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by Orient-Express
The Governor’s Residence, Yangon, Myanmar

Crafts

Handicrafts are Myanmar’s biggest shopping attraction. Lacquerware, hand-woven textiles, embroidery, woodcarving and silverwork are all good value. Gems and jade are also tempting, but you need to be an expert to be sure of what you are buying.

Myanmar’s traditional markets are not only the best shopping venues but also ideal places in which to browse and absorb the atmosphere of a typical Oriental bazaar, where you will find everything from hardware to handicrafts.

The place to head for in Yangon is Bogyoke Aung San Market, once known as Scott Market. This long stretch of covered market in Bogyoke Aung San Street, between Sule Pagoda Road and Shwedagon Pagoda Road, has everything for the buyer and browser alike. Other treasure hoards lurk among the stalls that line the covered stairways leading up to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
 
Lacquerware is one of the most characteristic of all Burmese handicrafts. The lacquer is made by mixing the sap of the thitsi tree with ash, the fineness of which determines the quality. 

The resulting paste is applied to the surface of objects usually made of woven bamboo, sometimes of wood, although in the past the finest pieces of lacquerware were made of horsehair. 

Bowls, trays, betel-nut containers and small decorative boxes are some of the most common items, tables and screens among the larger pieces. To make one multicoloured item can take up to six months and involves a dozen or more stages of production. 

Today lacquerware is produced in Northern Thailand and Laos as well as Myanmar, but the best workmanship is found in the villages around Bagan.
 

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