During my visit to Salay in Chauk Township of Magway Region, I aimed to observe Salay sculptural Yokesone monastery and facts about great poet Salay U Ponnya. Hence, I did not have adequate time to observe the remaining subjects in Salay. Even though I spent all the time observing the Yokesone monastery, I was not satisfied with missing chances to visit monuments of U Ponnya.
Locations of cultural properties in the Bagan era
Salay is an ancient town filled with cultural properties. Some archaeologists assumed Salay was a place of flourishing Pyu culture. My presentation was not on a point of archaeologist view but of an ordinary traveler.
An ancient building called Salay House in the ward of old Salay is used in the tourism industry. A local youth medical doctor bought the house built in 1906 from original owners and created it as a place of services for accommodation and food for local and foreign travelers and as a souvenir shop.
A couple of medical doctors explained to me how to build the house for the resilience of climatic impacts and security measures. At a time when the administrative machinery deteriorated, wealthy persons in Salay were often robbed. Moreover, the couple explained the locations of the sites where travelers should make observations.
Shinpin Sarkyohla Pagoda
The pagoda is located four miles south of Salay. It was built by King of Bagan Narapatisithu in 1191 AD. It is a medium-scale pagoda called “Sakyohla Pagoda”. It’s a ceiling of the eastern stairway was decorated with mural paintings and masonry works. The medium-scale temples were called “Phayahla” in the Bagan era and named with “Hla” based on the decoration of masonry works.
Sarkyohla Buddha image was magnificently seen as a sitting structure in Gandakuti Chamber. A stone plaque with inscriptions on dorsiventral sides and another one with one side alone were posted near the window in the north of the chamber. Teak posts from the prayer halls on the platform of the pagoda were gilt. There are about 60 public rest houses made of wood outside the walls of the pagoda. A local said that being a famous pagoda, Buddha Pujaniya festivals are held before and after the Buddhist lent period annually when the public rest houses could not give adequate accommodation to the visitors.
In history, King Alaungsithu built five Phayahla pagodas under the guidance of Pantthaku Mahathera. Such a story was mentioned in the royal glass Maha Yazawindawgyi. These pagodas can be seen as Chauk Phayahla in NyaungU, Myepontha Phayahla near Bagan-Shwehsandaw, Kazunboe Phayahla near Minnanthu-East Phwasaw Village, Thagyartaung Phayahla in Tuyin Hill-Taungsun, and Sarkyo Phayahla, four miles south of Salay. I deeply mean the land of Salay is not free from the relationships of Bagan.
Shinpin Labha lacquered image
Shinpin Labha Buddha image in Salay is the largest work of lacquered images in the entire Myanmar. Its structure was the work of the Bagan era in the 13th Century.
The image is 18 feet high, 14.5 feet in width between the two knees and 11 feet thick at the structure of knee structure. In about 1250 Myanmar era when Ayeyawaday River raised the water level, abbot U Budd led local people and members of the Sangha to salvage such an image. I saw a door installed behind the throne to enter the interior of the image. Visitors should pay homage to the image whenever they arrive in Salay.
U Ponnya Pitakat Chamber
Everybody knows that great poet Salay U Ponnya created topics related to Pitakat treatises, astrology, history, medicines and poems in various compositions to improve the Myanmar classic literature. U Ponnya was one of the persons bringing honor to Salay as well as shaking Salay with his astrological forecasts.
I was eager to search a place concerning U Ponnya to be able to see the place where he compiled the classic literature and where he kept his literary works and how it happens now. I saw such a place. I was delighted at the systematic maintenance of the place.
Myanmar figure 26 is labeled on the exterior of the building. The temple designed building was fenced with a concrete wall. Its entrance was installed a double iron door. The left wall of the door was labeled “U Ponnya Pitakat Chamber, repaired on 12-9-61, No 26”.
The inner section was about 15 feet by 15 feet area with 20 feet high roof. While visiting, I was satisfied that the size and design of the Pitakat Chamber do not tarnish the prestige of poet U Ponnya.
100-post Sasana Yaungchi Monastery
Thanks to Salay sculptural Yokesone monastery opened as an archaeological museum, Salay is famous throughout the world. The monastery built in the reign of King Thibaw in 1224 ME is a suitable site for travelers on visits.
Likewise, the 100-post Sasana Yaungchi Monastery is suitable for the visit. Travelers can observe Myanmar arts and crafts there because it is older than the Yokesone monastery. The about 150 years old Sasana Yaungchi Monastery was built in the reign of King Mindon in 1228 ME.
The monastery was built with the use of over 100 teak posts. The monastery was installed with works of large lotus flowers at the tier-roofed structures and decoration of floral crafts around the buildings.
Visitors can observe ancient teak cupboards, paintings and post-box depicting works of Buddhological stories. Abbot of the monastery U Pandita patiently showed me ancient palm-leaf inscriptions, folded papers and bamboo ribbed roll of cloth for palm-leaf manuscripts from the teak post-box.
Shinpin Tapetoe Buddha Image
Abbot U Pandita urged me to pay homage to the Shinpin Tapetoe Buddha Image on the opposite side of the monastery. Local people said it was the place where the bodyweight of Princess Manisanda in the history of the Bagan era increased to one penny.
In retrospect, four hero warriors of King Anawrahta achieved victory over Yun troops on the land of Oktha-Bago. The King of Oktha offered up the sacred relic of the royal relatives and princess Manisanda in the same weight of a lion statue.
The princess was under escort of four heroes in rotation from Oktha to Bagan. On arrival at a place, the bodyweight of the princess was heavier than that of the lion statue. The Buddha image was built at such a place. Before paying homage to the Buddha image, I saw a signboard bearing 13th Century AD. The structure of the pagoda is a small replica of Ananda Temple in Bagan.
Pagoda No. 36
Before departure from Salay, I took photos on Yokesone Monastery. During the previous visit, I could not catch smart photos of the monastery due to the sunray.
Moreover, I had one more wish to meet with writer Maung Maung Latt (Archaeology) who is selling souvenirs in the precinct of the monastery. Since my first trip, he had urged me to visit Pagoda No. 36. He pledged to take me to the pagoda if I had to visit there. But I missed the chance of visiting there due to a shortage of time.
This time, I asked him for ways to the pagoda and went there. The pagoda is located in the north of the Yokesone Monastery and southeast of Salay Fertilizer Plant. It needs to walk some 100 yards to the east of Chauk-Salay road. It is a small temple facing the west. A sitting Buddha image damaged with detached pieces of concrete is in the temple.
I saw good conditions of a mural painting on the wall above the Buddha image. Some experts assumed that the picture in the painting did not depict the Buddhology. In assessing the painting, they assumed that it was a culture earlier than the Bagan era.
I think that those adoring the ancient culture wish to systematically preserve such places for works of ancient fine arts.
The aforesaid topics mean the suitable sites for observation of travelers on my trip to Salay. I admitted these topics could not comprehensively depict the image of Salay but I firmly believe they would be bits of help for visitors.