Restoration of Mandalay’s Famed Teak Monastery to Resume After Setbacks

By Zarni Mann 14 January 2016

MANDALAY — An ambitious restoration of Mandalay’s Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery looks set to resume in February, following lengthy delays in the supply of teak pillars needed to repair the building’s terrace.

The project, which was initially supposed to take two years to complete, began in February 2014 as a collaboration between Burma’s Ministry of Culture, the US Embassy and US-based NGO World Monuments Fund (WMF).

Jeff Allen, a program director at WMF told The Irrawaddy that the estimated 30 teak logs have been “made available,” and the group will retrieve them from Loikaw, in Karenni State, this weekend. The delays will have a minor impact on the project timeline, he added.

Allen said the full extent of the work has yet to be fully assessed, making a completion date difficult to estimate. Some parts of the structure will need to be replaced completely, while others simply need repair.

“We don’t know exactly how many pillars have decayed yet,” he said.”Moreover, most of the staircases are full of termites and we still don’t know if they will need to be replaced.”

Allen said a team has already begun working on pest control, improving the drainage system and reinforcing masonry on the stairwells of the ancient monastery.

The Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery, also known as the Golden Palace Monastery, was originally a royal chamber of Burma’s King Mindon and was first located inside the Mandalay Palace compound. It was originally covered with gold leaf, inside and out, with glass mosaics inside. Wood carvings illustrating Buddhist myths stretched from ceiling to floor.

After King Mindon passed away, his son, King Thibaw, moved it out of the palace compound to become a monastery. It is the only apartment of the royal palace to survive the aerial bombardment of Mandalay during World War II, when most of the historic buildings of Mandalay Palace were razed to the ground.