Bagan or Pagan pəgän´ [key], ruined city, Mandalay region, central Myanmar, on the Ayeyarwady River. Covering an area c.40 sq mi (100 sq km), it is one of the great archaeological treasures of SE Asia and a holy place of pilgrimage. Founded c.849, it became in the 11th cent. the seat of King Anawratha, who, under the influence of the Mon civilization in the south, introduced Theravada Buddhism into upper Myanmar, previously dominated by a Mahayana Buddhist sect. Under his rule and that of his descendants, Bagan was adorned with thousands of Buddhist shrines and temples, principally in stone and brick. Occupied by the Mongols in 1287, Bagan was sacked and burned by the Shans in 1299. The thousands of surviving temples, pagodas, and monasteries are massive and imposing structures, built with a knowledge of the true arch and showing strong Indian influence. In 1975 an earthquake damaged many monuments; a restoration project in the mid-1990s to reverse the subsequent neglect, however, suffered from flaws in its planning and execution. Damage to many monuments also resulted from a 2016 earthquake.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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