Estimated mid to late 13″’ century
Packed into thousands of ancient temples in Bagan, Pay a Thonze Temple is one of the great attraction to visit in Bagan day trips. Thon meaning three, the temple is a single-storey complex of three shrines connected with short corridors. The three-shrine complex is as unique in design as are the beautiful wall paintings within including Bodhisattva figures, which are not normally present in pure Theravada Buddhist art.

Pay a Thonzu Temple, Bagan

Pay a Thonzu Temple, Bagan

The controversial Arannavasi sect of the Aree priests was supposed to have their center near Min Nanthu Village, and the paintings are thought to portray aspects of their faith. The existence of Bodhisattvas, plus the locality of the temple seem to give credence to the idea that it was an Arannavasi shrine.

Some panels remain as sketches done in black ink, quick strokes, still waiting for the artist to fill in the colors. It is not known if the paintings were left unfinished in a hurry, because of the Mongol invasion of 1287, or was it perhaps a sudden crack-down on the sect?