This plaque is probably one of 200–300 tiles that adorned the Shwegugyi temple complex at Bago (Pegu). Built under the patronage of King Dhammaceti (reigned 1462–92) who embarked on an extensive religious building program to revive Buddhism’s popularity, the tiles on the temple depict scenes and characters from the narrative of the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment.
Many of the tiles, all approximately the same size, show pairs of animal-headed demons armed with various weapons such as daggers, spears, clubs, axes and shields. They were part of the god Mara’s armies, sent to frighten the Buddha and deter him from reaching enlightenment. The demons failed and later scenes show the disarmed demons, contorted and in disarray. This tile depicts a pair of demons prior to their defeat.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label