In 1767 the Burmese army sacked the Thai city of Ayutthaya, and multitudes of people were captured and relocated to the Burmese central zone, including artists and theatrical performers. This event has been considered seminal in the emergence of Thai influences on Burmese art, including mural painting. Yet, Burmese deportations of people from the Thai, Lan Na, Sipsong Panna, and Shan States regions occurred on a number of occasions prior to the late eighteenth century attack. And, trade networks and religious exchanges between monasteries formed alternative routes of communication between Burma, Ayutthaya, Lan Na, Sipsong Panna, and the Shan States. Unsurprisingly, such variant interactions had an impact on artistic production in Burma prior to the destruction of Ayutthaya and the relocation of artists to the Ava region. The information utilized in Burmese murals ranges from central Thai elements of style and dress to the narratives and methods of religious practice found particularly in Tai regions. This paper explores these aspects in Burmese mural paintings from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries in order to suggest the extent and nature of this impact, as well as the various means – social, religious, political – by which it came about. The murals ultimately present a view of Burma readily absorbing external material due in part to shared religious beliefs and fluid political relationships in the region.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 305-358
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.