Rakhine State Cultural Museum: collection of cultural heritages of four eras

By NyaungU Phee     

Photos: Oktha


The history of Rakhine emerged over five thousand years ago. There were over 200 Rakhine Kings. In Danyawady, Waithali, Lemro and MraukU eras, the second MraukU period has its glory of time. Some heritages of that period are still kept at Rakhine State Cultural Museum and Library at the corner of the main road in Mawleik ward and Yaydwin street. It was established for the new generations to get proper knowledge, conserve the cultural heritages and support the students.
The Rakhine State Cultural Museum and Library was closed temporarily on 13 May before the Cyclone Mocha that hit Rakhine State on 14 May 2023. It was slightly damaged and repaired. It is a treasure house of Rakhine State as it boasts cultural heritages and various books of four periods. The literature and culture reflect the greatness of a race and the previous cultural heritages of Rakhine State Cultural Museum and Library also reflect the valuable dignity and integrity of Rakhine people.
The Rakhine State Cultural Museum and Library was established in Kyaukpyu Township in 1955 aiming to provide literature for the students of Kyaukpyu College, to conduct thesis for degree and to be supportive one for history. In 1978, it was relocated in Sittway, capital of Rakhine State, with the agreement of executive committee of people’s council and Department of Cultural Institute. The groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on 1 December 1990 to conserve the ancient cultural heritage of Rakhine people, to explore the tradition and customs and to share cultural knowledge. The 116ft x 84ft four-storey building with 52ft in height was constructed with the use of K50.20 million by the government and opened on 19 February 1996.

The museum displays the cultural heritages, books and literature of Rakhine Kings in four periods and post these periods. At the living room of the museum, the picture of thousands of rice, flowers and oil lamps donation ceremony (Thinpok meals), culture of Rakhine people that was made on the full moon day of Thadingyut was displayed. At the first floor, there are booths featuring ancient cities, glaze wares and Rakhine literature. The scale models of ancient cities of Danyawady, Waithali, Lemro and MraukU periods are also displayed and the ancient coins of Waithali and MraukU periods and cannons of MraukU are also there. At the booth of glaze wares, it displays glaze earthen jar, glaze earthen tray, pieces of glaze and stone tray and sculptures.
At the library of museum, it displays photos and history of Rakhine intellectuals, Anandacandra Stone Inscription, transformation of Rakhine alphabets, Rakhine stone inscriptions, Stupa (small stone pagoda) and enshrined bronze pagoda and literature. On the second floor of museum, there are displays of Rakhine ethnic groups such as Rakhine, Mro, Khami, Thet and Daingnet, musical instruments, tradition and culture and general booths. There are statues of ethnic people, jewellery, clothes and commodities are also displayed at the booths of Rakhine ethnic people.
At the musical instrument booth, it displays Rakhine Mingala Drum, cymbal, fiddle with a coconut shell sound box (Marlakhun fiddle), Dulaung harp, Ozi, crocodile harp, bamboo harp, crocodile xylophone, various flutes, double trumpets, carved trumpet, and gourd flute​​ of Mro people. Moreover, the scale models of Rakhine traditional house, tradition wedding event, traditional carriage pulling festival, Thanakha grinding festival, boat racing festival, processes of bronze casting, sculptures, traditional sport festival-Kyin (wrestling) and looms are displayed at the booth of tradition. At the general display, it shows off hair-styles of MraukU, distinctive fillets worn by servants of Rakhine Kings, statue of Princess Poe Wah of MraukU period, statues of girl and old lady of Rakhine, Byal statue, mythological chimeric creature made of nine animals.
The culture museum in Sittway of Rakhine State conserves 3,447 items including 355 displayed items and 3,092 preserved items. If the repairs of museum are completed, it will be open to public from Tuesday to Sunday except Monday and public holidays as usual. The entrance fee is K200 per adult and K500 per tourist and it is free for monk, nun, children and students. The repair works are being conducted as it was hit by Mocha. The roots, ceiling, windows, drain pipes, staff housings and booths were destroyed in the storm and some maintenance works are completed while some are in progress. Despite the slight damages, the goodwill of officials to make efforts in repairing processes to complete in time shows their appreciation of cultural heritages of ethnic people.
As soon as the visitors arrive at the museum, they can feel the past of the ancient culture of Rakhine people and images of Kings. The ancient heritages displayed at the museum and library highlight the four eras of Rakhine Kings. It is a site with the collection of valuable heritages of Rakhine people and the tradition and culture of ancient kings and people will still remain by conserving it as a heritage.

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