Donations concerned with the renovation of Bagan’s historical and cultural sites are accepted only once there is approval from the Archaeology Department, an official has confirmed.
A debate has stirred up among Facebook users after an actress uploaded photos of a Buddha statue at the Pyathard Gyi pagoda in Bagan, Mandalay Region, which had been repainted thanks to her financial contributions.
Aung Aung Kyaw, director of the Bagan Division at the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, said: “The maintenance team approves renovations only after it is sure that the renovation will not damage the original art.
“In a Buddhist country like ours, it is hard to forbid the repainting of Buddha images. Many other Buddha statues have been repainted either by the department [or private donors]. This does not hinder the country’s effort to get Bagan recognised by Unesco as a world heritage site.”
A Nyaung-U based tourist guide commented: “I don’t think Unesco will mind such renovation.”
The Pyathard Gyi pagoda was last renovated by the Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple from Singapore, with contributions of Singaporean Buddhists, in 1998.
The then ministries of culture and religious affairs reportedly oversaw the renovation.