This article describes Buddhist murals illustrating some unusual features and surviving in the small brick temple number 36 at Sale, one of the major satellite towns during the Pagan period. The town is located on the east bank of the Irrawady River, 30 miles downstream from Old Pagan. The temple and its principal Buddha image can be stylistically dated to the 13th century. A dated inscription, a later intrusion on the murals, provides solid proof that the murals predate AD 1582. Likely postdating the temple, the murals show mixed features, some indigenous but others perhaps introduced from Sri Lank and north-central Thailand into the area during the mid-14th century, the proposed date of the murals. These features had never been combined in such a fashion before and the resulting combination perhaps lasted only shortly in the mural tradition of central Burma. This is evidenced when the content of Sale 36 is compared with Pagan-era murals and others surviving from the 15th century. The intrusive status, in the mural tradition of central Burma, of the Sale 36 materials is explained in a context of trans-regional movements of the Mahavihara monastic lineage, originated in Sri Lanka, widely active in lower Burma and parts of Thailand during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Sale 36 murals might reflect the presence of this Sinhalese order in central Burma as well during the mid-14th century. These rare murals, a later addition in an already existing small temple, might correlate with a temporary role played by the Sinhalese order in central Burma during a limited period. It probably ultimately yielded to a more popular and more powerful Aran sect of the area.


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pp. 145-197
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