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

Myanmar (Burma) is a beautiful country of creative people who reflect the nation's physical and cultural beauty in their finely wrought arts and crafts.
Myanmar Arts and Crafts

Traditional Burmese puppets for sale in a woodcarving shop in the Kyauksittan quarter of Mandalay, Myanmar. | Photo: Jon Sheer

Because the country has been isolated throughout much of modern history, many of its artistic treasures have been largely preserved, along with the culture that fostered them. The patina of modernity now evident in Yangon and other cities only serves to showcase this wondrous art.

Buddhist Influence

The Buddhist heritage of Myanmar (Burma) is a principal contributor to the arts scene. The religion’s towering architecture and innumerable statues are themselves works of art and craftsmanship. In the old capital city of Bagan, some 10,000 temples and pagodas once stood; an estimated 2,200 still do. In Yangon, the astonishing Schwedagon Pagoda inspires believers and non-believers alike.

Myanmar tradition speaks of 10 arts, ranging from gold- and silversmithing (pantain) to painting (panchi) to stone sculpture (pantamault). Among the 10 arts are skills more often attributed to craftspeople, rather than to artists, such as lathe-working, bricklaying, and blacksmithing.

Beauty and Function

This cultural merging of artists and artisans into one ethos lifts the vision of craftspeople and grounds the visionary work of artists. As a result, beauty and function are wonderfully wedded in Myanmar lacquer and copper work, in lathe turnings and masonry, as well as in paintings and sculpture.

Gold shimmers from ubiquitous gilded domes, but also is apt to be the shiniest part of a piece of lacquerware or a bamboo musical instrument. Myanmar’s gold-leaf industry is ancient and is artistry in its own right. The gold leaf still is created by hand in a process that leaves the gold so thin that wrinkles are smoothed by gently blowing on them.

Painting Endures

Painting predates Myanmar (Burma) as a nation, with cave paintings dating from the Stone Age discovered in remote areas of the country. Artists have thrived by brushing their paint on wall murals, on palm leaves and parchment, and on canvases in more recent eras. Today, Myanmar’s impressionists and abstract artists exhibit in Singapore and England—as well as in Myanmar’s own galleries.

Marionettes were once a passionately popular entertainment. Today, figurines as tall as 27 inches (69 centimeters) still dance gracefully on 18 strings connecting them to their puppet masters. An orchestra and singer give voice to the stage figures and are an essential part of the theater experience. Visitors to Myanmar often go out of their way to view these marionette performances. Because unlike the rest of the vibrant creative scene in Myanmar, marionette shows are a dying art.


More attractions in All Regions? Check out: Myanmar's Magnificent Buddhist Architecture

If you're interested in Arts & Culture attractions - check out: Myanmar's beauty secret: Thanaka

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