Understanding the Progress in the Technical Support Provided to the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar

Conserved and restored parts are maintained in good condition (middle and upper parts), and plants have grown in the parts that remain unrestored.

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working on a technical support and skill development project for the conservation and restoration of wall paintings and exterior walls of the temples composed of bricks, targeting the staff in the Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology and National Museums of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and deterioration of Myanmar’s general situation have hindered our onsite work for some time. In such circumstances, we are conducting online meetings every two months to understand the status of the Me-taw-ya and Lokahteikpan temples, which are the target sites for the conservation and restoration project. We continue to provide advice for their maintenance and management by referring to the site photographs sent to us by the local staff.

 The current status of the Me-taw-ya temple was reported at the meeting held on December 19th, 2021, informing that its restored parts have remained in good condition since our onsite activities were halted, which was two years ago. In the Bagan Archaeological Site, other organizations (prior to the involvement of TOBUNKEN) had repeatedly restored the joint plaster and adopted countermeasures against rain leakage. However, in most of the cases, the restoration materials were damaged within a year. Additionally, in 2021, the heavy rainfall caused disastrous damages to the structure.

 For this project, we have been closely working with the local experts by listening carefully to their concerns and conducting relevant research to address them. The restoration materials introduced by TOBUNKEN have remained in good condition for 5 years, showing no damage even at the oldest parts. Thus, it is important to carefully monitor the progress after the restoration and to work on the restoration. Despite the frustration at being unable to work onsite because of the current situation, the proven effectiveness of the conservation and restoration to sustain over multiple years is a source of constant motivation for us.

 Thus, while we continue to extend our full cooperation to the local staff, we remain hopeful about resuming our onsite work shortly.

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