Bagan, the craftsmen • Myanmar

Get inspired by a lacquerware workshop in Bagan in Myanmar.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Myanmar • Burma (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Myanmar. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

The text below may be useful to better understand what is happening in this video.

00:35 • lacquer art

04:12 • corn cigar art


Bagan, the former capital of the empire that bore its name, is certainly one of Myanmar's most famous cities beyond its borders. Rangoon (now Yangon) remains the economic capital of the country, even though the military has built a new city to house the exercise of power, Naypyidaw. Mandalay remains the spiritual capital of this great Buddhist country, but Bagan is undoubtedly the high point in archeology.

However, there will be no question of architecture and old stones in this film. For this important aspect of Bagan, see the film Bagan, the gods.


Te subject here will above all  be craftsmanship. Bagan may be one of Myanmar's major archaeological sites, but the fact remains that it is home to outstanding contemporary artisans. Shouldn't we rather speak of artists ...? Considering the working conditions of these magicians of their 10 fingers, it would probably be more appropriate to speak of craftsmanship.


The artisans of Bagan are masters in the art of lacquer. This art of Chinese origin is brilliantly practiced in the workshops of Bagan. Lacquer is produced on the basis of resin, mixed with ash and sometimes dyes. This resin is strongly adhesive and exhibits a remarkable gloss. It is used to decorate trays, vases, bowls, boxes or even small pieces of furniture. Formerly, it was omnipresent in the pagodas.

Corn cigars

If the objects made in lacquer are of great beauty and invite tourists to open their purses to acquire one of these works of art, it is not quite the same for corn cigars. .


about the place, Bagan:

The city of Bagan in Burma (Myanmar) is listed as a Unesco Heritage Site. Its name means "the city which tramples its enemies". The city's origins date back to the 9th century. It was the capital of the Pagan Empire. During the 250 years of the city's heyday, thousands of religious buildings were built. A thousand stupas, ten times more small temples and around 3000 monasteries were created in these blessed times for the inhabitants of the region. We are talking about a period from 1044 to 1287.

Many of these buildings were destroyed during wars or by earthquakes but there are enough left to amaze the most demanding tourists.


Spoken comments in the film: 

The ancient art of lacquer

In Myanmar, artisans have taken the art of lacquerware to its peak. How can you imagine that this pretty little shiny black bowl with its drawings required so much time and meticulous work.

Lacquer is a resin produced by shrubs. To make a lacquer object, you can use various supports. Whether it is wood, woven bamboo strips and horsehair, eggshells, the possibilities are endless.

The secret lies (apart from the extraordinary know-how of the artists) in patience and time. Multiple coats of lacquer are necessary and drying time essential between each coat.

When the object has become sufficiently solid, the artists proceed to their decoration.

It's so exciting to follow.


There are also Burmese cigars ... But if no one in the world is able to compete with lacquer artists, not sure that this also applies to the manufacture of cigars ...

And what about the art of rolling in peanuts ...




 - YouTube video library - Air to the throne

 - YouTube video library - Big Top


• Disclaimer: As traditional music is often subject to copyright (claimed by major music distribution groups), the musical illustration of this film "Bagan, the craftsmen • Myanmar (EN)" does not use typical music of Myanmar but is borrowed from a collection of royalty-free music. Despite the painstaking care given to the musical choices in this film, some people may regret this choice, but it is the price to pay for not incurring unnecessary lawsuits. This decision was difficult to take, but it's the only viable solution, unfortunately. •

Bagan Myanmar lacquer art
lacquer utensils, Bagan • Myanmar
lacquer utensils
decoration of a lacquer chair, Bagan • Myanmar
decoration of a lacquer chair
making lacquer bowls, Bagan • Myanmar
making lacquer bowls
decoration of lacquer objects, Bagan • Myanmar
decoration of lacquer objects

Bagan, Myanmar

Cookies user preferences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Google Analytics v4
Google Analytics
Set of techniques which have for object the commercial strategy and in particular the market study.
DoubleClick/Google Marketing