Bagan murals need restoring

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BAGAN, 2 March 2015: Myanmar’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library has called on the public to pitch in and help to preserve hand-painted murals in temples near  Bagan.

The department’s deputy general director, Thein Lwin, told Irrawaddy media that the department, works under the Ministry of Culture and has received support from several foreign organisations and the UN cultural body, UNESCO to start the restorations.

“However, as there are more than 400 pagodas [housing murals], it is not easy for us to take care of them within our annual budget. There has been international assistance, but it is still not enough,” he said adding people interested in restoration can make contributions.

Ananda Temple, one of Bagan’s most well-preserved and most frequently visited temples, is among the sites with intricate murals requiring regular maintenance.

inside no 4This and many other pagodas in the Bagan Archaeological Zone have fallen into disrepair over the centuries, and were damaged by whitewash treatments by the former military junta in the 1990s.

The restorations were criticised for obscuring original features of the artifacts. Ananda Temple has since undergone further restoration with technical assistance from the Archaeological Survey of India to correct the mistakes.

The deputy general director added the walls have undergone four rounds of whitewash removal and the paintings have been “restored to their original condition,” adding that with the help of UNESCO the department has already restored paintings in about 100 temples.

The government has taken steps to nominate Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and officials within the organisation have predicted that it will be added to the roster within the next few years.

The Bagan historical area spans about 42 sq km (16 miles) and is peppered with more than 3,000 temples, built between the 9th and 11th centuries, when some 55 Buddhist kings ruled the Bagan Dynasty.