The sun was hot in Myanmar in early May. Against the scorching sun, cultural heritage protection experts from China were repairing Thatbyinnyu Phaya damaged by the earthquake in Bagan, Myanmar, hoping to protect the ancient pagoda from rainy season.
On August 24, 2016, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Myanmar, causing damage to hundreds of pagodas and statues including Thatbyinnyu Phaya. Since then, Chinese cultural heritage protection experts have visited Bagan several times and proposed a preliminary plan for pagoda restoration. On September 22, 2018, China and Myanmar signed an agreement in Bagan to repair Thatbyinnyu Phaya.
A group of 21 experts from the Shaanxi Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Protection Engineering Co Ltd arrived in Myanmar on April 22, and immediately began to provide emergency rescue support for Thatbyinnyu Phaya in Bagan.
Thatbyinnyu Phaya was built in 1144. It is the tallest pagoda in the Bagan area, with a height of 65 meters and a tower bottom covering an area of 8,500 square meters.
The rainy season in Myanmar is from June to October, so experts urgently waterproofed and supported the middle and upper parts of the pagoda to prevent it from being damaged twice during the rainy season.
Huang Guangqi, board chairman and general manager of Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Protection Engineering Co Ltd, said that after a few days of preliminary exploration work, the expert group has now formulated an emergency rescue plan and decided to erect steel pipes to temporarily support the interior of the pagoda, with rain protection work to be done on the outside. The plan was approved by the Myanmar side and was implemented. The repair work is expected to be completed by May 30.
Huang told reporters that the members of the Chinese expert group who participated in the repair work of Thatbyinnyu Phaya came from the fields of cultural heritage protection, mural protection, civil engineering, and archaeological investigation. During the emergency rescue, environmental monitoring, mural research, and archaeological investigation were also in operation.
After the completion of the repair work, the expert group will conduct a comprehensive survey of Thatbyinnyu Phaya. It is expected that the comprehensive repair of the pagoda will be launched in 2020, and the project may last 9 years.
A Burmese translator who assisted the expert group told reporters that Thatbyinnyu Phaya is one of Bagan’s most famous and most popular pagodas, adding that the Chinese experts’ repair work on the pagoda is of great significance.