The Splendor of Myanmar Traditional Arts
Myanmar traditional arts are mostly inspired by the cosmology and Buddhist and Hindu influences.
There are 10 Myanmar traditional arts, called myo pan sè: metalwork, wood carving, silversmith, stucco, masonry, stone carving, wood turning, paint, lacquer and bronze. In addition to these traditional arts, Burmese have developed very fine talent for weaving silk, pottery, tapestry, jewelry and manufacturing of gold leaf.
These Myanmar traditional arts- also known as “Myanmar ten flowers’ were used for the construction of magnificent Buddhist sites known worldwide. Thus, temples are built of brick and stucco and stupas are covered with gold leaf. The monasteries were once made of wood, now they are renovated with modern methods.
In Burmese art, there are different representations of Buddha. According to local influences, it may have more or less realistic traits.
There are three specific types of dance : dance drama, folk dancing and nats (revered spirits). It drew its influences from neighboring countries but developed certain points like angular movements, being quick and energetic, and more emphasis to the poses (more than for movements).
The most typical dances are dances of women dressed in long robes with chains. Chains are hung to their heels, which is complicated enough without tangling feet given the length of chains.
Burmese folk music differs from other musical styles of South-East Asia by its rhythm, melody timbre and texture. They use traditional percussion with special stamps and a typical type of harp called the saung-gauk.
Nowadays pop music has made its way to Burma and occupies most of the radios and dominates the market. The Burmese also have many pop bands.
For traditional Burmese music, it has been popularized by the orchestra Hsaing Waing beginning to be known in the West thanks to percussionist Kyaw Kyaw Naing.
A collection of classic songs can also be found in the Magahita compilation, often dealing with Burmese and Pali legends, religion, kings, love, nature, etc …
The original Burmese literature derives its influences in Buddhism and Jataka (previous lives of the Buddha stories). Some members of the royal court lent themselves to the game of writing epics and lyric poems. Burma’s poetry has its own rules of composition and versification.
The influence of the British Empire brought about the novel and short story which was hitherto unknown. This sector is developing quite rapidly and themes are comparable to western novels.
Many Burmese writers also translate Western novels, an activity facilitated by the Government’s refusal to sign the Universal Convention on Copyright requiring publishers to pay royalties to authors during translation and publication.
The remained popular poetry is written in an ancient Burmese. In the 1920s, some writers embarked on a change in writing movement and selected the current language to write.
Some Burmese writers have achieved international fame as the journalist Kyaw Ma Ma Lay with the novels The Mal-Aimée (1955) and Blood (1973), Khin Myo Chit the author of Diamond 13 Carats (1955), the journalist Ludu U Hla who has written many books on ethnic minorities, novels on prisoners at the time of U Nu and other biographies. Some politicians have also written policy-themed novels while Prime Minister U Nu also wrote plays.
The news gradually mounted in popularity. Being published mainly in magazines, they are less subject to censorship. They deal with everyday life and also include political messages criticizing the capitalist system.