Final Chapter on Renovation of World’s Largest Book

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 19 November 2015

RANGOON — An ambitious renovation at Mandalay’s Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to a set of stone inscriptions known as “the world’s largest book”, is almost complete, according to the project’s implementing partners.

Burma’s Ministry of Culture teamed up with Sydney University’s Buddhist Studies Program earlier this year to clean, document and translate the site’s 729 stone tablets, which are believed to have been inscribed in 1868.

The cleaning process and photographic documentation is already complete, according to the director of Mandalay Division’s Department of Archaeology, Nyo Myint Tun. The inscriptions—which contain the entire Pali canon of Theravada Buddhist teachings—will be translated to Burmese, then into English.

Sydney University will also produce a book about the sacred site, one of the many popular religious destinations in central Burma. Nyo Myint Tun said that with proper maintenance the site could become a major tourist attraction.

“These stones are marble, they need to be preserved and cleaned very carefully. Now it seems better [maintained] than in the past,” he said.

The site, officially called Maha Lawkamarazein, is already a draw for visitors touring Mandalay’s abundant religious relics. The hundreds of stone slabs, each housed within its own masonry shrine at the foot of Mandalay Hill, were first installed during the reign of King Mindon.

The United Nations’ cultural agency, Unesco, added the Kuthodaw Inscriptions to its Memory of the World register in 2013.