Art and Crafts of Myanmar
“Ten Flowers” is the name fondly given to the traditional art and crafts of Myanmar. Since Myanmar is the place steeped in tradition, all the 10 art and crafts are practiced in the country even now. The people of Myanmar are proud to practice them and display the specimens of artistic brilliance to the world.
Lacquerware making is an ingenious form of craft practiced in Myanmar known as Panyun. Myanmar craftsmen specialize in making lacquerware which is created on a framework of finely chopped strips of bamboo. These strips are covered with a mixture of clay, ash and thit-see resin and given a final touch by polishing with fossil wood. A traditional Myanmar lacquerware is of terracotta color with scenes from the Jatak painted on them by hand. The most popular forms of lacquerware include coffee table, vases, trays and boxes. This form of craft was practiced since the Bagan period in Myanmar.
Pantain is the name given to the popular form of art and craft practiced in Myanmar dealing with gold and silverware. More than gold Myanmar craftsmen are proud of their silverware making skills because this has down as a legacy from their ancestors. Beautifully embellished and intricately designed silverware representing the unmatched skills of the gold and silver smiths of Myanmar have astounded people from across the world from centuries. This art is believed to have descended from the mon artists from the time of King Anawrahta.
Wood carving or Panpu
Wood carving or Panpu is another form of fine art and craft practiced in Myanmar by the talented craftsmen. Various artifacts embellished with intricate wood carvings can be found in religious buildings, houses as well as hotels in Myanmar. Teak wood of excellent quality is available at a cheap rate in Myanmar and hence the art of wood carvings has stayed and developed in Myanmar over the years. Some of the monasteries in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay have preserved ornate woodcarvings resembling filigree work with flowers, scrolls and supernatural figures arranged in innovative patterns.
Panput is the craft of objects and designs on a lathe. This emerged during the 8th century in Bagan and the turner artists gave shape to wood by turning it on lathe into boxes, chairs, tables and food containers. This art also has a lot of influence of the Mon artists from Suvanna Bhumi.
Panchi or the practice of fine art is another specialty of Myanmar artists. Traces of stone paintings have been found in Myanmar from the pre-historic times. The artists have continued the legacy and displayed their skills with the brush till date. Floral motifs are the commonest with tales from Jataka being depicted in the form of frescos, tempera and oil painting. The palm leaf and parchment painting have been preserved in various monasteries in Myanmar.
Another interesting art and craft form practiced in Myanmar is that of puppetry. The craftsmen who create the puppets also arrange puppet shows which are extremely entertaining. Different types of woods are used to make different puppets. The puppets generally represent animals, humans, demons, mythological characters and spirits. For additional information refer to our featured article on Puppetry.