Govt to Seek Unesco Recognition of Myazedi Inscription

By Yan Pai 18 February 2014

Burma’s Ministry of Culture is planning to seek official recognition of a Bagan-era stone inscription from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), according to ministry officials.

During a meeting of the National Culture Central Committee held on Monday, it was decided that the Myazedi Inscription, dated 1113, would be submitted to Unesco in March for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register.

“We will apply for such status because we want the world to pay special attention to Burmese cultural heritage and literature,” a ministry official told The Irrawaddy.

The Myazedi Inscription is named after the Myazedi Pagoda in Myinkaba, a village located south of Bagan in Mandalay Division, near which it was discovered. It is also called the Yazakumar Inscription or Gubyaukgyi Inscription.

The inscription includes writing in the Pali, Pyu, Mon and Burmese languages, and is considered a very important historical, cultural and literary artifact.

There are two main stone inscriptions in Burma today—the one on the platform of the Myazedi Pagoda and another currently on display at the Bagan Archaeological Museum. The latter was discovered by German Pali scholar Dr. Emil Forchammar in 1886-87.

According to the Burmese Encyclopedia, the Myazedi Inscription, which was made and donated by Prince Yazakumar in honor of his father, King Kyansittha (1030-1112), includes 40 sentences in Pali, 34 in Burmese, 46 in Mon and 29 in Pyu. The epigraph, engraved on a stone a year after Kyansittha’s death, tells the story of the king and the prince, including the fact that the prince was not disappointed even though he was passed over for the throne.

If the inscription wins Unesco recognition, it will be the second time that the UN body has accepted an application from Burma.

In June 2013, Unesco added Mandalay’s Maha Lawkamarazein, considered the world’s largest book, to the organization’s Memory of the World Register. Also known as the Kuthodaw Inscriptions, the 729 stone slabs were installed at the foot of Mandalay Hill by King Mindon, who reigned as Burma’s penultimate king from 1853-1878.

The Myazedi Inscription is considered the oldest surviving stone inscription in Burma. Its status may be changed, however, as another stone inscription, which is believed to have been made by King Sawlu (1050–1084), was recently found in Mandalay’s Myittha Township and is being examined with the help of the Archaeological Survey of India.