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July 05, 2020

The time to conserve our diverse cultural heritage is now

Myanmar is endowed with a wealth of tangible iconic monuments and intangible cultural heritages among every ethnic group in the country.
Being rich in tangible and intangible heritage is the pride of the Union.
But, we should be aware that some of our intangible legacies have disappeared with the passage of time, and the remaining will also disappear if we do not conserve them.
It is worth noting that Myanmar’s traditional Thanakha or sandalwood paste wearing on peoples’ faces is to be submitted to UNESCO for listing in the world’s intangible heritage list.
Meanwhile, measures are being taken to settle illegal dwellings by squatters and to enforce rules for the conservation of tangible cultural heritages and enact laws for the preservation of intangible cultural heritages.
In this regard, people should be effectively prohibited from climbing cultural buildings, and rules must be enforced to provide protection to vulnerable heritages, such as wall paintings and statues in pagodas, often found on the outskirts of cultural zones.
Three Pyu cities, Bagan, stone inscriptions in Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, the bell with scripts donated by King Bayinnaung at the Shwezigon Pagoda and Ananda Sandra Stone Inscription in MyaukU, have been listed on the world heritage list.
So far, some 2,217 intangible heritages have been recorded for the national intangible heritage list. The remaining would be researched and placed in the list.
While 549 intangible cultural heritages representing 127 countries have been listed by UNESCO, regrettably, there is nothing yet from Myanmar on the list.
However, the silver lining in the cloud is that our people in urban and rural areas are still very fond of their centuries old intangible heritages, such as festivals, though they don’t understand the value of heritage and how intangible heritage contributes to their social cohesion and benefit local communities.
Local governments are obliged to make commitments to protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage through implementing strategic guidance funded by the Union Government.
Also, local governments should create jobs and raise the level of the socio economic life of local people, in accordance with the existing Cultural Heritage Law.
Additionally, the time is now for establishing a heritage conservation fund to save endangered and at-risk tangible and intangible heritages across the country.
To safeguard, champion and celebrate our rich and diverse heritage is essential for all stakeholders and the people.

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