|Koe Thaung Temple, one of ancient pagodas in Mrauk-U.|
Yangon February 19
Ancient artefacts have been smuggled out of Rakhine State as a result of weak conservation of cultural heritage in the state, claimed archaeologists.
“Ancient Buddha images in Mrauk-U have been subject to smuggling and there have been burglaries of shrines at pagodas. Recently, police in Yangon have arrested a smuggler along with ancient Buddha images and the culprit said that he has smuggled Buddha images two or three times before into Thailand. We recovered Buddha images of Waithali and Mrauk-U periods,” said archaeologist Daw Nu Mya San, the retired deputy director-general of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library. Archaeologists have pointed the finger at successive governments for failure to conserve properly the ancient cultural heritage.
“There are many challenges in conserving ancient buildings. In the past, Mrauk-U was the best fortress town in Southeast Asia because of its strategic architecture. But, (successive governments) have put renovation of those places out to tender. The tender winners are not archaeologists and lots of ancient Rakhine cultural works which have high historical values have been lost in renovating the pagodas and walls,” said Daw Khin Than, chairwoman of Mrauk-U Ancient Cultural Heritage Conservation Group. The Rakhine State government has allotted 60 million budget for conservation of ancient sites in the state for 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The Myawady Daily