Arts and Crafts, Traditional

   Although sharing affinities with the arts and crafts of neighboring countries, Burmese textiles, tapestries, wood carving, pottery, and sculpture have evolved their own distinct styles. Cotton and silk longyis and other garments are woven by hand in various parts of the country, such as Arakan (Rakhine) State, Amarapura, and the Inle Lake region, and have attractive and sophisticated patterns; the intricate acheik patterns of Arakan are very popular among those who can afford them. Kalagas or tapestries, produced chiefly in Mandalay, have intricate appliqué designs. Burmese wood carving, traditionally used for the decoration of royal palaces and Buddhist monasteries, has enjoyed something of a revival because of a construction boom in international hotels in the 1990s, not only in Rangoon (Yangon) and Mandalay, but also in tourist sites, such as Pagan (Bagan). The most characteristic form of Burmese pottery is rather plain, used for practical purposes, such as the water jars that householders place by the side of the road for the benefit of passers-by; most of these are produced at Twante, near Rangoon. The carving of Buddha images from marble is done in Mandalay; the stone is quarried in nearby Sagyin district. The largest marble Buddha image, weighing over 500 tons, is located at the White Stone Buddha complex in Rangoon's Insein Township. Colorful parasols are made in Bassein (Pathein). Of all traditional arts, the making of lacquerware, especially in the Pagan region, is arguably the most developed, with a tremendous diversity of designs and shapes.
   The post-1988 military regime's encouragement of tourism has benefited traditional craftspeople; quality has improved since the years of socialist isolation (1962-1988), and tourists find lacquerware, kalagas, and silk fabrics especially attractive.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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