Conservators and students view two "nayars" - one cleaned, one uncleaned.
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The Return of Students at Shwe-nandaw Kyaung

Conservators and students view two "nayars" - one cleaned, one uncleaned.

This fall, we were thrilled to receive a second Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant for our work at Shwe-nandaw Kyaung in Mandalay, Myanmar, that allows World Monuments Fund to strengthen actions supporting its five core project objectives, in particular those that involve capacity building and public outreach. Our previous collaboration with university programs is being bolstered by a new relationship with the Department of Architecture at the Technological University of Mandalay (TUM) through Professor Zar Chi Min and her students. In parallel with WMF’s Shwe-nandaw Kyaung activities, Professor Zar Chi Min has been pursuing her interests in teak wood monastery architecture and planning for the restoration of U Bein Bridge, another of the country’s best known wood monuments. So it seemed a natural fit that the two institutions, TUM and WMF, representing education and preservation with huge overlaps, come together for the next phase of AFCP funding.

Work with the TUM students began in November focusing on Shwe-nandaw Kyaung’s historic decorative elements that are part of the veranda. In particular, the students will take on the digital drawing, condition mapping and assessment process of the dragon-like ‘nayar’ that are attached to the veranda’s vertical columns, one of Shwe-nandaw Kyaung’s most outstanding decorative features. Important work begun by WMF engineer Thandar Phyo, who herself attended similar hands-on training both at Shwe-nandaw Kyaung and at WMF’s project at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya, Thailand, is now being continued under her guidance.

The arrival of materials conservator Urszula Agnieszka Strugala has added a dimension of hands-on conservation, allowing students to not only see where their documentation and assessment work leads next, but also participate in it. Students from TUM are learning how their assessments and documentation efforts help define conservation strategies.

Long-term, TUM and WMF are in conversation with the Myanmar Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DOANM) about how to keep the students active in the Shwe-nandaw Kyaung project. This may include acting on some of WMF’s long-held aspirations for the monument to involve students in the ongoing architectural documentation drawing work, drainage improvements and the design of new visitor facilities. Looking further into the future, both are considering other important, possible collaborations in documenting Myanmar’s unique wood architecture, particular those like teak farmhouses that are threatened by wood scavengers and modern development.

We look forward to sharing updates with you on this exciting project.