Mandalay’s Artistry on Display

 

The Handicrafts of Mandalay

 

Mandalay has a rich and colorful history and one of the things that have been a constant throughout the centuries is the continuation of their artistry and expertise in creating fine handicrafts.

The city is home to numerous shops that display not only the resulting handicrafts, but the artisans at work as well. These creative artists show you how they go about the painstaking tasks of making these fine collectibles.

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A World of Wood

Wood-carving has been an important skill and form of artistic expression that has been handed down through the generations all over Myanmar for centuries. In Mandalay, along with having stunning examples of intricately-carved teak wood for sale, the workshops also allow you a glimpse into how these works of art are created.

Intricate wood-carving in Myanmar
A wood-carver finishes a teak Buddha image.

Surrounded by their preferred hand-tools of chisels and mallets, they slowly and painstakingly fashion incredibly beautiful carvings out of the hard and durable teak wood.

Intricate wood-carving in Myanmar
Workers demonstrating their skill in wood-carving.

As an added bonus, the shop we visited also had women creating exquisitely embroidered tapestries and clothing. These women illustrated the almost limitless creativity of the artisans of Myanmar.

Carved In Stone

Near the Mahamuni Pagoda, you’ll find a street where numerous marble-carving workshops practice their trade. Although they have sped up the process by the use of power tools in this day and age, their artistry and traditional carving style is the same as it’s been for centuries.

marble-carving workshops
Stone-carvers in Mandalay work almost exclusively with White Marble.

The white marble they use comes from the Sagin Quarry some 56 kilometers north of Mandalay. This almost flawless material is turned into thousands of Buddha images as well as animals and other shapes that people can order special order from the workshops.

Art You Can Wear

The city of Amarapura is the center for the art of silk-weaving in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. Here you can find shops that are happy to have you look on as they weave intricately-patterned skirts, jackets, shawls and wall-hangings.

silk-weaving in the Mandalay
The walls of silk-weaving shops in Amarapura are show off their vibrantly, colorful weavings.

The speed and dexterity at which they operate the complicated looms is a testament to the many years they have spent in perfecting their skills and techniques.

silk-weaving in the Mandalay
It takes speed and dexterity to operate a silk-weaving loom.

And, the beautiful articles they produce highlight their artistry and creativity.

Longyi
The silk-weaving shops have a wide variety of clothing for men and women.

A Monument to the Skills of Myanmar’s Wood-workers

If you are in the city of Amarapura, you owe it yourself to go and see U Bein Bridge, the world’s oldest and longest teak wood bridge. Spanning 1.2 Kilometers across Taungthaman Lake, this bridge was first constructed around 1850 and survived World War II.

U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Myanmar
The U Bein Bridge is the world’s oldest and longest teak bridge.

Although stagnation of the lake’s water has caused decay in some of the bridge’s supporting poles, plans are underway to restore the bridge to its former glory and a detour to the bridge is still a worthwhile trip to make. It is a fitting tribute the skills and talent of the wood-workers of the past.

 
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