered; the paintings are still in good condition.
Bengali Influence on Paintings’ Textiles in Gubyaukgyi Temple
Abeyadana is one of King Kyansittha’s wives. She is said to be came from Pattikera- a region in the southeast Bengal. That’s why there are maybe diplomatic relations with the region around the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th centuries. The culture exchange between the Pagan Empire and east India/Bengal at the time could also be recognized through Bihar or Bengal style painting in Bagan temples. The import of textile is one of way for stylistic motifs to enter Bagan.
Bengali influence is represented through the patterns on the textiles depicted in Gubyaukgyi Temple’s murals. You can find the temple’s paintings in multiple contexts such as on cushions Buddha is leaning on, in the form of fabrics spread below Buddha’s throne,etc.
There are some features in common between the stylistic motifs on textiles in Gubyaukgyi’s paintings and those popular in contemporaneous Bengal found by scholar Claudine Bautze-Picron. The first one is the popularity of repeated patterns of geometric shapes, such as circles, squares, diamonds, etc. The second similarity is striped patterns, especially around deities’ legs. The last is textiles use the motif of scrolls extended like arabesques into repeated circles.
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