mercredi 20 juin 2012

India’s take on heritage protection

Hampi site, India

In India the size of historic monuments and cultural heritage centers is simply impressive: no less than 405 individual monuments and sites with new archaeological excavations and discoveries happening constantly.

Unfortunately, the damage to heritage sites it is not uncommon in the vast and highly populated country. Irresponsible tourism, inadequate renovations, vandalism or lack of knowledge are some of the causes to blame. But, as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) puts it, the biggest enemy of the monument is the scribbling on the monuments by students and other youngsters.  To tackle this and other problems the ASI launched its ‘Adopt a Heritage’ program in a bid to involve the public in conservation of historical monuments that are not protected by any national or international body.

Under this program, the conservation work is carried out in three main broad categories:

1. Chemical Preservation

2. Structural Conservation

3. Contemporary Awareness Program

It is the third category that attracts my attention as I am convinced of the power of education to transform reality. To accomplish the Contemporary Awareness Program ‘‘the citizens of India in general and students in specific are being roped in by the government to spread awareness and advertise about the preservation of the heritage. Many seminars are being organized every year where the students are lectured not only about the basic steps each can take individually on this issue but also are made familiarized with the amount of money, time, expertise and labour that goes into protecting these structures via chemical and other methods’’ the ASI explains.

‘‘he CBSE has instructed the schools to involve their students in the protection of monuments in their vicinity and encourage them to organize seminars, quizzes, skits and exhibitions on heritage conservation’’.

‘‘According to CBSE, organizing such activities will help the students to score better in their continuous and comprehensive evaluation from up to class X for social science’’. (Read the whole article here)

Some of the practical steps that the students are encouraged to follow are:

 1. Prevent ourselves and others from scribbling on the walls.

 2. Participating in the regular Cleanliness Drives.

 3. Being a part of the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ initiative

 4. Spreading awareness around about these monuments and their importance.

Rakhigarhi, India — Dating back 5,000 years, and one of South Asia's largest, oldest Indus Valley civilization sites. Under threat due to development pressures, insufficient management, and looting.

To Help

India’s National Culture Fund

Archaeological Survey of India

Global Heritage Fund

samedi 16 juin 2012


Market near the Djenne mosque in Timbuktu

News coming from Mali are not encouraging. The west african country, one of the poorest in the world, has been suffering from drought and political instability for years. But now a darker shadow leans over. On April 2012 radical fighters allied to Al-Qaeda captured the ancient city of Timbuktu, a city also known as ``The Pearl of the Desert`` and one of Africa’s most important cultural heritage centers. In its hey day, around the XIII – XVI centuries, Timbuktu, rich from the salt, gold, ivory and slaves trade, became a thriving cultural and commercial center and the scholarly hub in Africa. The Sankoremadrassah, an Islamic university, the numerous Islamic scholars that taught and work there as well as an extensive book trading network made the city famous all through the Islamic world and Europe.
Timbuktu, in addition to the mosques and the many mausoleums, has over 30 000 ancient manuscripts spared into different collections that constitute the most important library of religious and civil life in the Sahara and an essential heritage of Islam and history.
So news couldn’t be worst for this beautiful and unique city as it deals with extremist violence. The tomb of Sidi Mahmoud, a renowned scholar from the 14 century revered by the local people as a saint has been desecrated, the front door of the mausoleum and its protective curtain have been burned and the people of Timbuktu who gather there every Friday for prayer were prevented from accessing it.
Mr. Elmehdi Ag Wakina, director of the local aid agency AMSS denounced to the press in London the systematic looting of schools, health clinics, banks and even solar panels used to drive machinery to draw water from wells in the city of 55,000’’.
One statue has been decapitated’’, he continued, “spiritual places of worship have been desecrated and other religions banned’’.  “The people of Timbuktu opposed the rebels but in the face of weapons there was not much they could do”.
We join UNESCO's appeal for the protection of the Malian Cultural Property and add our wishes and prayers for all parties involved in the conflict to ensure immediate protection of this World Heritage property, essential to preserving Mali’s rich culture, which is part of the indivisible heritage of humanity’’. 

The world heritage property covers Timbuktu’s three main mosques:
The Djingareyber mosque

The Sankore mosque

The Sidi Yahya mosque
and 16 cemeteries and mausolea.

For ways to help:

dimanche 3 juin 2012

Welcome to “Tresures in peril”.

This Blog has the intention to add its voice to the efforts of rescuing and preserving our world heritage sites in danger. 
Our attention will be centered on those treasures under threat present on third world countries, as they are the most fragile and menaced and its people the most vulnerable.
This “Tresures in peril” initiative voluntarily joins UNESCO, the Global Heritage Fund, the World Monuments Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in raising awareness on the value of this sites and the need for their preservation. 
We will gladly add and actively seek for the cooperation of any non-profit organization, group or person sharing our objectives and willing to participate and to contribute to our initiative.  
Many thanks for joining in, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

 The ruins of Sans-Souci Palace in Millot, Haiti.