Bagan Life, Myanmar: Four Aspects

by | June 21, 2019 |

The more time I spent in Myanmar, the more I wanted to learn. It helped to have a great guide in Win Kyaw Zan. He taught me about four aspects of Bagan Life.

Bagan Life: Beauty

Thanakha. The young woman in the title image is wearing it on her face. She has just made a batch and is holding a container of it. Thanakha has beneficial effects on beauty, in that it:

a. acts as a natural sunscreen

b. removes wrinkles

c. cleans toxins from the skin

d. makes the pores smaller

e. keeps you young forever

Love it! Lots and lots of people in Myanmar wear thanakha: old, young, boys, girls. Here are some girls at a Temple in Bagan:

Bagan Life

Thanakha is made from the Chinese box tree. The young woman in the title image is sitting in a trim, felled forest of box tree sticks. You can readily buy them in any market:

Bagan Life

Bagan Life: Markets

Speaking of markets, everywhere in Myanmar they are fantastic. Lively and colorful. Fruits and veggies:


Dried fish, anyone?

I’ve already forgotten what’s in the baskets, below, but I like their sculptural qualities and fleshy textures:

Color, as I’ve said. Lots and lots of color.

Want to stop for lunch?

Much to love in this image: in the foreground the women at the lunch counter wearing thanakha, in the middle the female monk in her pink robe, and up above the signage with the Burmese alphabet next to the dresses hanging from the rafters.

Bagan Life: The Village

Bagan, with its 4444 pagodas and temples and Buddha images, is tourist town. It has kept local arts and crafts alive.

I like lacquerware and so was happy to visit a family enterprise of long-standing duration:

Everyone has a job to do:

And now for their treasure trove:

Sealed off and climate controlled

I bought bowls and bangles and will give them to friends in Romania. I will keep for myself a pretty little bowl:

The houses in town are spacious and well kept:

The kitchen is always separate:

The yards are big:

Everyone has a Braham bull

And the streets are wide:

Bagan Life: The Ayeyarwady River

Bagan has enjoyed centuries of civilization, sprawling along on the east side of an impressive river.

Ayeyar means ‘big’ and wady means ‘river.’ In case you’re thinking the name lacks imagination, I’ll mention that Mississippi means ‘big river’ in the Algonquin language Ojibwa < misi ‘great’ + ziibi ‘river.’ In some versions of the Burman word, the name comes out as Irrawaddy.

One of the treats is a sunset spin on the river. Here is Win to the side of our boat:

And here I am, looking ridiculously happy with myself, as I fancy puffing on a cheroot:

Win looks more respectable:

I’ll leave you with this:


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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