Conservation and Restoration of the Outer Walls of Brick Temples and Studies of Mural Paintings in Bagan, Myanmar
From January 23rd to February 13th, 2018, we carried out conservation and restoration work on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya Temple (No.1205), a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, aiming primarily at protecting mural paintings from rain leaks. Our work during this mission focused on restoring the pinnacle’s of the temple damaged by the earthquake on August 24th, 2016, as well as conserving and restoring the stucco decorations left on the dome of pagoda. While in Bagan, we also held a workshop for young conservators at the request of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar. In this workshop, we provided technical training on how to use restoration materials, with the aim of helping young conservators to better understand the characteristics and effects of each restoration material through actual restoration processes.
In addition, we conducted studies on art history, iconography and the evolution of mural painting techniques in Myanmar, Since we were finished, for the time being, with the studies on mural paintings from the 11th to 13th centuries, the prime of mural paintings, in our earlier missions, we left Bagan and headed to Phowintaung Cave and Kinmun Village near Monywa to study mural paintings from the 17th to 18th centuries, which can be described as the “revival period.” Through these field studies, we were able to gather a great deal of information.
On February 9th, we visited UNESCO Yangon Office, and explained what we, at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, have achieved so far through our conservation and restoration work as well as our studies of Me-taw-ya Temple. The officials at the Yangon Office highly commended us for our consistent project that focuses on the conservation of mural paintings and for our processes of promptly starting the restoration of earthquake-damaged areas. We and the UNESCO Yangon Office agreed to share information and develop a cooperative relationship from this point forward.
We have now completed the restoration work in the areas severely damaged by the earthquake. From fiscal 2018 onwards, we will gradually shift our focus from the restoration of the damaged areas to the project’s original purpose, which is the conservation and restoration of the outer walls to protect mural paintings from rain leaks. We will continue to work on developing effective policies for conserving and restoring the Bagan Archaeological Site through extensive discussion with local experts.