Art is part and parcel of Myanmar's daily life. Many exquisite master pieces and fine examples of handicraft can be found at markets around the country.
Yangon has a growing number of young art enthusiasts and you’ll be awed at their novel ability to create fresh paintings and art pieces. To learn about contemporary art in Burma please go to the link below - www.artasianyc.com
Ten traditional art forms
- Panbe (the art of blacksmith). These artisans temper iron in the furnace to create items such as ox cart axles, ox cart iron, tyres, scissors, hammers, adze, pickaxes, knives, hatchets, axes, digging hoe , mattocks etc...
- Panbu (the art of sculpture). Panbu meaning the person who produces figures and floral designs out of wood or ivory, these artisans are capable of making human and animal figures as well as floral designs.
- Pantain (the art of gold and silver smith). This is the art of making items of gold or silver such as drinking bowls, receptacle bowls, prize-cups, shields and belts.
- Pantin (the art of bronze casting). This is an enterprise producing materials of copper, bronze or brass. They would make triangular brass gongs, gongs, and brass bowls for monks, weights in the shape of brainy ducks, trays etc..
- Pantaut (the art of making floral designs using masonry). This is a handicraft of making decorative floral designs in relief with stucco. The artisans create the figures of lions, dragons and floral designs with stucco.
- Panyan (the art of bricklaying and masonry). This is an enterprise which constructs buildings using bricks, stones and cement. These masons build brick houses, Pagodas and bridges.
- Pantamault (the art of sculpting with stone). Stone carving in simple terms, the artisans make Buddha image poles , pillars, leo graphs, elephants, deer, circular flat stones, pestle and mortars and tables.
- Panpoot (the art of turning designs on the lathe). This is an enterprise of making wooden utensils turning on turners lathe .e.g. making shafts of umbrella, table legs, and legs of beds and turnery posts for Pavilions and railings.
- Panchi (the art of painting). This is the art of illustrating living animals and inanimate objects using different colors. The artists paint the figures of human beings, animals, objects, scenery designs and cartoons.
- Panyun (the art of making lacquer ware). This is a handicraft producing materials made of bamboo, wood and thick black varnish. e.g.; food bowls for alms, bowls for monks, and bowls of pickle tea, lacquer vessels, drinking cups, betel boxes, and cheroot boxes.
Other than these 10 fold art forms, Burmese make a daily living out of pottery, Mosaic, Tapestry, Lapidary, Gold foil, wall painting, silk weaving, bark painting and palm portrait. You will occasionally see street vendors selling such valuable items in the streets of the main cities.
- Thaing. This is the form of martial arts which were introduced into Myanmar almost 2000 years ago.
- Bando. This is the ancient art of self-defense of Myanmar.
- Banshay. Banshay is a form of martial art, focusing on weapon use.
- Lethwei. This is traditional Boxing, which is a form of kickboxing originated in Myanmar.
- Naban. This is a term for the various grappling martial arts of Myanmar.
- Bando Yoga. This is the Yoga system practiced by ancient warriors of northern Myanmar.
- Minzin. This is a system of internal exercise similar to Chinese Chi Gong.
Though traditional music in Myanmar might sound too loud, repetitive (especially when played on board long distance buses) and without harmony to many western ears, it has its own sense of melody. Burmese music is entwined with various folk and classical forms where drums, wind and string instruments are used in composition.
- Maha Gita. The complete set of Myanmar classical songs is called ‘Maha Gita’. It means great songs.
- Myanmar Orchestra. The musical collaborative called "Saing Waing” is similar to an Orchestra in western countries.
Despite its social isolation for many years, Burma has a thriving modern music scene where western styles like pop, rock, hip-hop and even reggae are admired and followed with their own upcoming young artists and music groups. To learn more about contemporary hip-hop in Myanmar please go to www.myanmarhiphopchannel.com
- Pwe. This form of traditional entertainment involves showcasing religious stories, folk tales and legends using dance movements. The dancers are adorned with heavy make-up and colorful costumes. To find more about Pwe shows please visit www.minthatheater.com
- A-nyeint. This is an evolved version of Pwe where they combine dance and music with slapstick humor. The spectators are entertained with the addition of playful insults directed at them. Foreign spectators might find the performance amusing and the humor broader than they could ever imagine which in fact makes Anyeint worth checking out.
- Moustache Brothers, based in Mandalay and Zarganar are world renowned for their Anyeint performance. They were held as political prisoners during the military regime’s rule for making fun of the regime and indirectly challenging their dictators. To get the latest on Moustache Brothers please go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20528893
- Marionette Theater. Sometimes referred to as puppet, marionette shows use puppets to relate Buddhist stories, discuss social issues etc… It is a must see for anyone visiting Yangon, Mandalay or Bagan. Myanmar puppet shows were famous from the ancient times. They performed these shows using Myanmar style figures made out of wood with movable limbs attached to strings .These figures mimicking the day to day Myanmar characters were dressed in typical Burmese clothes. There were basically 18 characters in a band made up of human, animal, demon, mythological, spirit, and some additional characters. You can still see puppet shows in the main cities of the country hosted specially for tourists. To get more information about the latest happenings in Marionette Theater please check out the following links www.htweoomyanmar.com and www.mandalaymarionettes.com/aboutmyanmarmain.html