Myanmar Art, Burmese Crafts & Buddhist Objects

Myanmar Art, Burmese Crafts & Buddhist Objects

 

There is a wide spectrum such as murals, Buddha statues, marble, bronze, brass, jade, paintings, wood carvings and more. This can be considered somehow as a treasures and a pleasures. The variety of styles and forms is amazing and is often related to religion since various objects are for decorative purposes and worshipping. Another interesting fact is how deep is this integrated into the everyday life of the people.

Precious jewelry composition, beautiful paintings, mostly with a religious theme in various pagodas in form of marble sculptures. Gold plated Buddha statues and images, relief objects depicting famous jakata stories and so on, there is a wide selection.

 

The relation to art

is a bit different as we know it elsewhere since Myanmar’s don’t make a difference between arts and crafts.

Here are more arts and crafts in various directions, Burmese art has mostly Buddhist theme, lacquer is a typical different direction rather useful items, lesser artworks although they are sometimes very beautiful it show a different direction since it is rather profane where the purpose and a beautiful design has priority.

 

Buddhist art painting
Burmese art painting

This is tableware, furniture and sometimes pure beauty objects, lacquer ware is very decorative and its natural, its not plastic but has similar properties and is commonly used every day, read more.Contemporary objects are again often Buddha oriented but there are plenty of abstract paintings and forms of various types, all is very colorful and decorative.

Plenty objects are created every day by a artists, they are very busy and exhibitions sometimes even hits Singapore, USA and Europe but there is no industry as we have it in the West and money to be made is slim. Anyway they are very productive and the whole scene is slowly shifting into abstract creations with strong colors. There is also a bigger production in the commercial direction mainly with Buddha statues in marble, brass and bronze casting, this is mainly done at Mandalay around the Mahamuni pagoda complex.

Buddhist art Bagan temple
In a temple at Bagan

Buddha Art Fresco

 

Myanmar art depicted as a Buddha mural.

Usually a murals and fresco tell a story, this story is rendered in one picture with many scenes divided by floral boundaries, some space is left to write explanations. The main themes are jataka stories very often blended with scenes of the daily life of that time, more.Other variant are marvelous woodcarvings and a very special form is so called ‘precious stones painting’ where the usual painted colors are substituted by gemstones, lacquer art is another for of arts and crafts probably one of the best known

E.g. woodcarving, a carver has the same status as an artist painter, a silversmith the same as an architect or a creator of a beautiful marble sculpture. The idea behind is always the same, objects for religious purposes and decorative items for the house and elsewhere, designs also have always the beauty of the object in mind. Some pretty sandalwood carvings are here.Motifs from the real world and imagination plus supernatural often come together, gods, Nats , mythological creatures and Buddhist art paintings or drawings are pulled together, the best example are the jakata stories which are  very popular motifs in temples.
Artists always try to find a good balance of all common used parameters that includes floral patterns,read more.

Burmese art

clearly show the influence Buddhism in the country. It can be seen in many galleries in Yangon, Mandalay and other places exhibitions sometimes reach a international audiences in Singapore via private galleries but anyway the infrastructure still needs lots of improvement and should be open to a wider audience. Maybe by government supported exhibitions in Asia and elsewhere since contemporary artwork has something to tell and this is not only religion.

Myanmar arts and crafts
Arts and crafts

burmese art
Myanmar art paintings

Buddhist Art Painting Monks
Burma art painting

Crafts

and traditional artwork has often religious components included, they show  theology and show that local artists are able to produce paintings and other subjects on high quality. Woodcarvings can be found in the handicraft section.

Words such as the Orient, the East etc. are loaded with exotic imaginations of indigenous identities. This is particular evident in terms of culture which can be experienced by traveling to the country or just have a look for Thailand in various art shops and galleries in Bangkok or Singapore for Buddha Statues and Buddhist paintings.The desire to see and maybe own something different, beautiful and exotic from far away is for sure a driving motive.

Its real exotic and very decorative since Buddhism, sometimes Hinduism and Chineseculture are clearly evident in the pictures.

Modern Painting
Modern Burma painting

Contemporary Painting
Contemporary art Painting

Myanmar art sculptures made from brass, bronze, wooden, marble and jade statues. One of the most attractive souvenirs bringing back from Myanmar or Burma are Buddha images and Buddha statues created from various materials, among them, woodcarvings, brass items, bronze sculptures, marble creations, Jade Buddhas, silverworks, silk material and more, that is Myanmar art.

