Thursday, May 25, 2017
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

New teak logs headed for heritage restoration project

The painstaking work of restoring one of the country’s most elaborate heritage buildings will take another step forward this month with the purchase of at least 20 high-quality teak logs to replace corroded pillars.

US ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell (left) visits Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay in 2013. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar TimesUS ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell (left) visits Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay in 2013. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar Times

The project to restore Mandalay’s Shwenandaw Monastery, also known as Shwenandaw Kyaung, dates back to an agreement between the United States ambassador Derek Mitchell and the Myanmar Ministry of Culture in July 2013.

Work began the following year, with an initial US$500,000 from the United States Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The monastery is the sole surviving structure from the compound of the royal palace in Mandalay. Its relocation to its present site by King Thibaw meant that the building survived the destruction of the palace during World War II. The structure incorporates 150 major wooden pillars, 54 carved pillars and five brick staircases.

Jeffrey Allen of the US State Department said teak would be brought from Loikaw, Kayah State, to replace the pillars. The Ministry of Forestry will provide the teak at K300,000 per tonne, he told The Myanmar Times on January 13.

“Shwenandaw Kyaung is a most important building, and the Ministry of Forestry will sell us the teak for a really low price. We will buy it in Loikaw in the last week of this month. The teak will be selected by workers who will carry out the repairs and staff from the ministry of culture,” he said.

Mr Allen said 40 percent of the necessary observations had been made preparatory to repairs. “Preparations will start when the teak is in place.”

Little if any repair work has been done on the building since 1980, and the final cost of restoration could reach $1 million.

Over the years, torrential rain, summer heat, white ants and careless tourists have combined to dim the lustre of Shwenandaw Kyaung’s gilded pillars. The floors and other parts of the structure have also suffered damage from time and climate.


Translated by Khant Lin Oo