Photos - Myanmar: Bagan - Making laquerware, sunsets, more temples....and their unique vehicles

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Sun 8 Dec 2013 13:50

Bagan Lacquerware

We had a lazy morning at the resort then set off to see how they make their fab pieces of lacquer ware.  We chose the Golden Cuckoo, it sounded like a place we would like to visit.  They took us through the various stages of how lacquer pieces are made, it is done by hand and takes a long time from start to finish.  The Myanmar lacquer pieces have been found in temples as far back as the 12th century. 


They collect sap from the lacquer tree, the tree has to be ten years old before they can collect the resin, they either  make cuts into the tree and scrape the sap into buckets or the trees are sapped the same way we in Canada or the Northeast USA get our maple syrup…. of course these days we use plastic hoses instead of wooden spouts.   Small amounts of iron oxide is added to the raw lacquer the colour can be red (cinnabar creates the red colour) or black.  We saw a lot of red pieces when we visited China.

This man was twirling the raw lacquer on the instrument to purify and get the right consistency.


Here they are shaping the bamboo, you can see the start of the base of a vase or bowl and the finished base.




He is covering the piece with Thayo, a mixture of ashes and resin paste, this is done at least seven times it can be many many more it just depends on the piece and what it is going to be used for.



Polishing the piece with charcoal.

They sand the piece by hand and then wash it before putting it in the special drying room for 24 hours.  Then it is polished and washed again and again until the finish is very fine/smooth.  The last layer receives the colours red, green, blue and yellow.  Next the artists scrape a design onto the piece….. I never saw a paper design …. they were doing all of the designs from their memory.

These young girls are doing the work as they have very good eyesight, this is what they do, day after day, year after year, very hard work sitting in one position for hours.



You can see the red design coming through and the plate is red lacquer.


The details in the designs are very fine…. you have to admire what these people were doing, and we just loved the designs.


We loved them so much we bought a few pieces…


Bagan Sunset

Sometimes Mother Nature gives us a glimpse of just what she can do…


John climbed the stairs to the top of one of the temples and here are some of the views he saw.




Temples and stupas as far as you can see.






Here are all the happy campers who got that sunset.  We saw some interesting trucks on our way back to the resort.


These little trucks do look odd without their bonnets…


We kept on seeing these very strange trucks; there is no engine bonnet so that the engine has a better chance to not overheat.  This is the primary truck used in the rural areas and small towns of Myanmar; the truck bodies were made in Myanmar and the single cylinder/belt drive engines were manufactured in Japan….until about 20 years ago……so the inexpensive trucks will be passing into antiquity as the years move along.  

This is the front entrance to our hotel.

Farewell to Bagan, we are off to our last stop in Myanmar, Yangon (formerly Rangoon when the British ruled Myanmar (which they called Burma).