$3 Million Set for Thai Tomb, Cultural Village Project in Burma
By Kyaw Phyo Tha 1 July 2013
RANGOON—More than US$3 million has been earmarked to renovate the historic tomb of a former Siamese king and build a Thai cultural village near the Burmese city of Mandalay, according to a source close to the project.
A Thai restoration team is expected to spend more than 100 million baht ($3.23 million) on the project, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If needed, they will likely spend more,” the source added.
Since February this year, Thai experts have visited Amarapura Township, Mandalay Division, to excavate a stupa and verify whether it was the historic tomb of former Siamese King Uthumphon.
“According to historical records and our findings, we, both Burmese and Thai experts, can now say the tomb belongs to Uthumphon,” Mickey Heart, who has been granted full authority on the project by the Uthumara Memorial Foundation, a section of the Association of Siamese Architects, told reporters on Saturday.
Heart, who works as a go-between on the project for Burmese and Thai experts, added that an excavation team found an urn containing human bones, some pieces of yellow robes from a Buddhist monk, and a third artifact that belonged to a royal descendent.
The tomb resembles a small pagoda and is larger than surrounding grave markers at Linzin Hill graveyard on the edge of Taungthaman Lake. The foundation is seeking permission from local authorities in Mandalay to build the cultural village near the burial site in a bid to preserve the culture of Thai people living in the state in the 18th century.
“If we are granted [permission], the project will take at least two years,” Heart said.
According to Burmese history records, King Hsinbyushin (1736-76), the third king of Burma’s Konbaung Dynasty, invaded the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 and brought many of its subjects, including Uthumphon, back to his own capital, Ava.
Dr. Tin Maung Kyi, a well-known Burmese historian and Mandalay resident, previously told The Irrawaddy that Uthumphon was in monkhood when he was brought to Ava as a prisoner of war, and that after dying in captivity, the Thai king’s body was buried at Linzin Hill.
It is believed that Uthumphon died during the reign of King Bodawpaya (1745-1819), the sixth Burmese king of the same dynasty.
The authoritative “History of Ayutthaya” website says Uthumphon—who is better known as King Dok Madua, or “fig flower,” in Siamese history—was the youngest son of King Borommakot and a minor queen, Phiphit Montri. He was appointed a crown prince by his father.
The Irrawaddy photographer Teza Hlaing contributed to this report from Mandalay.