Burmese crafts: papier mâché , lacquerware & pottery

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

burmese papier mâché maker

burmese papier mâché maker  burmese papier mâché maker

Stumbled upon a papier mâché maker's home in New Bagan

 

Before my trip to Myanmar, I had no idea that a myriad of traditional crafts are being produced in different parts of the country. Apparently, every region uses local materials to produce in a specific craft that is unique to that area; hence, every region has its own a niche market (a good idea to employ in our increasingly homogeneous Western society).

Our first stop was Bagan, and the most unexpected surprise happened when we stumbled upon a papier mâché maker's house near our hotel. My travel companion spotted the back of a life-sized papier mâché in the courtyard of the craftsman's house, which evoked our curiosity... eventually the craftsman noticed us (two suspicious tourists peeking outside his house) and invited us in. Although the craftsman spoke little English, he was keen to show us his fantastic creations. He even climbed into the life-sized papier mâché to show us the interior of it. He told us that these papier mâchés are being employed at Buddhist festivals like Thingyan (Burmese New Year Festival), where other papier mâché toys and masks are being sold.

 

burmese pottery maker

burmese pottery maker

Small lacquer jars made by a local artisan in New Bagan

 

Bagan is the official home of lacquerware in Myanmar, so lacquerware can be seen in shops around the Bagan area. After our stop at the papier mâché maker's house, we met one of his neighbour, who is a lacquerware artisan and she creates tiny lacquer jars and napkin rings at her house.

Since the small village is away from the touristy area, the villagers were all very friendly and hospitable. It was particularly encouraging to see different craftsmen living side by side and working for themselves rather than in a factory setting.

 

burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer  burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer  burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer

burmese lacquer

A lacquerware workshop in Bagan

 

Two days later, we were taken to a lacquerware workshop in Bagan (as part of our tour), where we observed different artisans working on larger and finer pieces catered for tourists.

Although originated from China, Bagan has been producing lacquerware since the 12th/13th century. The sap used in lacquerware is called Thit-si (which means wood varnish) is collected from Melanorrhoea usitata, a tree native to South East Asia. The base of the lacquer vessels are usually made of coiled or woven bamboo strips mixed with horsehair, and later the surface is painted on the inside and outside with lacquer at least eight to sixteen different layers, then stored in a dry cellar. Since it may take a skilled craftsman six months or up to one year to produce high quality lacquerware, hence the prices of these crafts can come with hefty price tags.

 

burmese pottery maker

burmese pottery maker  burmese pottery maker

burmese pottery   burmese pottery

A village pottery maker outside of Mandalay

 

Unlike lacquerware, pottery is being produced in several areas of the country. And one of them is Nwe Nyein village near Kyauk Myaung, a riverside town along the Ayeyarwady River. Since the clay near Kyauk Myaung produces high quality pottery, therefore the area is known for its 50-gallon glazed jars. Most jars are exported, while others are primarily used for water storage. These water jars can often be seen in the streets or at Buddhist temples providing water for travelers or monks.

Although we didn't visit this village, we did visit a village outside of Mandalay where we saw some local pottery makers producing pottery (and drying chilies) at their houses.

 

burmese terracotta water jars

burmese terracotta water jars

 

burmese lacquer

burmese pottery

Top & 2nd rows: Terracotta water jars; 3rd row: Pottery shop in Bagan; Last row: miniature pottery kits for children

 

To be continued...


This post was posted in Travel, Paper craft, Traditional arts & crafts, ceramics & potteries, Myanmar and was tagged with paper craft, traditional crafts, Myanmar, pottery, Burmese craft, lacquerware

Comments