Myanmar brass art Buddha sculpture
Myanmar brass art Buddha sculpture

Burmese art bronze and brass casting
Bronze and brass casting

Typical Burmese art

among other is bronze and brass casting various items are made, there are religious images, bells, some musical instruments and of course household items. The most attractive artwork is probably done by creating brass and bronze Buddha statues and images plus silver creations for religious purposes and decorative items. The country has a substantial gold manufacturing “cottage industry” producing gold leaves to decorate Buddha statues and of course for jewelry.

A typical quarter where all this is made is around the Mahamuni temple in Mandalay. Inside small workshops craftsmen work with chisels, carving Buddhas and dancing Hindu Gods plus other fantastic figures such as dragons. The very lively and intricately detailed objects, images and figures are based on Buddhist and Hindu motifs with fixed forms and rules developed over more than thousand year of artistic tradition.

Searching for “bronzes” a general term for metal sculptures which looks like bronze since different craftsmen use different metal mixtures they are used to work with. Also brass is heavily used in various compositions, created in “lost wax technique”. The shops where the Buddhist art items are made usually are family business where one generation passes the little secrets to the next generation, lots of skills and training is needed to be creative. Bronze and brass and marble is the preferred material for them, items are made for decoration or worship in temples, pagodas and other Buddhist shrines where fruit and flower offerings are placed around the figures, marble Buddha sculpture are popular.A image is first created in wax, after dipped into clay, when the clay has hardened, the wax is melted flows out and is collected to be used again, more.

Creating brass and bronze Buddha
Creating brass and bronze Buddha art

Creating brass and bronze Buddha’s

is fine craftsmanship done since hundreds of years in the country. Since ancient time artists create this metal figures and it needs highly skilled people to handle design, metallurgy and casting. Mandalay in Myanmar is a center of arts and crafts with a high level of knowledge and quality. Bronze Buddha’s are cast from molds and the mold is created from a model of the final product. Hot molten metal is poured into the mold and after cooling the final touches with create a great work of art. At sand casting a replica of the object is created, sand and clay are fixed around to make the mold. The molten bronze is poured into the mold, cool and harden, bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. After the rough brass Buddha statue is polished and ground to become Myanmar art.

Brass Buddha Statue
Brass Buddha Statue, brass art.

Buddha Arts and Crafts

Bronze Art, casting and Buddha sculptures.

Brass Buddha Casting
Brass Buddha Art casting

Another casting method is the lost wax method, the wax sculpture is then heated, wax melts and runs out and the space is filled with molten bronze, this process produces the best sculpture since everything has fine details afterwards.Metals have been used for weapons, agricultural use and for artwork and crafts, mainly bronze, brass, silver and gold. All this has a long history when going on a war path (often to Thailand) one of the purposes was always to take captives skilled in various metalwork’s and settle them around the capital.

Blacksmithing in the country has traditionally been an highly regarded work this is also expressed in the fact that the most powerful household Nat is the Mahagiri nat a blacksmith who was killed long time ago.Mixing metals was somehow regarded as alchemy and over the centuries people tried again and again to turn lead into silver and brass into gold and the old Pyu were known for their excellent iron swords, axes, spears, arrowheads and more.

Marble Buddha Sculpture
Marble Buddha Sculpture

Mural paintingswas often used in the past inside temple and pagodas are. Famous wall paintings in the Pagodas and Temples of Bagan incentral Myanmar. Frescoes or mural paintings adorn many of Bagan’s monuments. Among other temples with the best preserved frescoes are the Patothamya, Nagayon, Abeyadana and Nanpaya. The technique to create this mural paintings is, first to smoothen

Wall Paintings
Traditional art of Bagan


Mural painting

Myanmar Buddha Mural Painting

Myanmar Buddha Mural Painting

Myanmar Buddha Mural Painting

the wall to be painted with a mixture of lime, vegetable and animal material, after it will let dry for a few days. Now the master painter draws the outline with chalk or ink, after this he will apply colors with the help of his assistants. Those colors are composed of compounds made from vegetables, animals (mainly fat) and locally available minerals.This Myanmar paintings have no perspective, instead lines of many variations are drawn and pigments with strong colors are used to create lively and expressive pictures. The gaps between the lines are filled with floral and geometric patterns or just some creative inspiration of the artist.

Myanmar Mural Painting

Myanmar Buddha Mural Painting

Rural Scene Mural Painting

Bagan Temple Interior
Bagan Temple Interior

In an Old Bagan Palace
In an Old Bagan Palace

Temple Wall Paining
Temple Wall Paining

Temple Wall Painting
Temple Wall Paining

Temple Wall Paining
Temple Wall Paining

Burmese art paintings
Burmese art paintings, Buddhist art

Buddhist paintings,

driven by a deep ethical impulse, they let the viewer have a glimpse into local artistic value and reflecting the culture. More on Buddhist art.  Figurative forms are also mainly around the Buddha theme, all kind of material like brass, bronze, marble, granite, wood etc. is used to create Buddha art, images and sculptures, they come in many styles, sizes, simple crafted or with objects attached and maybe painted with simple colors and or gold paint.

