Arts and crafts typical from Myanmar

There are marveous things to be discovered in the many shops such as folk art pieces, betel boxes, cast bronze weights in many animal and bird shapes, old fabrics, instruments for tattooing, and countless other mysterious but charming pieces.

Myanmar craftsmen are highly skilled in carving materials ranging from bone, wood and jade. Sandalwood Buddha images or figurines and jewelry carved from jade make especially precious souvenirs.

Hand woven cottons and silks are plentiful and in all colors of the spectrum. Silk pieces woven with a hundred or more shuttles, which create intricate patterns, is unique to Myanmar. Fabrics and exotic blankets hand-woven by the ethnic hill tribes are also available.

Gems and Jewelry
With prices to suit all budgets, jade, ribues, sapphires and pearls of all color and size are available. Silver and golden pearls are pricey but worthwhile investments.

Twice a year there are Gems Emporium Sales where buyers from around the world compete by auction.

Lacquer ware
The most representative craft of Myanmar, lacquer ware comes in many forms: plain reds, blacks and golds, ethed with color-filled designs or gilded, embellished with mirror inlays and fake gems. The items range from bracelets to place mats to furniture.

The marionette theatre is a grand tradition of Myanmar culture, with puppets once bearing bad news to the kings that human nessengers dared not utter. Many are available in all sizes, gorgeously dressed in faux gems and silks.

The many galleries and shops offer exquisite water colors, a medium in which the local artists excel. There are many galleries in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan, well worth an afternoon's browsing.

Pottery and basketry
Glazed ware is still used in many houses to store grain, oil or water and produced in large numbers for both domestic use and export. Cane or bamboo furniture, baskets, bags and other utensils are abundantly found in many markets.

Boxes and artefacts of silver are hammered by hand and the traditional items are small boxes in filigree or relief work, showing traditional motifs, mythical creatures or scenes from the classics. The smaller ones make excellent pillboxes.

Scenes of local life or traditional mtifs are worked in gold and silver thread; figures are formed in silk and brass sequins on a velvet background. This is an old tradition, and once used only in the royal palaces as room dividers.