Rangoon (Mizzima) – The Rangoon division commander has decided to set up the first ‘Arts and Sculpture’ village in the division to promote arts and culture, including sculpture.
Khin Maung Aye, Chairman of the Central Co-operative Society, a group that has been exhibiting sculptures as part of fund raising for post Cyclone Nargis recovery, said Rangoon division Commander Maj-Gen Win Myint approved the idea of an ‘Arts and Sculpture’ village during the 10-day sculpture exhibition in Rangoon.
“We plan to have all the sculptures in one particular village and to promote the art form. The village would also source sculptures for export,” Khin Maung Aye told Mizzima.
During the January 25-to February 3 sculpture exhibition, Maj-Gen Win Myint agreed to designate Dagon Myo Thit and Seikkan Township to be the first ‘sculpture’ village in Burma.
The village will boast a collection of all types of sculptures from roughly hewn pieces to finished, sculpted statues, and will also be a tourist attraction site, sources close to those planning the village said.
The sculpture exhibition, which showcases sculptures crafted from trees in Rangoon that were felled during Cyclone Nargis, is being jointly held by the Central Co-operative Society of the Ministry of Co-operatives and Kaung Myanmar Aung Company Ltd. with the blessings of the Burmese junta supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe.
Khin Maung Aye, quoting tourists and visitors to the exhibition, told Mizzima that the exhibition, being held at Saya San Road Rangoon’s University Avenue, is the largest in the world.
The exhibition showcases myriad sculptures including Buddha statues, animals, prince and princesses, of heights ranging from 12 to 16 feet.
The more than 2000 sculptures at the exhibition were crafted by over 400 sculptors from Rangoon, Mandalay and Pegu divisions from trees in Rangoon and Irrawaddy delta, which were uprooted during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis.
Despite having begun sculpting the trees a month after the cyclone, sculptors said there are still plenty of trees to work on. Faced with difficulties in finding a suitable place to work, sculptors requested Rangoon division commander to earmark a place for them to work, Khin Maung Aye said.
On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis lashed Rangoon and Irrawaddy delta flattening trees, houses, and buildings and left about 140,000 people dead or missing and over two million homeless.
Rangoon, Burma’s former capital was known for its greenery but nearly 75 per cent of the trees in the city were uprooted by the cyclone, recorded as the worst natural catastrophe in the history of modern Burma.
Despite efforts by the government, international and local non-government organisations, United Nations agencies, and other humanitarian assistance groups, recovery work still remains incomplete after nearly two years.
The exhibition, has so far, attracted foreign tourists accounting for 75 per cent of the total visitors. Most visitors were reportedly interested in sculptures of a Pagan Lady, Legendary Warrior Kyan Sittha, Legendary Pyu Saw Htee, and Crabs.
Besides, a general invitation to the exhibition, organisers also extended special invitations to local and foreign journalists and media personnel, along with diplomats based in Rangoon.
“We are delighted to have our sculptures showcased at an international exhibition. But as a sculptor, I would like to tell the people to respect sculptors as we are artists and put a great deal of effort into our work,” said a sculptor from Pegu division, whose works are being showcased at the exhibition.
The exhibition, open to people without any entry fees, was inaugurated by Burmese military junta officials led by Lt-Gen Myint Swe of the Ministry of Defence on January 25.
In April 2009, a similar exhibition, showcasing over 1000 sculptures was held in Rangoon. Organisers said another such exhibition of sculptures and Burmese arts would be held in Beijing in April 2010. Order letters have also been received for the exhibition.
Edited by Ye Yint Aung