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Myanmar Arts and Crafts Reflect a Rich Culture All Regions Arts & Culture | Shopping & Markets | 0 comments

Myanmar’s relative isolation and deeply traditional culture have contributed to a thriving arts and crafts industry.
Myanmar Arts and Crafts Reflect a Rich Culture

Whereas other countries in the region have begun to lose touch with their roots, Myanmar (Burma) continues to practice and celebrate its ancient customs through a range of creative outlets. Heavily influenced by Buddhism, many of the crafts produced in Myanmar play a practical role in everyday life.

Traditional Burmese Arts & Crafts

Lacquerware

Myanmar’s foremost craft, lacquerware, is created using sap, which is applied to items such as vases, bowls and boxes. The sap turns black when it is dried and can then be polished and decorated with intricate designs. Myanmar lacquerware traditionally depicts stories of Buddha’s life, using intricate designs etched in gold leaf and pigment of various colors. It is a long, slow, and highly skilled process. Bagan is especially well known for its lacquerware production.

Pottery

Pottery-making is perhaps the most functional of Myanmar’s craft industries, though the results are no less beautiful that any other’s. The items produced by pottery makers (vessels for cooking and storing water, for example) are still very much part of everyday life.

Thick clay is mixed with silt from local rivers; the resulting material is then left to dry before being ground into a powder, sieved, and soaked again in water until it becomes a smooth substance that can be manipulated and shaped. There are several areas of Myanmar that are particularly associated with pottery-making: These include the villages of New Nyein, Shwe Khun, Shwe Tiek and Malar in the Shwebo region, and Bago and Twante near Yangon.

Stone-Carving

Another craft that draws heavily on Buddhist tradition, stone carving is a source of great pride and honor for the people of Myanmar. Workshops can be found throughout the country, but the highest concentration is to be found in Mandalay, where the area near Mahamuni Paya is a hub of stone-carving activity. Here you can see the process from its very beginning to the finished article, and marvel at the skill involved in this deeply traditional craft.

Bronze-Casting

Another craft representing ancient spiritual practices and serving everyday practical needs is bronze casting, which has its modern-day base in Mandalay. Here, exquisite articles are produced for temples throughout the country. Bells, gongs, cymbals, pots, bowls, Buddhas and other items bearing unmistakeable Myanmar design are crafted using traditional casting techniques. The smaller examples of bronze casting are popular as souvenirs.

Woven Textiles

Myanmar’s textile heritage is long and rich, and although it has been influenced by neighboring Southeast Asian countries, it carries its own distinctive traditions within its designs. Mandalay and Amarapura are centers for the production of silk and cotton sarongs, which are worn by men and women alike in Myanmar (Burma). Men tend to wear simple designs, whereas women favor sarongs that are intricate and bright, often carrying traditional colors and patterns.

Marionettes

The practice of depicting ancient stories in the form of puppet theater might have died out completely had it not been for the Mandalay Marionette Theatre, whose nightly performances have prompted a surge in popularity for this unique Myanmar tradition. The stories often center around Buddha’s life, but may also depict local legend. It is possible to buy traditionally-crafted puppets throughout the country; these are popular as tourist souvenirs.

Whackin’ White Cheroots

Made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s Road to Mandalay, cheroots are cylindrical cigars that are still extremely popular with the people of Myanmar. They’re typically produced in factories around Shan and Bago, and these days tend to be green and slender, although large white cheroots are still widely available. Cheroots are traditional to Myanmar and India; they last longer than regular cigarettes and produce a powerful aroma.


More attractions in All Regions? Check out: Carve Killer Waves on Myanmar's Beaches

If you're interested in Arts & Culture attractions - check out: The Mon

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