Dragons Add Mythical Twist to Search for Dhammazedi Bell

26 August 2014

RANGOON — Finally, they appear to have struck a deal with the dragons—guardians of a sunken bell in Burma that, if found, is believed to be the world’s largest.

After more than two weeks probing watery depths southeast of Rangoon, a salvage team in search of Burma’s fabled Dhammazedi Bell on Tuesday claimed to have found the long-sought treasure. But the team said it was not the difficult diving conditions or 400 years of accumulated silt that had delayed announcement of the find: It was dragons.

In a statement circulated online on Tuesday, team leader San Lin said the team had spotted the sunken bell that is believed to have fallen into the murky waters of the Rangoon and Pegu rivers’ confluence more than four centuries ago. In revealing the discovery, the statement hearkened back to a press conference held last month, in which the leader of the salvage team told media that the bell was under the protection of “dragons.”

“We have to compete with them [dragons] to salvage the bell. They won’t give it to us eagerly,” he said in July.

The statement on Tuesday, which went viral among Burma’s nascent web community, said the team was delayed in announcing the good news for fear of interrupting the bell’s guardians.

“We are late in releasing the statement because dragons were paying homage to the bell with light on a grand scale. There are some secrets in Burmese ways to salvage the bell, so we haven’t disclosed them. Now we have got permission from some holy persons to reveal the information that we have found the bell,” the statement said.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement, which went on to thank those who had supported the search for the bell, and apologized for the belated announcement.

“We will restore the bell at the Shwedagon Pagoda soon,” the statement added, referring to the site where the bell was originally installed.

San Lin said in July that he expected the project would last 45 days at a cost of 200 million kyats (US$250,000), with most of the funding coming from donations. It was not immediately clear whether the dragons’ purported acquiescence would shorten the timeframe or reduce the cost allotted for the bell’s retrieval.