Narinjara News



SPDC Culture Minister's visit to ancient pagodas of Arakan leaves local astrologers worried



Akyab, Dec 21: Maj-Gen Kyi Aung, the Culture Minister of the military government recently made an astonishing visit to Arakan State, where he inspected a number of renovated ancient pagodas built by Arakanese kings in several of Arakan's past dynasties.


It was a rare occurance for a Burmese minister to visit so many sites of the Arakanese ancient pagodas.


"The recent visit of the Culture Minister was really astonishing for the Arakan people because he went to a number of ancient pagodas. Previously, no Burmese ministers have ever been there," said a local monk.


On December 12 and 13 he visited the Kaung- Hmudaw Pagoda, built by King Minbar in Ponnagyun Township and the excavation site of the ancient city of Danyawady, which is near the Mah Muni Buddha Image, that existed between BC 3325 and AD 325, in the Kyauk Taw Township.


He also visited the Laungkyettaung Mawshwekyetpha Pagoda, Koethaung Stupa, Phayaoak Pagoda and Mingaung Shwetu Pagoda, Cheinkaik Tri-Pitaka Chamber, Andaw Ordination Hall and Laymyethna Pagoda in Mrauk Oo Township, the last city of the Arakan dynasty.


Lastly, he also visited the renovation of Mould Nos 1, 2 and 5 of the ancient city of Vesali, and the ancient heritage sites in Vesali and Pauktaw villages under the Mrauk Oo Township.


On December 14, the Minister inspected the Cultural Museum of the Department of Cultural Institute and the Buddhology Museum of the Department of Archaeology in Akyab, or Sittway.


"The Minister's visit to Arakan may indicate that the SPDC military government has a plan to soon renovate Arakanese ancient pagodas and it is not seen to be just talk, as in previous times," said a local monk.


Arakanese astrologers worry, however, about the renovation of these ancient pagodas because in the past the SPDC has substituted Burmese architecture into the ancient Arakanese style pagodas and stupas.


The monk said that "All Arakanese were angered when the SPDC's renovation of Shithound Pagoda, or Ran Aungzaya, one of largest pagodas in Arakan, modernized it to look like a Burmese style pagoda with the Semen. Inside the pagodas there had been 80,000 old Buddha images. The pagoda was built by King Mibar in the 15th century after the conquer of Dhaka, under the Muslim king."


He said, "Burmese and Arakanese architecture is very different. They should renovate the pagodas by Arakanese architectural standards."


He compared Buddha's image in Burmese culture where the Buddha statue's ear touch his shoulder, where as an Arakanese made Buddha statue's ears do not touch. There are many cultural differences between the Arakanese and Burmese styles because Arakan State was a sovereign Asian country before 1874.


Arakan is a land rich in it's heritage, where there are over 5 million ancient images of Buddha and pagodas, most of which have been damaged and deteriorating for a long time, without any renovations or restorations.


A local resident of Mrauk Oo said in the past, the SPDC was not willing to renovate ancient Arakanese pagodas but now their mind is changing and their attention has turned to the ancient Arakanese pagodas, similar to what they did with Pagan.


He did not remark on the reasons behind the SPDC's willingness to renovate the Arakan pagodas.#




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