SOAS University of London

Bagan Metropolis Conference held in Myanmar

7 July 2017

SAAAP is proud to support the Bagan Metropolis Conference and Fieldtrip 2017, taking place in Yangon and the Bagan Temple complex from 9 - 12 July.

Bagan Conference
(Photo by Nicholas Kenrick - originally posted to Flickr as Bagan. Burma, CC BY 2.0)

The Conference, focusing on discourses and interpretations around the question Was Bagan the Metropolis of Buddhism in Indo-China? is hosted by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Centre for History and Tradition, with sponsorship from SAAAP.

Bagan was a cosmopolitan crossroads and a site of extraordinary patronage with the remains of more than 2,000 brick temples remaining today from the estimated original 5,000 structures (11C to 13C). Due to the arid climate, the soaring brick arches of hundreds of temple interiors have retained their original mural paintings, with fine bronze and stone images of the Buddha reflecting extensive cultural interchange with other areas in the South and Southeast Asian region.

This Conference explores various aspects of the development of the Bagan temple complex and its unique role at the crossroads of Buddhist cultures in the region between the 11th and 13 Centuries. Following on from Welcome Addresses from the Myanmar Ministry of Education, the Director of SEAMEO CHAT and SOAS Professor Emeritus Elizabeth Moore on behalf of SAAAP, the Conference will address critical themes including: historical development and interchange at the Bagan site; art and archaeology in the area; and current questions around conservation, preservation and development at the complex. The Conference will also feature papers delivered by SAAAP Alphawood Scholarship alumni, including:

  • Multiculturalism at Bagan (Thu Ya Aung)
  • The Significance of the Buddha Footprint in the Bagan Metropolis (Su Latt Win)
  • Early Images of the Buddha in Bagan (Swe Zin Myint)
  • Depiction of Prinivana: Comparisons between Tang Dynasty China and Bagan (Win Myat Aung)
  • The Tradition of Drinking Saiy (Se) and the Buddhist perception of Surameraya restriction in the Bagan period (Saw Tun Lin)

With plans afoot to seek designation of the Bagan complex as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this timely conference will explore some of the key issues surrounding Bagan's role at the crossroads of cultures in the earliest days of its development, and which can help to inform its preservation and conservation in future.

Please view the Bagan Metropolis Conference Programme (pdf; 170kb) and visit this page for further updates on published papers and presentations.

For further information, contact:

Prof Elizabeth Moore

Professor Emeritus, Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

SAAAP In-region Liaison

em4@soas.ac.uk