Thief impersonates monk to smuggle relics from ancient Burmese site by Asian Correspondent Staff | 18th February 2016 | @ascorrespondent 138 SOCIAL BUZZ Andaw Thein Temple at Mrauk U, Burma. Pic: Wikimedia Commons Andaw Thein Temple at Mrauk U, Burma. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Thief impersonates monk to smuggle relics from ancient Burmese site
by Asian Correspondent Staff | 18th February 2016 | @ascorrespondent
138
SOCIAL BUZZ
Andaw Thein Temple at Mrauk U, Burma. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Andaw Thein Temple at Mrauk U, Burma. Pic: Wikimedia Commons
ACCORDING to archaeologists in Burma (Myanmar), a thief recently impersonated a monk in order to smuggle ancient elephant statues out from the historic temples of Mrauk U without being detected.

Nu Mra San of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum told the Global New Light of Myanmar that it was far from the first case of relics being chiseled out from the monuments to be sold to dealers of ancient artifacts.

“One of the stolen statues surfaced in Yangon and it was later learnt that the culprit responsible had already sent similar valuable objects to Thailand three or four times,” he said.

The majority of the reclaimed statues were ancient elephant statues of the Vesali and Mrauk U dynasties and Nu Mra San despaired wondering how many significant historical finds had been lost to looters.

Located in the state of Rakhine, Mrauk U, one of Burma’s most famous archaeological sites, has been subjected to inordinate plundering by thieves and bungled restoration efforts over the past few years.

Despite claims from previous governments that conservation efforts were being put forward in order to prevent the country’s ancient cultural heritage from disappearing as a result of smuggling or deterioration, archaeologists have questioned the effectiveness of the government’s attempts.

Mrauk U Ancient Cultural Heritage Conservation Group chairperson Khin Than has said that there was a plethora of challenges facing the preservation of ancient buildings.

“Tenders were put out for restorations of areas of Mrauk U, but a great deal of highly-valued Rakhine cultural handiworks, such as pagodas, walls and brick walls, were destroyed in the process as those carrying out restorations were not archaeologists,” said Khin Than.

HT: Coconuts Yangon

Topics covered: Burma Mrauk U Myanmar

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