π 's Blog

Life in LPCUWC, Hong Kong

Cultural Heritage

Paing Thet Ko (π)
14 Aug 2018, Tuesday
Yangon, Myanmar

Dear reader,

This weekend, I was busy shopping for some cultural and traditional items for the cultural evenings at LPCUWC. All of these are Myanmar traditional items since I am from Myanmar. Luckily, I managed to buy most of the items at one downtown market. Here below are the list of items I bought and some info about them. I hope you enjoy it.

1. Zaw-Gyi

( Mythical Alchemist Puppet )

Wikipedia - Zawgyi(alchemist)



This is a traditional wooden puppet of a Myanmar mythical alchemist called Zaw Gyi. He wears a red robe and carries a long red magical wand in his hands. The legend says he dwells in the forest alone, practices magic and searches for the Philosopher's stone to gain immortality.

The puppet is controlled by holding the strings. The Zaw Gyi is one of the important characters in Myanmar traditional puppet shows. Other puppet characters include the king, the prince, the princess, the ogre, the general, the minister, the horse and the monkey. You can see the different characters of traditional puppets shown below.





2. Hsun Ok

( Myanmar Food Container )

Wikipedia - Burmese lacquerware



Hsun Ok (Pronounced ‘Soon-Oat’) is a traditional lacquerware food container in Myanmar. It is mainly used to deliver rice and curry to the monks at the monastery in the ancient times. It is made by weaving bamboo strips into shape and covering it with tree sap. Afterwards, various designs are painted on the surface.

3. Saung-Gauk

( Myanmar Harp )

Wikipedia - Saung



This is just a small model of a Myanmar harp. The harp is a very ancient instrument and it is now regarded as our national instrument. It has a horizontal body and a long curved neck, with thirteen silk strings attached.

To play the harp, the musician has to sit down and place the harp on his thighs, like a mother holding her baby. Then, the notes are played by plucking the strings. You can listen to the sound of the Myanmar harp in the following youtube video.

(Burma:Saung Harp Solo by worldmusicxx) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MpuMZ_hxS4)

4. Thanaka

( Traditional Cosmetic )

Wikipedia - Thanaka



The bark of Thanaka Tree ( Scientific name - Limonia Acidissima) has been used as a natural cosmetic in my country, Myanmar, since the ancient times.

The cosmetic is prepared by grinding the bark of Thanaka tree with water on a stone slab (shown in picture above), producing a yellowish paste. This paste is then applied on the cheeks and other parts of the body. This keeps the body cool as prevents sunburns.

If you ever had a chance to visit Myanmar, you will see people wearing Thanaka on their faces like this.





(Photo from Wikipedia)

5. Pyit-Tine-Htaung

( Self Balancing Toy )





Pyit-Tine-Htaung is a well crafted traditional toy for kids. It is made by shaping wet paper and painting on it afterwards. Therefore, it is very light and hollow inside. At the bottom, a weight (usually dry mud) is added. So, it becomes heavier at the bottom (in terms of physics, the centre of gravity is lower). It will always return to the upright position no matter how you place it on the floor.

It usually comes in pairs, one male and one female. Generally, it exists in two variations, the golden ones and the red ones (the one I bought is golden).

6. Myanmar Traditional Bag





There is nothing very special about this. This is actually an ordinary schoolbag worn by Myanmar children in the old days. Now, these are replaced by modern schoolbags in my country.

7. Chin-Lone

( Cane Ball )

Wikipedia - Chinlone



Chinlone is the national sport of Myanmar. It is a non competitive game played by players passing a Chinlone ball (handwoven ball made from cane grass strips) with their foot and knees. Similar games are also played in other South East Asian countries.

I even bought the little Chinlone keychains to use as gifts in LPC.





8. Ancient Coin





This is an innocent looking ancient Myanmar coin. However, it is special. This is the very same coin worn by Captain Jack Sparrow on his forehead in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. See for yourself below.





(Jack Sparrow's piece of eight )

With warmest regards,

π




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