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Sulamani Temple

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The red brick temple is step pyramidal on a square base and is oriented to the east. There are two major levels with porches at each of the cardinal points and prominent eastward-facing doorways. Each of the ascending squares has pilasters in the form of stupas at the corners and a beautifully wrought sikhara, restored since the devastating earthquake of July 1975, crowns the entire complex. Each of the major levels has inner ambulatories running along the perimeter with niches for Buddhas. Ascent to the second story and upper levels is now prohibited here as it is with most Bagan temples.

 

Important features of the Sulamani include its fine brickwork and use of stone in both load-bearing areas as well as on vulnerable external corner elements. The numerous original unique glazed roundels and panels along the plinth and terrace moldings add joy and exuberance to the exterior, while the rich frescoes on the stuccoed interior ambulatory(from the 12th to 19th centuries)—though damaged—with their lively depiction of both the sublime and the grotesque reflect a constant interplay of the physical and mythical light and darkness. The first story ambulatory is lit well enough from its doorways and windows to permit available light photographs of the frescoes. A wall with elaborate entries in the four cardinal directions surrounds the complex.

 

Bagan Monument Number 748

 

Text by Robert D. Fiala, Concordia University, Nebraska

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Taken on September 22, 2010