Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laquerware Treat

A visit to Bagan isn't complete without visiting a laquerware shop. At first, I thought it wouldn't be that exciting, because I'm not that into laquerware.  It was exciting. And it was fascinating, too.

We have some beautiful photos of the laquerware-making process; but the husband is off traveling a lot and he's the one with the beautiful camera and the beautiful photos. He has a couple shots from Bagan on his website and blog here. There's a woman etching and a guy washing off a layer of paint from the laquerware at The Golden Cuckoo shop.

They're stunning photos (I'm not saying that just because I'm married to him, promise!) and hopefully he either gives me some more to put up on my blog, or he adds some more himself, because I want to write a proper post on how the laquerware is made.

In the meantime, what I will tell you is that all the dyes and paints are natural. There are rocks and minerals found both on the mountains and around the sea which contain the red, yellow, and green colors. The rocks are broken and smashed to make a powder. I was told that women use the red stone as lipstick and blush and sometimes the green as eyeshadow! Eventually, the powder is made into paint by adding water.

Everything is hand made. The laquer is made from sap of a certain type of tree. (Alright, sorry that I don't know the name of the tree...)  They can paint it around soft or hard bamboo as well as teak wood. Even horse hair! The whole process is amazing.

The shop at Golden Cuckoo is a family run/operated business passed down for four generations, using the same methods. They place 14 layers of laquer on these babies. Between each layer of laquer, it dries for two weeks. IMAGINE!

In fact, they've been working on a beautiful dresser for SEVEN YEARS. It is now done and will be shipped to a woman in Milan. That gives you an idea of the workmanship that goes into laquerware. It's truly incredible.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself because I really want to do this post with photos, showing you the entire process. It will be much more interesting that way.

We purchased tea cups and the tray from Golden Cuckoo. We didn't think we'd be able to get it in our bags, so they kindly shipped it back to Yangon for us.

Can you tell I like the folks at Golden Cuckoo?


  1. Cool.. thanks for sharing this Becky.. look forward to the full post


  2. VERY AWESOME!!! I love it!

  3. Hi Becky,

    I am eager to get my mum a set of laquerware on my visits there. Is it just sold in Bagan or i can get it in Yangon as well? Those cups looks gorgeous by the way:)

    1. HI Caroline,
      You're in luck! Laquerware is also sold in Yangon. In fact, you can buy it many places in Myanmar. Many people go to the Myanmar Laquerware Shop (or maybe it's called the Yangon Laquerware Shop) somewhere downtown. I will try to find the address. Also lots of people buy at Scott's Market. If you *do* go to Bagan, though, I would go to the Golden Cuckoo. It's amazing and the quality is outstanding.

    2. Fantastic. I wasn't really thinking it was a good idea traveling with laquerware in a backpack:)Considering just been inform by my fiance it will take 2 days journey by bus to Bagan...Getting in the plane is maybe a brilliant idea but the downside of it is we will be missing most the scenery along the road.

    3. That's would miss the scenery. I think you can take a train, too, though! I'm not sure.

      Yes, and even Golden Cuckoo will ship your items (very cheaply) back to Yangon for you. They did that for us and it was really great!

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