Taking measurements at a wooden temple
An example of a highly damaged temple building
Visiting a metal casting workshop
Survey at the National Museum in Yangon
As part of the Project for International Contribution to Protection of Cultural Heritage (Experts’ Exchange) conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo under commission by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, a mission of experts was dispatched to Myanmar from January 26 through February 3. This mission, made up of 17 members in total, comprised three teams to study the fields of architecture, arts and crafts, and archaeology, respectively. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo was responsible for the fields of architecture and arts and crafts, while the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties was responsible for archaeology. Intended to make clear future directions of action for cooperation provided by Japan to Myanmar in regard to safeguarding of cultural heritage, the survey was able to advance smoothly with the accompaniment and assistance of the responsible staff members from the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library of the Myanmar Ministry of Culture.
Together with checking the state of damage and key factors affecting conservation of brick monuments in Bagan as well as wooden monasteric buildings in Mandalay and other areas, the architecture team’s activities also included interviews with concerned staff of local agencies and craftsmen, to identify issues related to future conservation and restoration. These activities revealed such as the fact that full-fledged structural repairs had not been conducted in a long time and activities such as keeping basic records concerning the state of conservation were not being conducted to a sufficient extent.
The arts and crafts team conducted surveys and interviews on the state of conservation, storage and exhibition, as well as training of human resources involved in conservation and restoration, for mural paintings , metal objects, lacquerwares, and books and sacred documents. It did so by visiting national museums and libraries, temples, schools, and workshops in Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay. While they observed signs of the knowledge obtained through overseas training and other efforts being put to use in Myanmar, it also was clear that sufficient conservation and restoration measures were not being taken, due to shortages of materials and equipment and to underdevelopment of related systems.
The mission also gathered basic information on Myanmar’s system for protection of cultural heritage through activities including meeting with the Ministry of Culture in the capital city of Naypyitaw. While it was clear that there were shortages in areas such as the technologies and human resources needed to conserve and restore cultural heritage in each field, the motivation of those in Myanmar to improve the situation was high, so that it is expected that technology transfer and human-resources development through projects such as joint research and training would be highly effective as assistance.