Aung Nan Bell Inscriptions: New Data on Konbaung Location

Kyawswar Oo. & Soe Win Naing

Myanmar Archaeology Association, Myanmar

Nine in-situ bell inscriptions at Aung Nan have identified a traditional grouping of five villages, known as Tapyae Nga Ywar. Hist orically it included the five villages (Tha Pyae Nga Ywa: Bountiful Lands of the Five Villages) given to the Royal Minister U Kaung (Kinwun Minkri U kaung) by King Mindon in 1218 ME (1856 CE). The five bells are at the Boe Htoe Gyi Phaya (AN-90). The decoding, transcription and translation of the bell inscriptions followed a 2021 survey and documentation of the beautifully preserved Nyaungyan to Konbaung and early Amarapura period mural paintings, stucco and glass mosaics in ninety-four stupas and brick and sandstone temples in the Aung Nan area. The architecture of the temples includes structures in brick and in local sandstone, with beautifully rendered floral designs in stucco and on mural hsin-swe (elephant tusk) style paintings, behind the main image of the Buddha, and on the interior with the 28 previous Buddhas. One stupa encases a well preserved earlier stupa with surviving stucco (AN-25). Artists included the sons of Saya Chone with some paintings inscribed by the artist with the value and a blessing. Some of the lion statues are auspiciously carved at the entrance of pagodas, and a female manussiha was also found. The material evidence of patronage by wealthy merchants and farmers is seen in the paintings and bells, some inscribed with astrological verses related to specific planetary constellations between 1861 to 1927 CE. These proclaim the location as being part of the Tha Pyae Nga Ywa north of Pakhangyi, a new location for the five-village group previously thought to have been to the north near Ahlone. The rich architecture of the almost one hundred temples at Aung Nan is thus for the first time given an historical context and rationale.