Myazedi Stupa, which translates as "emerald stupa," has an ancient stone tablet that includes the earliest known example of written Burmese language.
Myazedi, which translates as “emerald stupa,” is located just north of Myinkaba Village and just south of Old Bagan.
A notable item at the Myazedi stupa is a stone slab with the text in four languages: Pyu, Mon, Pali, and Burmese. It’s the earliest dated example of written Burmese language, dated to 1112 or 1113. Prior to that, the Mon language was used most often for written documents.1 It’s one of a pair, and this one was reconstructed from several large fragments. Its partner slab was better preserved and is now in the museum up the road.
It’s sometimes referred to as Myazedi Stupa and sometimes as Myazedi Pagoda. You might also see reference to the Mya Zedi Quadrilingual Stone Inscription. That’s the stone tablet in the courtyard.
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Very few of the temples, pagodas, or stupas in the Bagan Archeological Zone have any information about them on site. And with literally thousands of sites to choose from, it's handy to go armed with information on what to see and where to start--especially for independent travelers without a guide.
If you're looking for something that goes beyond the patchy information in the standard guide books, I've found these to be good:
Approach Guides, 2017
With maps, diagrams, and pictures, it's pitched as a "travel guidebook for the ultra curious." It offers detailed profiles of 21 of the major sites. It's an especially good option if you traveling with a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone and don't want to take up any space in your luggage or deal with the extra weight of a hard copy.
Bangkok: River Books, 2013
Written by a former professor of Art History who has authored many books on Indian and Burmese art, this book offers authoritative and detailed information on not just the architecture and art of the temples of Bagan but also the history of the region. It focuses on 33 of the major sites. Its photos by Michael Freeman are a standout feature. It's only available in paperback.
Yangon: Tanintaye Sarpay, 2011
Ma Thanegi is a Burmese writer and journalist. The book doesn't offer the level of detail of the other two and is harder to find in the West, but it still offers useful summaries of a number of the major sites. It's available in paperback only (when you can find it).
Rangoon: Ministry of Union Culture, 2nd rev. ed. 1963
This is a guide compiled under the auspices of the Burmese government in the mid-1950s and early-1960s. Despite being quite outdated, it has its own value with background on a number of pagodas and temples as well as fascinating historical photos of how the monuments looked in the middle of 20th century--sometimes quite different to how they appear today after being renovated. It's long out of print and hard to find, but I've scanned it and posted it here.
Maps: When you get to Bagan, there are good local maps available for free at the hotels that show many of the major sites.