Propping up Pagodas

My wife and I celebrated the start of the Chinese “Year of the Monkey” in Myanmar (Burma). Travelling from Beijing, you arrive in Yangon (formerly Rangoon, and the airline code is still RGN), and we decided to spend a day for sightseeing.

When you are in Yangon, you have to visit the famous Swedagon pagoda.


The following day we proceeded to Bagan, the ancient capital with its hundreds of pagodas and temples, which was our main reason for the trip. What an unbelievable place.


Dhammayazaka Pagoda


Apparently, real art experts and historians have complained about some of the recent reconstruction work, but for a novice, the many structures on the Bagan plane are amazing. The infrastructure in the area is still rudimentary, with only one or two tarmac main arteries, and most of the access to the many stupas and temples only by small sandy tracks. It therefore feels relatively unspoilt and authentic.


Re-construction continues until today, and maybe this reflects on the necessity for general upkeep.  I was most interested to see bamboo being used for scaffolding. The area around Bagan is very dry and the natural vegetation seems to comprise only thorn bushes, and I did not see any living bamboo. But a large number of bamboo poles had been shipped in for construction work from other parts of the country.

The main restoration work that I saw was taking place on the façade of the Ananda temple, which is one of the larger temples in Bagan. It has four impressive Buddha statues inside, one on each compass direction.

The northern wing of the temple was being repaired, and bamboo scaffolding covered the walls and part of the roof. I was happy to see that the scaffolding was well constructed and sturdy.


Some years ago, INBAR published guidelines on the erection of bamboo scaffolding.  These guidelines were based on research in Hong Kong, but they are applicable in all situations.  I was pleased to see that this construction in Myanmar follows some of the recommendations of the INBAR guidelines.



The bamboo scaffolding appeared very solid, and clearly provides a good working platform for the stone-masons.  There was even a bamboo stair case to get to the upper levels.


The tour of Ananda Temple was memorable, and it was interesting and rewarding to also include a bamboo aspect in my visit.


2 thoughts on “Propping up Pagodas

  1.  Dear Dr. Hansfriederich,             I am delighted to go through your mail which takes us back to 11 and 13 th centuries. The Pagodas of Myanmar are as old as the Angkor Wat  of Cambodia and they speak eloquently of those periods. What a grand architecture. we are all pigmies before our great grand ancestors. We are involved in doing more of destruction than construction and arguing one religion is better than other.  Let us grow as giant ‘Viswamanava- Universal men’ and shed our pigmy stature.       Thanks to the efforts of few conservationists who are trying to bring old glories back to life. Special thanks to you. Wishing both of you many more wonderful , constructive and rewarding years.  With regards,Yours sincerely,   A.C.Lakshmana, I.F.S, (Retd) Former Secretary to Govt. of Karnataka, House No 1, 7th main, 1 st crossGokulam IIIrd stage Mysore 570 002IndiaCell : (+91) 98453 22422 

    From: hansfriederich To: Sent: Monday, 15 February 2016 6:54 AM Subject: [New post] Propping up Pagodas #yiv2665121822 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2665121822 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2665121822 a.yiv2665121822primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2665121822 a.yiv2665121822primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2665121822 a.yiv2665121822primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2665121822 a.yiv2665121822primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2665121822 | hansfriederich posted: “My wife and I celebrated the start of the Chinese “Year of the Monkey” in Myanmar (Burma). Travelling from Beijing, you arrive in Yangon (formerly Rangoon, and the airline code is still RGN), and we decided to spend a day for sightseeing.When you are in” | |

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