Ancient art and history comes alive at Monsoon Literature Festival
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.”
“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.