An­cient art and his­tory comes alive at Mon­soon Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LAE PHYU PYA MYO MYINT lae­phyupya@gmail.com

AMIDST the hu­mid­ity of rainy sea­son, writ­ers, his­to­ri­ans and avid read­ers gath­ered for the third an­nual Mon­soon Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val on Septem­ber 2-4 at Yangon Gallery. This year’s pro­gram was en­ti­tled “The Re­mem­brance of Mon­soon Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val for Art Lovers” and fea­tured lec­tures and talks by lead­ing schol­ars in the arts.

“The fes­ti­val is in its third year,” said as­sis­tant co­or­di­na­tor Htet Naing Lynn of Yangon Gallery. “The goal of the fes­ti­val is to ex­change knowl­edge about lit­er­a­ture, ar­chae­ol­ogy and film.”

Fol­low­ing the re­cent 6.8 mag­ni­tude earthquake that rat­tled Ba­gan, de­signer Myo Swe Than pre­sented a talk called “The Value of Ba­gan and the International Com­mit­ment to Pre­serve its Pago­das” on the first day of the fes­ti­val.

Through­out the sec­ond day, schol­ars gave a va­ri­ety of lec­tures rang­ing from U Win Maung’s “Art from Ar­chae­ol­ogy” to Chit Oo Nyo’s “His­tory and the His­tor­i­cal Novel”.

In the “Art from Ar­chae­ol­ogy” lec­ture, U Win Maung, an ar­chae­ol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Dé­cor-Pro­ject, spoke about the arts of Myan­mar’s an­cient cul­tures.

He brought up pieces - a “Mother God­dess” made from and dec­o­rated with bronze, golden dice, coins, and the serivat­sas etched from the Pyu pe­riod, and beads from the Pyu pe­riod - as ex­am­ples of the relics of an­cient cul­ture.

Not only an ar­chae­ol­o­gist, U Win Maung is also a se­ri­ous col­lec­tor of an­tiq­uity both from lo­cal and for­eign cul­tures.

“There is two-gen­er­a­tion gap for ar­chae­ol­o­gists. Ar­chae­ol­ogy isn’t val­ued so ar­chae­ol­ogy books also aren’t val­ued. Younger gen­er­a­tions have dif­fi­culty study­ing and read­ing about Myan­mar ar­chae­ol­ogy. There­fore, we pro­mote fes­ti­vals like this to en­sure a wide range of books and stud­ies are avail­able for the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Dur­ing the “His­tory and His­tor­i­cal Novel” lec­ture, writer Chit Oo Nyo dis­cussed the dif­fer­ent roles of his­tory it­self and the his­tor­i­cal novel. While the his­tory is gen­er­ally pas­sive, he ar­gued, the his­tor­i­cal novel cre­ates an ac­tive ap­proach to un­der­stand­ing his­tor­i­cal events and the ex­pe­ri­ences of those in­volved.

“It is so fruit­ful to be able to dis­cuss with the au­di­ence di­rectly,” he said. “I can re­ceive feed­back and re­ally un­der­stand what my read­ers think. I am very in­ter­ested in what art lovers have to say.”

Artist Nyein Chan Su, who came to the fes­ti­val as an au­di­ence mem­ber this year be­lieves the fes­ti­val can ben­e­fit not only art lovers but any­one who wants to learn about Myan­mar’s long and of­ten-erased his­tory.

“No one talks about his­tory these days. Only his­to­ri­ans talk about his­tory,” he said. “If one could learn about an­cient stone and palm leaf in­scrip­tions on Peisa pa­per or Para­pitesa writ­ing on parch­ment, and the Burmese in­scrip­tions on gi­ant bells, then they would be learn­ing about our his­tory. That is why I come and lis­ten.”

Pho­tos: Naing Wynn Htoon

“No one talks about his­tory these days,” lamented one vis­i­tor.

Vis­i­tors learned about an­cient cul­tures of the Golden Land.

The fes­ti­val is in its third year.

Chit Oo Nyo speaks about “His­tory and the His­tor­i­cal Novel”.

His­tory buffs look through books.

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