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October 15, 2019

Boundless gratitude to UNESCO Heartiest congratulations to Lovers and stakeholders of “Bagan World Cultural Heritage Site”

A supurb panorama view of Bagan. Photo: Phoe Khwar
A supurb panorama view of Bagan. Photo: Phoe Khwar

News in all media, home and abroad on the evening of 6 July 2019 and headline news in all printed dailies and weeklies 7 July 2019 tempted the writer to send this article to the highly esteemed daily The Global New Light of Myanmar.
These are the reasons why the writer could not resist the temptation to write this article. He was the Director-General of Archaeology Department for four years before his the retirement. He was involved in the restoration and preservation of monuments heard hit by two earth quakes. He himself is academically interested in old city Bagan, through his PhD specialization is International Relations. He was assigned to the duty of State Tour Guide. He worked with many research students whom he gave all possible help. He co-operated with foreign researchers and UNESCO experts working in Bagan Area.
Bagan Historic Period covering nearly over three centuries had 55 kings all professed Theravada Buddhism, taking Emperor Asoka as their role model, Bagan Kings not only built religious monuments but also dug, constructed networks of wells, tanks. Water reservoirs and irrigations for water human consumption and for feeding dry cultivation. They put on the record of their religious and economic and socio-cultural merits in stone inscriptions which run into thousands.
Local and foreign researchers, academics, technicians or experts from almost every filed and every local or international organization are subject to the splendor and spell of Bagan. Mr Charles Forchmer a German medical doctor of Switzerland first became the super intendant of the Epigraphic office at Bagan, a branch of Indian Archaeological Survey of British Indian Empire. He was so fascinated by old Bagan that he overworked to the limit of his early pass-away leaving many valuable research works on Bagan. [ e.g. 6 Elephant size Vols. of Epigraphia Birmanica and several research papers.] His successor Mr Taw Sein Kho, Myanmar born Chinese scholar of high repute, Mr Dreresall, a French scholar of many research works, U Mya of Irrigation Department and J.S. Furnivall, an I.C.S of Economic department by Mr Charles Dourosellaes the glory and greatness of Bagan in their studies of Bagan stone inscriptions that they became Bagan experts in their own fields.
To crown it all the following are the foreigners and Myanmar natives of all generations who fell under the spell of Bagan. To begin with Mr. G.H. Luce and U Pe Maung Tin. Mr. G.H. Luce joined Yangon University as a Professor of the English Department. U Pe Maung Tin was scholar of the Department of Oriental Students [Pali, Burmese and Related Languages and Literature] Mr Luce got married to U Pe Maung Tin’s sister. Every holiday season U Pe Maung Tin visited old Bagan for his study of stone inscriptions, Mr Luce joined him. These two scholars agreed or agreed to disagreed to the point of occasional heated debate in interpreting the stone inscriptions and other visual arts of Bagan temples. The happy result of their Bagan visits was that Luce became a converted Bagan researcher-historian. U Pe Maung Tin became a de facto Bagan Archaeologist U Pe Maung Tin told us “we used to say that when we talked about Bangan History, we keep a stick on our shoulders because in the event of heated arguments we beat each other to assert out own views.” Please don’t do it now. Instead of keeping the stick on your shoulders, keep spades on your shoulders. To know the truth you did up the past-excavate. How wise is his advice we have not finished excavations.
On retirement, as he was about to return to his mother country England. Luce turned to his Burmese friends and students and weepingly says to them “ I have done all good deeds, therefore accordingly to Buddhism, I’ll be born human so that I’ll come back to continue my unfinished research on Bagan.”
Mr Luce had produced a magnum opus [ Great Booth] entitled “Old Burma; Early Bagan” 3 elephant size volumes. One illustrations –Pictures, Drawings and Photographs. Second Writings His Views, His appreciations. Third—Bibliographies and Indexes.
Good Lord! He had finished only Early Bagan. Middle Bagan and Late Bagan he still had to compile. Luce had passed away. By now he could have been reborn human. Whether reborn Luce was back in Bagan nobody knows.
As Director-General of Archaeology Department, the writer had a young German scholar named Tilman Frash from Berlin University. In his field trip to Bagan, he was attracted by an old stone inscriptions, on Ther Soe Taung hill in the remote area. He asked permission from me to camp on that hill for his research on stone inscriptions. In spite of the writer objections on ground of security, his daily meal and health, he insisted that he would be all his responsibility. His Embassy agreed. So young German spent nearly two years on that remote, desolate Thet Soe Taung without any danger from nature, weather, no food and toddy palm juice or local whiskey made by moonshiners. Could he be Mr Luce reborn back to Bagan. When the writer checked the birthdate of young scholar and death date of the Mr. Luce they do not tally to say that young German scholar was Luce-reborn.
The foreign expert who fell in love with the greatness and glory of Bagan was Mr Piere Pich and who was sent by UNESCO to make an Inventory of Bagan monuments. He finished 13 volumes of Inventory. He said he had not finished.
He would like to come back to compile another volume of Inventory. The more you clear bushes, the more you dig on the ground or in water more remains of monuments are being discovered. Two Myanmar whom Bagan had bewitched. Whom I know very well are U Aung Kyaing and family pen named Minbu Aung Kyaing as he was a native of Minbu Town. Now they live in Bagan. Next is Daw Tine Sein who toured on motorbike with her husband around the world cast to the west and back to Burma. Now she settled in Bagan.
The next was the late Mon. Bo key a native pathein, formely called Bassein town in Ayeyawady Region. He never returned to his native town. He died a bachelor and believed to have become nat spirit looking after the Bagan monuments.
Messages of Gratitude and congratulations appeared in media 7.7.2019 by Union Minister Thura U Aung Ko of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture and others. The writer would like to draw and alert the attention of all Myanmar that we are now obliged to preserve conserve and maintain Bagan according to their ruler, regulation procedure and standard of UNESCO because Bagan is now not only our heritage but also it belongs to the world. Therefore all Gout ministers, all departments are involved in these tasks especially Tourism, Infrastructure Ministries are primarily concerned with UNESCO standard.
Hailing Bagan in UNESCO List.

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