Go to Razzle Dazzle welcome page. Myanmar (Burma)

Mandalay, etc.

Mandalay   |   Temples   |   etc.

July, 2004

Burma photo.
Stone carver

— Marble Stone Carving

Near the Mahamuni Paya is an area devoted to stone carving. We saw many statues, mostly Buddhas, being carved (see photo at left). Some were enormous. We were told that most were being made for export to China. After the carving is completed, the statues are polished, often by several people at once. Most of the carvers we saw were men; the polishers were women. Once the statues were polished they were covered with plastic and crated for shipment.

Burma photo.
Gold leaf

— Gold leaf

We visited a small workshop where they make gold leaf for the Burmese pilgrims who visit the many temples and pagodas here. Adding gold leaf to a Buddha image is a way to "make merit". In the past, a Burmese king might add hundreds of pounds of gold leaf to a Buddha or stupa (the spire of a pagoda) to make merit before his death.

The process begins with thin squares of gold foil that are sandwiched between sheets of bamboo paper in stacks of hundreds. The stack is then beaten with a heavy hammer for an hour. The gold becomes thinner, but expands to about 4 times its original area. The pieces are cut into quarters and beaten again for another hour. The process is repeated, and the gold is beaten for another 3 hours. Then it is finished.

The bamboo paper is a specialty product, and is made in the same workshop. The bamboo pulp is mixed with water and a cloth-covered frame is used to collect a thin film of bamboo fibers. Once dried, the bamboo paper is peeled from the frame, and cut into squares for use in making the gold leaf.

When the gold leaf is finished, it is cut into small squares (see photo at left) and packaged in bright red paper envelopes for sale. The prices were surprisingly low considering the amount of work required.

Burma photo.
Embroidery workers

— Embroidery

After visiting the stone carvers, we saw a fascinating shop where the owner had wood carvings, bronze figures, and embroidery for sale. He also had small workshops where these handicrafts were made. The embroidery was particularly interesting. The women use heavy gold and silver thread for much of the design, along with sequins, metal rings, and other materials. We purchased one embroidered piece, which we intend to use as a wall hanging. We bought a second, more brightly colored, piece in Thailand. It is designed to be used as a pillow case.

Burma photo.
Mandalay Palace

— Index —


— Mandalay Palace

The Mandalay Palace is located inside the Fort, a walled area surrounded by a moat in the center of Mandalay. It was once the center of the Kingdom. Now the fort is a military compound, and only the Palace is available to tourists. The buildings are being maintained to prevent deterioration from the elements, but none of the contents remain. Some of the buildings are still impressive, but the Palace is surely only a shadow of its former glory.

The exteriors are still interesting. Here are three photos:



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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
Website designed and created by Lois Richter, expanded by Jim.
Created 7/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.