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Lacquerware in Bagan

Bagan is famous for its beautiful Lacquerware

About Bagan Lacquerware

Bagan is well-known for lacquerware products. There are plenty of lacquerware workshops and shops to visit in Bagan. This cottage industry dates back to 12th Century A.D and runs in Burmese families where fathers pass it on to their sons as a tradition.

There are 3 types of lacquareware in Bagan

  • Relief molded (Thayoe Pan Yun)
  • Incised (Ka Nyit Yun)
  • With real gold leaf (Shwe Zawa Yun)


Stages of making lacquerware

  1. Bamboo is cut and shaped into the desired object - Such as, dishes, vases, plates, betel boxes and various other boxes, crockery, pieces of furniture, musical instruments, earthenware jars etc…
  2. Lacquering - The finished Bamboo object is applied with several layers of lacquer manually. The quality of the product depends on the number of layers of lacquer. So, more layers mean better quality.
  3. Drying - The lacquered product is then left to dry for about a week in a dark and wet place. If the place is not wet enough the lacquer ware will turn out bad.
  4. Washing - After drying, in some cases workers sand paper it with charcoal to make it shine better, several times until the lacquer producer is satisfied. Some people use ashes of Ox bone to polish the product and then the finger marks are removed with a soft fabric.
  5. 7 or 9 layers of lacquering - Usually each time the product goes through drying a new lacquer layer is applied and seven layers is the norm for a beautiful finish.
  6. Coloring - After repeated drying and polishing of the object, colors are applied. Normally red, yellow, blue and green are used. A mixture of these colors called “Hinthabada” is made by adding Mercury cinnabar powder to lacquer.
  7. Decoration - Manual free hand engravings are done patiently and skillfully. It is a wonder to watch these local artists decorate so freely with no models or patterns using only their hands, memory, a stylet and a brush.


Lacquerware is made of Bamboo

Bamboo taken from the forests in Chin state are used as the base to make these masterpieces and lacquer is applied at several stages to get the finishing touch.


Where to buy Lacquerware in Bagan?

Any horsecart or taxi driver will be happy to bring you to the lacquerware shop of your choice because they will get a commission when you buy lacquerware products