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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lacquerware (Yun-de) in Bagan, Myanmar


A pose with a teacup from a premier lacquerware factory in Bagan. The array of products, from teapots to jars and closets, are all handmade. The lacquer taken from a sap of a local tree is applied 8 to 16 times so that they do not fade easily. Aside from this painstaking coating of lacquer (consisting of one coat a day and then sun-dried before the next coat is applied again and the process goes on until the desired number of coating is reached).  


The lacquer.

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From a plain bamboo cup to fully coated cup.

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Each cup or piece is then etched with desired design and 
then a color is applied on each of the etched design.

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The gracious owner shows a sample of an etched big water glass.

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A cabinet is painstakingly being etched by this lady.
This explains the expensive pricing of the house.

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Another lady doing her piece.

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Pretty engravings.

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Sample of outstanding lacquer pieces.

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Yun-de is lacquerware in Burmese, and the art is called Pan yun. The lacquer is the sap tapped from the varnish tree Melanorrhoea usitata or Thitsee that grows wild in the forests of Myanmar (formerly Burma). It is straw-colored but turns black on exposure to air. When brushed in or coated on, it forms a hard glossy smooth surface resistant to a degree effects of exposure to moisture or heat.

Bayinnaung's conquest and subjugation in 1555-1562 of Manipur, Bhamo, Zinme (Chiang Mai), Linzin (Lan Xang), and up the Taping and Shweli rivers in the direction of Yunnan brought back large numbers of skilled craftsmen into Burma. It is thought that the finer sort of Burmese lacquerware, called Yun, was introduced during this period by imported artisans belonging to the Yun or Laos Shan tribes of the Chiang Mai region.

Bagan is the major centre for the lacquerware industry where the handicraft has been established for nearly two centuries, and still practiced in the traditional manner. Here a government school of lacquerware was founded in the 1920s. Since plastics, porcelain and metal have superseded lacquer in most everyday utensils, it is today manufactured in large workshops mainly for tourists who come to see the ancient temples of Bagan. At the village of Kyaukka near Monywa in the Chindwin valley, however, sturdy lacquer utensils are still produced for everyday use mainly in plain black. A decline in the number of visitors combined with the cost of resin, which has seen a 40 fold rise in 15 years, has led to the closure of over two thirds of more than 200 lacquerware workshops in Bagan. (Wikipedia)