Dealers happy to see liberalizing control over exporting sculptures

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Sculptor hands working on his wood sculpture in his work place with hammer. Photo: Myanmar Digital News

Dealers of artistic sculptures have planned to demand the government relax its restrictions on exporting sculptures.
If the government loosens its restrictions on exporting sculptures, the livelihood of dealers and sculptors will be better and the country can generate foreign revenue, said U Ye Min Thu, chairman of the Forest Product Merchants Association in Mandalay Region.
Currently, sculptures that are worth up to US$ 500 can be purchased as gifts from Myanmar. So, the association has planned to put forward an idea to liberalize the government’s restriction on exporting sculptures to the proper departments.
The association wants the government to allow exporting sculptures that are worth more than $500. “Exporting sculptures can generate more foreign income than exporting logs,” U Ye Min Thu said. He explained why the association wants to demand the government to ease up the regulation on exporting sculptures by sharing his experience.
He said that a foreigner visited Bagan last month and wanted to buy a large number of elephant sculptures, but he was not allowed to buy the desired number of sculptures due to the regulations in Myanmar. So the art dealer couldn’t sell sculptures to the foreigner.
Because of the regulations, vendors and sculptors lost a chance to sell out their products. In addition, the country lost a chance to get revenues, he added. “Most of the wood to create a sculpture is cheap timber that is discarded; most people feel it has no value. However artists see it differently, they view this “useless” wood as something that can be transformed into a thing of artistic beauty. That’ why we will submit a proposal to the government to relax its regulations on exporting sculptures more than the current limit,” he said. If Myanmar exports more sculptures, Myanmar’s art can have a greater presence across the globe and the local’s sculpture market will improve.
However the practice of traditional Myanmar sculpturing seems to be in jeopardy and could possibly disappear: one reason is that the younger generation has no interest in it.
“In the past, sculptors from Tampawady ward in Mandalay were busy and the wood sculpting market was booming. Now most sculptors have changed jobs and work as a motor cycle taxi driver or horse cart driver. Their children are not interested in making sculptures because they couldn’t earn respectable amount money as sculptors. So, traditional sculpture may disappear one day,” he added.
As a liberalization policy of the government, it has currently extended license terms for timber merchants from one year to five years. It allows foreigners to buy sculptures that are worth up to $1000 at the shops under the Department of Co-operatives and up to $500 at other shops.

Myanmar Digital News

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