The most refined of the temples of Bagan’s late period, Sulamani forms a striking silhouette in the center of the archeol ogical zone. Fusing the monu mental verticality of structures such as Thatbyinnyu with the horizontal planes of Dhammayangyi, it fully deserves its name, which translates as “Crowning Jewel.” The temple was built on two major levels, with porches at the cardinal points, and seven tiers of ascending terraces whose corners are crowned by delicate tapering stupas. Surmounting the whole is a beautifully designed sikhara tower, com- prising a pagoda placed on top of a curvilinear corncob base.
Only the first floor is open to the public. Encircling the inner shrine, where four Buddhas face the four direc tions, is an inner ambulatory with niches for Buddha statues on pedestals and murals depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha and a menagerie of mytholo- gical beasts, snakes, and sea creatures. Some of these are original, but most date from the Konbaung era of the 18th–19th centuries. Also of note are the exceptionally fine carved stucco moldings adorning the pedi- ments over the exterior door- ways and win dows, and the glazed ceramic plaques lining the temple’s base and terraces.