Safeguarding of both Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritages in Myanmar

  • By Zaw Anaw Yahtar (Culture)

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Culture is the social behaviour and the set of custom, traditions and values of a society or our community. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) has defined the term ‘culture’ as tangible culture and intangible culture.’
Tangible heritage includes historical buildings, buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts, etc., which are considered worthy of preservation for the future. These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.
Intangible heritage comprises cultural practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
Myanmar has thrived in cultural heritages and possessed its own architectural designs, historical buildings and heritages through the successive kings and ages. With the aim of protection and preservation of ancient cultural monuments, a total of 47 Ancient Monumental Zones, Ancient Sites Zones and Protected and Preserved Zones have been designated across the country.

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The Myazedi Stone Inscription.  Photo: Supplied

Safeguarding Cultural Heritages
The Department of Archaeology and National Museum takes charge of Myanmar Culture heritages including tangible and intangible culture, and efforts have been made to make research and underground excavation, make field research to find out historic ancient sites, record list of the cultural heritage monument and sites, and preserve the Myanmar cultural heritage monuments, the mural painting, stucco carving by means of scientific methods. In order to implement the plans and projects of the reservation of the cultural heritage, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has classified the projects many stages such as World Level, National Level, State and Regional Level respectively.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has promulgated many relevant bylaws, rules and regulations with the aim of raising national prestige and integrity through the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritages which include the criteria for the designation of location as national and world heritage sites. As a result, the Ministry has prescribed 1998 Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regional Law, 2009 Amendment Law of Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regional Law, 2011 Cultural Heritage Conservation Law, 2015 the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regions Law, and 2016 Preserving Cultural Heritage Law respectively.
According to the 1998 Cultural Heritage Law, ploughing and cultivation within the boundary of the ancient monument are prohibited in the cultural heritage region; constructing, extending a building, renovation the ancient monument and extending the boundary of its enclosure are not allowed within the ancient monumental zones; within the protected and preserved zone, constructing, extending, renovating a hotel, motel, guest house, lodging house or industrial building or extending the boundary of its enclosure; within the cultural heritage region carrying out the renovation and maintenance work of the ancient monument without altering the original ancient form and structure or original ancient workmanship; carrying out archaeological excavations; building road, constructing bridge, irrigation canal and embankment or extending the same.
In order to safeguard the cultural heritages, the authority concerned has worked in cooperation with related ministries, region or state governments for the protection and preservation of land or the part of the land where Ancient Monumental Zone, Ancient Site Zone, and Protected and Preserved Zone are located.
As for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, concerted efforts have been made to conserve the cultural heritage of the count; Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay in 2013, the three Pyu ancient cities, including Hanlin, Beikthano and Sri Kestra were inscribed by the UNESCO List in 2014, Myazedi Inscription in 2015, and inscription of the bell donated by King Bayintnaung in 2017 respectively.
As part of efforts for conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, cooperation is of vital importance to strengthen the management capacity for cultural heritage sites across the country.
Moreover plans are under way to submit the Rakhine State’s Arnanda Sandrasara inscription, which have been listed as a world heritage in Pacific region, to UNESCO soon to be included in the world’s heritage list.

Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung

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