Minbu and Saku in the history
Minbu is located at the confluence of Mann Creek and Ayeyawady River. Writer Letwe Minnyo (U Chan Tha) depicted a love scene between King Mohnyin and Shin Boh Mei in Minbu, quoting the poems on the concluding of Temiya Jataka composed by venerable Sayadaw Minbu U Obhasa.
Minbu is 376 miles from Yangon along the waterway. As Ayeyawady River divides Magway and Minbu, Setkeinte Pagoda in Minbu faces with Myathalun Pagoda in Magway.
Myanmar Encyclopaedia mentions Saku was under the management of a governor in Myanmar monarchical era. The town governor and town head built wooden monasteries decorated with Myanmar arts and crafts. The agriculture was of agro-based business in the Saku region where locals cultivated crops in farmlands irrigated by water from Mann Creek. The paddy produced from the Saku region was called Sakubyat.
In 1886, the district level offices were set up in Saku after the British had occupied Myanmar. In 1962, the government allotted district level offices in Minbu but township level offices in Saku. On 7 August 1972 when the district administrative system was terminated, township offices were moved to Minbu from Saku. On 31 March 1973, Minbu (Saku) Township was constituted with Minbu and Saku towns, seven wards, and 150 villages from 87 village-tracts.
Minbu (Saku) Township on 642.71 square miles of land is 46 miles in length and 42 miles in width. The township shares its border with Ayeyawady River in the east, Ngaphe Township in the west, Minhla Township in the south, and Pwintbyu Township in the north. Ayeyawady River is crossing in the township from the north to the south while Hsapwet and Mann creeks flow from the west to the east.
Minbu (Saku) Township is 164 feet higher than the sea level. It had 48.54 inches of rainfall in 2017.
The total population in the township reached 192,295 in September 2018, 180,497 of whom were Bamar ethnic, accounting for 99 percent.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are 210 pagodas and stupas and 229 monasteries in Minbu (Saku) Township, 144 of those pagodas were located around Saku. Htegyi Pagoda in Saku is an eminent religious edifice in addition to Mann Shwesettaw, Shinpin Setkeinte, and Dattawkon pagodas.
The Pitakat chamber of U Obhasa takes a position in Ward 1 of Minbu and Hmankin Yokesone monastery and the Pitakat chamber in Ward 1 of Saku.
Works of some researchers showed some evidence of Pyu culture in the Saku region. So, some researchers assumed Saku had been in the Pyu era. At present, not only old stakes of buildings and ancient structures built of bricks with finger lines but also wooden monasteries decorated with Myanmar crafts can be seen in Saku.
Kings and royal families and wealthy persons built monasteries built of bricks and wood in various regions such as Mandalay, Inwa, Sagaing, Salay, Salin, and Myaing townships.
Konbaunghset Maha History mentioned King Alaungphaya, King Naungdawgyi, King Myedu, King Badon, King Sagaing, King Thayawady, King Bagan, King Mindon and King Thibaw funded the construction of monasteries, most of which were built with Myanmar architectural works. However, some monasteries such as Thakawun and Yaw Atwinwun were decorated with European and Myanmar styles.
Wooden monasteries in Saku
Pahtama Three-storey Monastery and Hmankin Yokesone Monastery are the most significant in Saku. Yokesone Monastery in Lekaing takes a position in Pwintbyu Township but travelers from Saku have easy access to such monastery.
Pahtama Three-storey Monastery in Saku was built by U Thaik and son in late-1920. The monastery was renovated in 1970. A record mentions that a stake driving ceremony took place for the monastery on the morning of 6th waning of Nayon, 1266 Myanmar era and the construction of the monastery started in the afternoon the same day.
The monastery with 111.5 feet in length and 52.49 feet in width was built of 115 teak posts for the tier-roofed building, Sanu building, and main building. Posts in the east, west, and southwards were curved with plots of sculptures from Vidhura Jataka. The rail of the northern corridor was created with the lifestyle of locals such as playing Ozi and sweeping works.
Hmankin Yokesone Monastery in Saku was built of 136 teak posts based on concrete boards. The monastery was 131 feet long and 65.5 feet wide formed with the tier-roofed building, Sanu building, and main building. Saku building was flanked by an annex hall each.
A brick ladder each was built on the northern and southern wings leading to the monastery. The main building was installed with doors decorated with sculptures of mythical birds. The rails of the monastery were curved as sculptural works depicting Buddhological works as well as the lifestyle of locals in the Konbaung era.
The northwest wing of the monastery was created with works of Cula Paduma Jataka, the southeast corner with that of Utena Jataka and the northern wing with that of Ma Mei U. Likewise, statues of the dragon, ogre, minister, general, and hermit were curved on the walls.
Lekaing Yokesone Monastery near Saku was built by U Anthony, son of the head of Kuni Village in 1891. U Anthony and his son built five monasteries around the area.
U Anthony spent 17.5 baskets of coins on the construction of Lekaing Yokesone Monastery. He took responsibility for the food and accommodation of workers for the construction. Head of Kani Village, a relative of donor, contributed labor of elephants to transport of teak lots to the construction site free of charge.
Lekaing monastery was built with 214 teak posts. The donor recruited 20 sculptors led by Saya Hman Gyi from Mandalay to curve sculptural works to be decorated at the monastery. The monastery installed with eight ladders was formed with the tier roofed building, Sanu building, the main building, and the Bawga building. Now, the main building and Bawga building can be seen in good conditions while the tier roofed building and Sanu building collapsed.
The walls of the monastery from the south to the north were decorated with sculptural works in plots of Buddhology. A lacquerware Buddha image is kept in the monastery till today. Tombs of donor U Anthony and relatives take positions in the west of the monastery.
Among Myanmar cultural heritages in townships of Magway Region, wooden monasteries decorated with Myanmar arts and crafts in Minbu (Saku) Township are damaged in weak maintenance. Only when these monasteries decorated with reliefs and sculptural works in Myanmar architectural style can be maintained for the long run, will these artworks be showed to travelers from home and abroad.
Walls of Saku
The walls of Saku built-in 661 Myanmar era was excavated on 4 September 2019. The 500 meters long eastern wall, the 290 meters long western wall, the 640 meters long southern wall, and the 240 meters long northern wall were excavated but the northwest corner of the wall was eroded by Mann Creek.
The Department of Archaeology and National Museum excavated the five meters wide and seven meters long eastern wall of Saku and found six feet wide 26 bricklayers. Four earthen urns were found near the bricklayers. Bricks of the wall were 13 inches to 15 inches in length, seven to nine inches in width, and two to three inches in thickness.