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Phase II: Regional expansion

Luang Prabang

Practicing bronze casting © UNESCO

Project overview and objectives
The three main objectives of the project in Luang Prabang during Phase II are (i) to institutionalize the center and make it financially sustainable, (ii) to upgrade skills of teaches and trainees and fill in gaps in knowledge and skills through specialized trainings, and (iii) ensure Luang Prabang’s role as national resource center for Buddhist arts and building crafts in Lao PDR.

Implementation activities include the following:

  • Market the training center’s contractible services in order to generate income to sustain the training and research in the long term 
  • Conduct specialized research and training under expert guidance, to fill in gaps remained regarding skills and expertise among the teachers and trainees of the Training Center, including the identification of sources for natural color pigment for mural painting, the identification of and/or the local production of colored glass used for making mosaics, basic conservation skills, with a particular focus on preventive conservation and emergency repair.
  • Develop a temple custodian manual focusing on preventive conservation and basic repair, using traditional materials and techniques.
  • Build capacity to document and analyze mural paintings and other descriptive decoration work. The results of this will be used to develop training materials that can be used in the training center in Luang Prabang.
  • Conduct training-of-trainers for monks from Bokeo and Champasak and provide on-site assistance in the form of mobile training teams is also foreseen in the project. 

Project output to date
The main focus during the period covered by this report has been on (i) the documentation of mural paintings, (ii) the provision of training-of-trainers workshops for monks from other project sites in Lao PDR, (iii) the mentoring of project teams in Champasak, Bokeo and Savannakhet and (iv) developing a temple custodian manual. Subsequent work will focus on (i) the marketing of the Center’s contactable services and (ii) research on for natural color pigments, glass for mosaics, basic and preventive conservation skills.

Documentation of mural paintings
In July 2005, a series of digital documentation workshops were conducted by Mr Philom Somsouthi, a Lao expert on digital photography and photo editing. The outcomes of these workshops include a pool of trained monks with basic skills of using high quality digital photoequipment and photo manipulation software as well as a manual which can be used as reference by the monks who participated in the training as well as by others interested in learning about this topic.

Following the workshops, the project has conducted trial systematic documentation of murals in Luang Prabang. The results of this trial were evaluated by the project team and UNESCO and adjustments to the methods were made. Documentation will continue during the coming project period. It is clear, however, that additional technical assistance will be required for the project team to be able to produce the inventories and catalogues that are the ultimate objective of this project component. Plans are currently being developed on how to provide this assistance.

Training-of-trainers workshops
The Luang Prabang project team has regularly conducted training-of-trainers workshops for monks from Bokeo and Champasak. These workshops have been very successful and have also contributed to strengthening the national network, in which Luang Prabang functions as the main node.

Mentoring project teams in Champasak, Bokeo and Savannakhet
The Luang Prabang project team has provided very effective on-site mentoring and assistance to all other project sites in Lao PDR. This has not only contributed to the success of project implementation at these sites but also strengthened Luang Prabang’s role as national resource center for traditional Buddhist arts and building crafts in Lao PDR.

Temple custodian manual
A preliminary draft of a temple custodian manual has been prepared by the project team, based on experiences within the project site itself, but also on experiences gained from participation in other activities by project team members, such as the mural conservation workshop in Vientiane reported in the previous progress report and the Theravada Subregional Caucus in Nan. Since the project site in Nan is also in the process of preparing such a manual, the two sites are exploring ways to collaborate on this.