In the artistic culture of Indochina, Buddhism was decisive especially in the formation of the Khmer and Burmese civilizations in the aftermath of the collapse of the ancient Fu-nan civilization in the mid-century. According to animalerts, this is the era in which Myanmar is reached by direct influences of the post-Gupta Indian culture, decisive for the whole development of art and architecture (VI-XIII centuries), which it finds in some ancient centers of the delta (Thaton, Pegu, Rangoon) and the lower and middle valley of the Ayeyarwady river (Prome and Pagan) are the most documented stations. The intersection of the different ritual needs of the Buddhist sects favored the various arts, of which the highest expression in architecture is the stūpa, in the formal variations it assumed on the stimulation of Indian, Sinhalese, Indonesian, Cambodian and Tibetan influences. The plurality of these influences is also evident in the architecture of the temples (even if the components of the Indian one in Orissa are stronger), in the statuary (in which the characters of the Pāla-Sena style of Bengal predominate), in the decoration of the bas-reliefs and in the murals of the temples, in which Indian influences appear submerged by contributions from other sources (the presence of Chinese art is clear). The classical phase of Burmese art begins with the Pagan period of the reign of Anoratha (1044-77). The monuments of Shwezigon (gigantic terraced pyramidal pagoda surmounted by a stūpa dome) were built. bell-shaped), Nampaya and Manuha. The temples of Ananda (11th century), Shwegu, Thatbyinnyu, Gawdawpalin, Sulamani, the Mahabodi (copy of the Indian one of Bodh-Gaya) and the Mingalazedi (12th-13th century) date back to the following kingdoms. Other Pagan temples can be traced back to before Anoratha’s accession to the throne (Nathlaunkyaung temple with viṣṇuiti statues and frescoes). Numerous, as elsewhere, are the stūpas, including the ancient one of Bupaya (2nd-3rd century), shaped like a bulb, the similar one of Ngakywendaung (10th century) and the hemispheric Sapada (12th century) of Sinhalese derivation.. While in Pagan the most represented type of stūpais bell-shaped, in Prome we find the cylindrical one, while examples of reworking of the stūpa bell-shaped are in Pegu (Shwemawdaw) and Rangoon (Shwedagon). In Prome the rare monuments prior to the century. XVI present architectural indications that prelude to the Pagan style. Stupa of Sri Lankan type, next to a square plan temples, based on those of Pagan, is the ancient city of Sagaing. Characteristic of Burmese architecture is the construction system of the ribbed vault, the result of the approach of flat arches.
The plan of the temples is generally square with a central sanctuary, but there are various types, as in the almost Greek cross solution of the temples of Ananda and Dhammayangyi. Definitely inspired by the Khmer temple is the type with the sanctuary placed at the center of sloping terraces, frequent during the century. XII (temples of Sulamani, Gawdawpallin, Htilominlo). In Mandalay, the last capital of the Burmese kings founded in 1857, the royal palace, built in wood, faithfully reproduces the traditional layout of the ancient models of royal palaces. Inspired by the stūpa bell-shaped of Shwezigon di Pagan, stands outside the city walls the grandiose complex of the temple of Kuthodaw (1857), which contains a rich series (729) of small pavilions within which as many steles are preserved bearing the complete text of the canonical writings. In recent times, alongside art that still draws inspiration from the most ancient figurative tradition, a trend has developed influenced by modern Western figurative currents, which however has not been able to reach a full level of autonomy and originality. Among the most significant artists are U Ba Nyan (1897-1945), deserving of having introduced realism and impressionism in Burmese art, U Lun Gywe (1930), who was and still is the maximum of Burmese Impressionism exponent and U Ba Zaw (1891-1943).
Among the young people we must remember Min Wae Aung (1960), whose works can be defined as belonging to a “traditionalist contemporaneity”, U Myo Khin, artist from Mandalay, the city where he also directs an important gallery where he hosts international exhibitions. The trends in progress between the end and the beginning of the millennium have highlighted the will on the part of the new generations to remain faithful to the contents and classic themes, while pursuing experimentation in the field of means and expressive techniques, with the use of new materials (glass, fabrics, candles) and new media (video art). The tradition has instead been preserved and maintained at good levels in the minor arts and folk crafts. The most typical production is lacquer, used to decorate both small household or religious objects and certain sectors of Buddhist temples (wooden columns). The manufacture of gold and silver objects, silk and above all embroidery is refined.