The statue of a large, golden alms bowl, the centerpiece of one of Malwamyine’s roundabouts since 2007, was removed yesterday in front of a small crowd of onlookers.
“It was 10 AM when the statue was removed by crane and taken away. The statue will now be stored in the same place the old Bop Htaw statue was kept,” said Nai Aung Chan, a resident of Mon State’s capital city of Mawlamyine, formerly known as Moulmein.
The figure of the Bop Htaw, a golden bird and national symbol for millions of ethnic Mon people, was erected in the roundabout in 2005, in coincide with the opening of the Thanlwin Bridge, connecting the city’s main entry way to Mottama, also known as Martaban. The statue was then removed without public knowledge under orders from Snr. Gen. Than Shwe of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), disappearing at midnight during the rainy season in 2007 and replaced with the alms bowl.
Now, nine years later, members of the newly appointed government administration visited the storage facility at the Township Municipal Department on June 18 to check on the neglected Bop Htaw statue.
A public meeting to discuss replacing the alms bowl followed on June 24, leading to the formation of a 9-member restoration committee that met with state government officials on July 1, securing approval to put a new golden bird on the old perch.
The committee estimated that commissioning a new Bop Htaw statue and its installation in the roundabout would run about 4000,000 kyats, a cost that the state government declined to cover. Instead, committee members collected donations and workers commenced with fashioning the sculpture on July 7.
According to Nai Min Min Nwe, a member of the restoration committee, the new effigy will be erected at the end of August or early September.
“The Bop Htaw is finished. We will soon put it up.”
The Mon language term ‘Bop Htaw’ translates to golden Brahminy Duck or Sheldrake in English, and is called “hinthar” in Burmese. The bird is a symbol for ethnic Mon people and its likeness is frequently seen in Mon communities, particularly at village entrances and temples.
The new statue, unlike its predecessor that stood on two legs, stands on one leg to correspond with the bird’s depiction on the Mon national symbol.