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Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANPU (Wood Carving)

Myanmar 's woodcarving emerged before the Bagan period and subsequently improved in the middle of the Bagan era. The temples and palaces of the old were magnificently decorated with carved wooden gables and eaves, and other fabulous ornamentation comprised of the most creative and intricate woodcarvings.

It is a pity that many examples of the true genius of Myanmar wood carvers have suffered in the course of time but, fortunately, some of the most exquisite woodcarvings still survive in monasteries and pagodas.

The Shwezigone Pagoda in Bagan, Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay contain ornamentation of filigree-like woodcarving with scrolls, flowers, animals and supernatural-beings arranged in intricate patterns.

Carvings of nats, or mythical traditional spirits, marionettes, and figures of animals still flourishes today.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANPE (Blacksmith)

Myanmar 's blacksmith craft dates back to the Bagan era of the 11 th century. Blacksmiths created armour, weapons, agriculture implements, and household utensils.

The traditional blacksmith craft has declined but it is still important in the rural areas.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANDAIN (Gold/Silversmith)

Precious metalwork is one of the oldest Myanmar crafts, dating back to pre-Bagan times. Artistic Pyu silver ware was discovered in the mounds of the old shrines of Srikshetra. When King Anawrahta of Bagan brought the relics of Buddha and Buddhist scriptures to Bagan from the Mon capital Suvunna Boumi, various gold and silver artifacts were included.

In antiquity, royals, nobles and the wealthy used gold and silver utensils as status symbols. Silver items such as vases, trays, silver Buddha statuettes were also used for religious purposes. The art of making gold leaf is a renowned Myanmar craft. Gold leaf is popularly used by Buddhist devotees and is pasted on Buddha images as part of their offerings.

The process of pounding gold nuggets between layers of leather to get paper-thin gold foils is an intricate art, which is mos prevalent in Mandalay.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANTIN (Coppersmith)

Patin, like other crafts, can be traced to the Bagan era and it subsequently developed in the Bagan and Ava period. Popular copper items include Buddha images, gongs, bells, and round cattle bells.

The bells and gongs are used in every pagoda in Myanmar and in Buddhist rituals. Casting using copper as a base metal rendered into brass is also an ancient Myanmar craft.

Buddha images, bells and gongs, and other utilities such as figurines, altar items, vases and candle stands, and household or display items cast from brass are readily available in the marketplace. Casting is still an important industry in Mandalay.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANTAW (Stucco Carving)

Stucco carving can be traced to pre-Bagan times and continued to improve in the Bagan, Innwa, Amarapura and Yadanabon periods.

The Bagan era stucco works are famous for their detailed decorations.

Different styles emerged in the mid-Konebaung and Amarapura period - the works became Myanmar in style and refined. The curled leaves, buds, and flowers in bunches of this era are beautiful.

Monasteries and pagodas are decorated with intricate patterns of stucco works. Menu's Brick Monastery in Inwa, and the Atumashi Monastery in Mandalay are historical examples of Myanmar traditional stucco works.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANTAMAW (Stone Sculpture)

Sculpture in stone is one of the finest of Myanmar 's traditional crafts. This fine art pre-dates the Bagan era, and was well developed in the Pyu era. Magnificent stone sculptures were excavated at the old city site of Hanlin, at Shwe Bo township in upper Myanmar and at Srikshetra, near Pyay, in lower Myanmar.

The plaques depicting the life of Buddha found at the Ananda Pagoda, Bagan, are some of the finest stone sculptures in Myanmar. The carving of Buddha images from stone has become an important craft because, after all, every pagoda, monastery, and household has at least one Buddha image.

Huge images of Buddha were carved out from big, single alabaster blocks. High quality marble is quarried from the Sagyin hills north of Mandalay. The most venerable alabaster image is the Kyauktawgyi Buddha Image at the foot of the Mandalay hill.

Another huge Buddha image was carved from a big high quality alabaster block from Sagyin hills, and enshrined at Mindhamma Hillock in Yangon . The image is named the Lawkachanthar Arbaya Labamuni Image.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANYAN (Masonry)

Myanmar 's masonry is of high standard and dates back to Pyu era. Archeological findings at the old sites of Beikthano, Hanlin and Srikshetra have unearthed high standard Myanmar masonry work.

Masonry attained its zenith during the Bagan dynasty, and Southern Indian culture and Mon culture contributed much to the Bagan architecture. During that era, many religious edifices were built by the kings and lay people alike. The masonry works are remarkable for their strength, grandeur, beauty of designs, ornamentation, lighting and ventilation which hold spectators in awe.

Bagan became the wonder and the pride of Myanmar , and set the example for later endeavours.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANPUT (Turnery)

The craft of turnery started to develop in the Bagan period around the 8 th century A.D.

The artisans produced wood products using the turner's lathe. This craft also owed much to Mons of Suvunna Boumi.

The turner produced items of diverse shapes such as boxes, bowls, containers, beads, and kitchen utensils. Now this craft thrives mostly because of the tourism industry.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANCHI (Painting)

The history of Myanmar 's painting can be traced back to pre-historic times.

Stone age paintings have been discovered in Padalin cave, in the Shan State. Nine wall paintings, and brown-colored sketches were found there.

The 11 th century Bagan mural paintings have strong Indian influence and floral patterns are the main elements of the paintings. The Bagan period artists excelled in line drawing, and popular techniques included fresco, oil painting and tempera painting. Most of the paintings depict the 550 Jatakas (Buddha stories). Inwa paintings began depicting the social life of the people, and only red and green paints were mainly used in the murals. In early Konebaung era (17 th century), the paintings marked the transition from Myanmar traditional flat painting to western styles of perspective and tones. Blue colour was generously used and the paintings recorded the lifestyles, entertainment and scene of that era.

In the Yadanabone era western style painting began to penetrate, but traditional line sketches remained intact.During the colonial era western styles and modern techniques were introduced and became popular. Contemporary art also flourished in the 20 th century, and now Myanmar contemporary art is mainly impressionistic. In ancient times palm leaf painting and parchment painting flourished. Some of these paintings can be found intact in some pagodas and monasteries and at the National Museum of Myanmar.

Traditional Arts And Crafts
PANYUN (Lacquer ware)

Myanmar is famous for its fine lacquer ware. This craftsmanship can be traced back to China 's Shan dynasty of the 18 th to 11 th century BC, and reached the present-day Myanmar area in the 1 st century AD through the Nan Chao Empire.

When Anawrahta conquered Thaton in 1057 the artisans were brought to Bagan, and the craft flourished during Bagan era.

Lacquer ware is one of Myanmar 's most intricate crafts. Most of the traditional Myanmar lacquer ware is of a unique terracotta colour, and scenes from the Jatakas (the Buddha's former existence) are etched on the surface and filled in with green pigment.

Modern designs are of deep black background incised with genuine gold leaf. Decorative patterns are based on time-honoured designs, although their composition is left to the artist's imagination. Myanmar lacquer wares such as boxes, vases, trays, bowls and even coffee tables are now very popular and readily available in the markets.

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