UNESCO to help Sigiri damsels in distress


By Dasun Edirisinghe

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and ICCROM Scientist Warner Smith in conversation at the ministry. Director General of the Central Cultural Fund Prof. Prishantha Gunawardena and Director General of Archeology Dr Senarath Dissanayake are also present with other officials.

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) attached to the UNESCO has agreed to assist in conserving Sigiri frescoes and the Mirror Wall, Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam says.

Kariyawasam said yesterday there were several issues as regards the protection of Sigiri frescoes and other archaeologically important places within the sprawling Sigiriya site.

"On our invitation ICCROM representative Warner Smith has already visited Sri Lanka," Kariyawasam said.

ICCROM is the only institution of its kind with a worldwide mandate to promote the conservation of all types of cultural heritage. It is an inter-governmental organisation at the service of member states. ICCROM contributes to this endeavour by providing knowledge, tools and training to those who are working hard to conserve culture.

Kariyawasam said he had met the ICCROM representative at the Ministry last week to discuss the situation.

The Minister earlier appointed an expert committee to look into matters that cause damage or destroy Sigiri paintings.

He said according to their report, several natural reasons such as climate change as well as manmade reasons had caused damage Sigiri Mirror Wall.

The committee had also recommended conserving the paintings and the Mirror Wall with modern scientific methods, Kariyawasam said.

"We requested the UNESCO to take action to conserve this world heritage site," he said, adding that as a result ICCROM had sent its expert.

He said ICCROM representative Smith would handle the conservation work of the paintings in the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple.

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