At the Bogyoke Aung San market in Yangon are plenty of galleries having all this on display including fine silver ware made from solid silver not plated stuff, see the silver art items.

Jade Art

Jade Art Carving

Jade ArtEs very special form is Jade art, its amazing what creative items are carved or rather drilled out of this extremely tough stone.

Items are created from a few centimeter in size up to around 2 meters for for a huge standing jade Buddha also this easily can reach a over hundred thousand $ price tag people are buying the items as a great decorative items and to show that they have money. Most people buying jade items ar Chinese people, more.

Oriental Art

Burma art and Oriental Art Bogyoke Market

Oriental art in general is very decorative and a true “eye catcher” in every house, different countries in Asia produce different art, such as Chinese Pop and Malaysia Batik paintings, moreVery popular is traditional art such as statues of mythical beings, paintings with a countryside theme like oxcart, bullock cart on dusty roads, sailing ships on the Ayeyarwady river and all variation of pagodas and monasteries Buddhist Painting are true art, the painting at right side is from an exhibition in the Governors Residence Hotel in Yangon. Here is true Asian art by any means with all the components and values someone expects for Asia. Buddhist art Myanmar usually has good quality and the local artists do a real good job. The quality of paintings is excellent and a real showcase of Buddhist paintings, read more

Burma art contemporary painting
Burma art contemporary painting

Myanmar art

often centers on Buddha portraits and Buddha marble sculptures in a very new fashion way, naturally there are some abstract art attempts, its difficult to say something since everyone interprets his own ideas into it. There are plenty of unique painting creations of beautiful flower composition art, maybe with some lotus flowers, orchids, native landscape and quite a lot of Chinese art painting themes.

Great Myanmar art photography, sometimes is shown in the entrance to the pagodas. The entrance walkways to temples and pagodas have lots of small shops left and right, trying to sell all kind of religious items, you easily can find pieces of beauty.

If you are in Bagan have a look at the entrance to the Ananda temple one famous Myanmar Photographer Mr. Bagan Maung Maung will show you plenty of stunning photos he made, real beautiful compositions, you wont find this elsewhere. Myanmar Artists are very creative to create beautiful items made out of solid silver and other not plated materials.A continuous demand for Buddha figures and statues is almost sure, most are donated to monasteries, temples and pagodas. Many Burma art shops selling cottage industries items producing are located near pagodas and temples.

Burma Art Silver
Burma art silver

Silver art is a long-standing tradition in creating outstanding silver items with distinctive art pattern reminds very much on antique silver. Silversmith are doing a excellent job, if one has some special request to make some silver items it can be done, for a surprisingly reasonable price, more.

Lacquer
Myanmar art lacquer

lacquer art
Myanmar art lacquer

Lacquer art

Is a very special version of artwork and handicrafts. Lacquer is perhaps the most distinctive and traditional of all and the most widely produced and used for the real worlds applied art.  Lacquer art was long a favorite of royalty for storing documents and precious jewelries. You can find beautiful lacquer art from Thailand with a little bit more artistic flavor here, more.

Little is known of how the making of lacquer art – Lackarbeiten -started in Myanmar Burma Birma, although some believe that it may have been introduced fromThe creation of lacquer items is usually in the so called “cottage industries” typical for lacquer is Bagan. Other are centered around the creation of all kind of religious objects or decorative items.

They make beautiful Myanmar art marble Buddha images, Buddha statues from alabaster, wood and sometimes granite. Common households employed lacquer art for everyday use such as keeping betel nuts and leaves or as soup bowls.

Monks use a black lacquer ware bowl known as thabeik when asking for alms. Lacquer art – Lackarbeiten – from Myanmar Burma Birma was so highly treasured that Myanmar’s kings often presented lacquer  objects as gifts to foreign emissaries.

China’s Yunnan province. What is certain is that lacquer ware is a traditional Myanmar craft that dates as far back as the 13th century.How Myanmar artwork of the past was made.

Valued for its artistic beauty and practical qualities ‘ it is light and watertight, for example ‘ lacquer ware has many applications. One can find lacquer ware ash trays, bowls, water jars, vases, salvers for temple offerings, cups, jewellery boxes based on an ancient design that double as pillows, traditional betel boxes, plates, storage chests, tables and chairs.