As I was in Winner Guest House, I have decided to visit this shop. I have found it a very interesting place to learn, from the beginning, the art of traditional lacquerware. Besides the bamboo, this factory also uses horse hair.
What to buy: There are many interesting things we can be. I bought a box.
When I was visiting Nyaung U Market, I stopped here just to have a look. At the end, I liked very much the traditional cotton shirts and I bought three of them.
The owner, a very kind woman, likes to chat with the clients.
The shirts are of good quality, but some inks can be a problem when you wash them. Avoid the blue one.
What to buy: Traditional cotton shirts.
What to pay: One traditional shirts costs you between 3.000 and 4.000 Ks.
Many times while walking through the local market in the main street in Bagan I used to stop and watch the woodcarvers with great interest while they turned a block of plain wood into a work of art..The items were well made and very inexpensive.I was amazed how they just worked on the ground...The friendliness of the woodcarvers was evident even if you didn't purchase the item..This is really worth the time to stop and watch..so many items wonderfully made out of the local bamboo...
The colourful dizzling local market of Nyaung U really is worth a stop. Down the mainroad on the right side you can find everything from fresh fish, chicken feet, vegetables, handicrafts and the bagan t-shirt you were desperately looking for ;-)
You name it, they got it!
What to buy: everything you didnt know that you would desperately need!
Lacquerware is one of the traditional crafts of Myanmar, dating back to the 11th Century. Most of the good lacquerware in Myanmar is made in Bagan. So, if you are visiting Bagan, its the perfect opportunity to buy the good quality ware at the best prices.
When you visit temples, and various other tourist frequented places, there is plenty of lacquerware on offer. However, most of these items are basically poor quality "fakes" or representations, which look reasonably attractive, but lack the intricacy of patterning, colouring and overall design, and are not made by the true painstaking methodology. It can take up to 5 months from start to finish, to complete a high quality, multi coloured object.
There are many steps to making a good quality piece of lacquerware. Firstly, the basic object is made of bamboo, or a frame is made and either horse or donkey hair (!) is wound around the frame. Flexibility is an important feature of some piece of lacquerware - and the pieces made from hair are completely flexible, without cracking or breaking - amazing things.
The lacquering process then begins - lacquer - sand - lacquer - sand etc. with up to 7 coats for the better quality items.
The artistic work is the next part of the process, where intricate engraving and painting is done. This process is slower for multi coloured pieces, as each colour is completed, cleaned and polished, before the next colour engraving and painting is done. Its easy to see how the process can take several months. You will notice that the cheaper pieces bought at most of the temples are simply painted, usually in bright colours, rather than the richer, more traditional shades on the good pieces.
Another popular custom is to apply gold leaf to the lacquerware.
What to buy: Lacquerware is made into an array of both practical and decorative items. The octagonal folding tables and folding screens are very traditional items, and beautiful. Trays, platters, bowls, cups, boxes etc......
There was a dizzying range of items, designs etc. to choose from. I was overwhelmed choosing, and, ultimately, so was my husband, when it came time to negotiate the end cost!
As you can see from the final photograph, this was done with humour and good nature. I *think* we did good!!
I came home with heaps!
What to pay: Whatever you agree to pay!
A typical local craft is sand painting. On a canvas is a fine layer of sand (still don't know how they manage to keep it stuck on canvas) where different motives are painted. Some artists take their inspiration from temple paintings, monks or Buddha.
You'll find them outside almost every temple in Bagan so it wise to shop around and bargain. Keep though in mind that these souvenirs cannot be fount in Yangon's Bogyoke market, so if you love them...just buy them on spot
Shwe War Thein Handicrafts Shop Antique shop which has lots of old lacquerware (similar to what my parents brought out of Burma), various wooden ornaments, puppets and old gems, beads and assorted old jewellery.
What to buy: Brother bought a carved stone jar US$20, husband a wooden Chinthe US$10 and I bought two bronze wind chimes (with each one engraved with a symbol representing a birth day) US$15
This shop is definately a shop that sells quality lacquer ware- you can tell straightaway when you feel the thickness of the products being made here. The owner of this family business will show you the various steps that are taken (18 in his best quality products) and his two showrooms- the front one for his less quality ware and an airconditioned room out the back which has some magnificent pieces(see photo).
What to buy: We bought two "jewellery" boxes for US$55 each
some table mats US$5
some cups (see photo) US$4
miscellaneous items for US$2-3
What to buy: Most travel guides will say that Bagan is famous for its lacquerware. True indeed. However i personally find the paintings selling outside the temples are more attractive. There are two types: one in acrylic paint, and the other in sand. The other in sand is more expensive and it is also newer way of painting in Bagan. Shop around before buying, cos quality varies for different vendors.
There were plenty of nice crafts and clothes near the pagodas. Make sure to bargain. But remember only bargain on something when you're going to buy it. It's rude to get them to lower their price and then say no.