Early 12th century
Merit attributed to King Kyansittha (r. 1084-1112)
Stay close to the Shwezigon Pagoda, Kyansittha Umin Cave is an interesting relic to visit in a Bagan tour. The narrow, dark corridors of this meditation monastery are painted with murals. The paintings are somewhat random and some scholars believe them to have been painted in the late 13th century after the fall of Bagan, as one looks like a soldier of Kublai Khan in fur boots and cap, holding a bow.

Kyansittha Umin Cave

Kyansittha Umin Cave

However, a line of musicians and nobility carrying flowers or lamps and led by a dancer was painted in a style seen nowhere else in the country of any period. The faces looked as if they were masked but they could well be the artist’s attempt at a different presentation. The hats of the officials were like the horns of rhinoceros, as recorded in the 1178 Chinese chronicle, the Lingwai-tai ta.