July 26, 2021

Bagan: Trip of A Lifetime

In 1996 Burma nominated eight properties for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. As of yet, none are accepted and remain on UNESCO’s tentative list. Burma is considering UNESCO’s suggested improvements, working towards building heritage sites founded upon stable conservation and preservation strategies. The controversial site Bagan Archaeological Area and Monuments has entered scholarly discourse, provoking strong reactions from archaeological experts.Burma’s tragic political history has seen years of repression, brutal military leadership and tortured civilians. Countries across the world vocalized their disdain for Burma’s appalling human rights and corrupt junta by disassociating themselves politically and economically. Anti-tourism campaigns and laws to discourage investment were firmly implemented until recently.

The past years have seen Burma making slow yet continuous political progress. Its first election was held in 2010 and, despite reports that the election was shrouded in criminality , it’s a positive signifier for future proceedings. The politician and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released in 2010, following a combined sentence of fifteen years under confinement . These progressions are noticed by countries on a world wide scale, especially since President Obama visited Burma in 2012, an equivalent year the EU lifted certain sanctions.Bagan is brimming with historic and cultural wealth. With over three thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas and monuments compacted into one area, it’s home to the very best density of Buddhist architecture anywhere within the world. The temples present a cross-section of Burma’s history, culture and politics as construction has spanned a millennium. especially , Ananda Temple and Sulamani Temple are significant, dating back to 1105 and 1183 AD respectively. They tell an architectural and historical story, presenting a glimpse into the religious and social context during which they were built. Temple arches signify the advanced intelligence of the traditional Burmese kingdom and therefore the unique murals adorning interior walls document their artistic skill. However, not all of those temples have such an upscale historical and visual impact.

thanks to the Buddhist belief that there exists great religious value in building temples, Bagan has been expanding until officials halted building add 2010 to specialise in preserving the prevailing temples. Burmese authorities have themselves constructed numerous temples and pagodas, one especially dedicated to General Than Shwe.
In addition to construction, the military have built on top of old structures, or reconstructed them completely. Scholars, especially Don Stadtner, have disputed the military’s interferences, deeming them to possess damaged Bagan’s archaeological integrity. Stadtner opposes Bagan’s classification for UNESCO World Heritage Site status saying: ‘It would be telling the planet that basic archaeological principles not only don’t mean anything but could also be rewarded by this type of baseless, conjectural restorations.’

Like Stadtner, many oppose the appliance believing Burma doesn’t need to be linked to UNESCO thanks to the detrimental impact it might wear the organization’s respectability. UNESCO wouldn’t simply be lowering its standards, but reinforcing that the irresponsible tampering of such sacred archaeological sites can have positive outcomes.Stadtner’s opinion is counterbalanced by Naing Win, Bagan’s head archeologist, who regards the reports as unfairly exaggerated and detached from the reality . Naing Win claims his team strictly followed the architectural forms and detailing recorded from original temples. Therefore, with the exception aged , there should be no architectural differences between the first and reconstructed Buddhist temples.Despite its abundance of jewel , gas , minerals and oil, Burma remains one among the poorest countries in Asia; a results of the years of military corruption. wanting to increase their tourism economy, Bagan’s classification will inevitably usher in foreign investments. This increased tourism could, however, see the country’s unnervingly tender economical framework vulnerable to commercialization, and lots of worry about the longer term of Burma during this economic context.

Furthermore, experts are concerned that increased tourism might be detrimental to the Buddhist structures themselves, especially if Bagan doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to support growing numbers of tourists . These positive and negative outcomes got to be taken into consideration before the archaeological site are often UNESCO-classified. The country’s plight for Bagan’s recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has continued since their initial application in 1996, being rejected thanks to poor management strategies and legal frameworks. In 2012 UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova paid Bagan a visit to debate how relations between the organization and Burma will progress. within the future, UNESCO experts are going to be working alongside Bagan’s archaeological team to reinforce their conservation and restoration skills, also as establishing a mural conservation training course. These tentative steps are a positive start line within the creation of a viable economic and managerial framework ready to support Bagan’s cultural history.

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