Restoration of Ananda temple reveals hidden paintings

Ananda Temple in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20150116

Certainly of personal interest to me! Archaeologists working at the Ananda temple at Bagan to undo the white-washing of its walls 20 years ago have begun to uncover the paintings hidden underneath.

Ananda Temple in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20150116
Ananda Temple in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20150116

Hidden murals revealed at Ananda
Myanmar Times, 16 January 2015

Painstaking work to strip off layers of lime to reveal ancient murals is proceeding at Bagan’s Ananda Temple, halfway into a six-year project being undertaken by the Myanmar and Indian governments.

The project aims to restore and preserve the temple’s artwork – and undo the damage done by an ill-advised restoration campaign launched two decades ago.

The murals were whitewashed from 1975 as part of a military government-initiated restoration program that has been described by some archaeologists as “catastrophic”. Along with whitewashing, pagodas were renovated with commercial materials and in some cases completely rebuilt, often on top of the original foundations.

The program was partly responsible for Bagan being left off UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In 2005, a UNESCO official told the International Herald Tribune that “a Disney-style fantasy version of one of the world’s great religious and historical sites is being created by (the military) government. . . . They use the wrong materials to build wrongly shaped structures on top of magnificent ancient stupas”.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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