1588 Bagan – 2019



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Lying on a bend of the Ayeyarwady River in the central plain of Myanmar, is a sacred landscape, featuring an exceptional range of Buddhist art and architecture. The seven components of the serial property include numerous temples, stupas, monasteries and places of pilgrimage, as well as archaeological remains, frescoes and sculptures. The property bears spectacular testimony to the peak of civilization (11th -13th centuries CE), when the site was the capital of a regional empire. This ensemble of monumental architecture reflects the strength of religious devotion of an early Buddhist empire.

Brief synthesis

is a sacred landscape which features an exceptional array of Buddhist art and architecture, demonstrates centuries of the cultural tradition of the Theravada Buddhist practice of merit making (Kammatic Buddhism), and provides dramatic evidence of the Period ( Period 11th – 13th centuries), when redistributional Buddhism became a mechanism of political control, with the king effectively acting as the chief donor. During this period, the civilisation gained control of the river transport, extending its influence over a large area. The traditions of merit making resulted in a rapid increase in temple construction, peaking in the 13th century. The serial property of eight components is located on a bend in the Ayeyarwady River, in the central dry zone of Myanmar. Seven of the components are located on one side of the River, and one (component 8) is located on the opposite side. Intangible attributes of the property are reflected in Buddhist worship and merit-making activities, traditional cultural practices and farming. The serial property of eight components consists of 3,595 recorded monuments – including stupas, temples and other structures for Buddhist spiritual practice, extensive archaeological resources, and many inscriptions, murals and sculptures. is a complex, layered cultural landscape which also incorporates living communities and contemporary urban areas.

Criterion (iii):

is an exceptional and continuing testimony to the Buddhist cultural tradition of merit making, and to the peak of civilisation in the 11th-13th centuries when it was the capital of a regional empire.

Criterion (iv):

contains an extraordinary ensemble of Buddhist monumental architecture, reflecting the strength of religious devotion of an early major Buddhist empire. Within the context of the rich expressions and traditions of Buddhist architecture and art found throughout , is distinctive and outstanding.

Criterion (vi):

is an exceptional example of the living Buddhist beliefs and traditions of merit making, expressed through the remarkable number of surviving stupas, temples and monasteries, supported by continuing religious traditions and activities. While the evidence of practices of merit-making are common in many Buddhist sites and areas, the influences established in the period, and the scale and diversity of expressions, and continuing traditions make exceptional.

Integrity

The integrity of is based on the ability of the 8 components to convey the Outstanding Universal Value; the material evidence of the landscape, archaeological sites, monuments, inscriptions, sculptures, murals, cloth paintings and the overall setting; the continuing intangible heritage and cultural practices; and the management of pressures on the state of conservation. The integrity is vulnerable due to the multiple factors affecting , tourism and development pressures, environmental pressures and natural disasters.

Authenticity

The authenticity of is demonstrated by the landscape of Buddhist monuments of diverse sizes, scales, materials, designs and antiquity; and the rich and continuing religious and cultural traditions. The major built elements within the property, particularly the very large temples and stupas, retain a high degree of authenticity in their form and design, both internally and externally. The decorative elements of many of the individual monuments survive in their original form. The authenticity has been impaired by inappropriate interventions from the 1970s and 1990s, and by the extensive damages that resulted from earthquakes.

Management and protection requirements

Legal protection of is provided by the newly amended Law for Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regions No. (20/2019), Protection and Preservation of Ancient Monuments Law 2015 (with updated bylaw 2016), and Protection and Preservation of Antique Objects Law 2015 (with updated bylaw 2016). These laws are administered by the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DANM). Effective legal protection is dependent on the full implementation of the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regions Law. The property is also protected through practices and commitment of the religious communities and local people.

Heritage zoning plans have been established and integrated into regional plans to ensure coordination. A further protective zone of 100 km x 100 km around the property has been established to control development. All developments within the protected zones are currently subject to site-specific archaeological assessment and input from the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DANM).

The National Coordinating Committee (BAGANCOM) has been established by the national government as the decision-making body for , ensuring inter-agency coordination. The main factors affecting are past conservation interventions, tourism and development pressures, environmental pressures and natural disasters.

The management system is based on the Integrated Management Framework. While some aspects of the management system have recently established, and others are not yet fully implemented, the approach is sound. Guidelines that have been developed to support the most pressing activities. In particular, risk reduction and disaster response have been significantly improved as part of the response to the 2016 earthquake. Further elaboration of the management system should be based on a landscape approach to the management of the serial property.

Some key strategic and policy documents, including the Sustainable Tourism Strategy, Archaeological Risk Plan, Agriculture Sector Strategy and Heritage Impact Assessment System are yet to be completed and/or fully operationalised. The property contains a number of intrusive elements, such as hotels. Rigorous Heritage Impact Assessment and clear decision making processes about development are critically important to the future management of . A long-term Hotels Strategy that identifies zones where hotels can be developed in the future has been recommended.

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