Myanmar has been producing lacquerware for over four century’s. Bagan became the industry’s hub in the 20th century, and in the 1920’s the British founded a lacquerware school in the city to foster the craft.
The lacquerware shop we visited had items for sale on the lower level. The second floor had about 15 people working on various pieces that would eventually end up for sale downstairs.
The first 2 photos below are panoramas of the 2nd floor. Workers can be seen engaged in various stages of lacquerware production.
The process of making lacquerware includes weaving of bamboo (like in the photo below), molding and drying of lacquer putty, engraving, and polishing. A small bowl can take a few months to complete while a large object with elaborate designs can take up to a year to finish.
Lacquerware goes up in price based on the finer the detail and the more colors and layers of lacquer applied to the piece (15 coats is the norm for a quality item).
Erich did some serious negotiating for the goods I wanted. He was so proud of himself that he had me take a picture of him and the salesgirl.
Next up: Balloons over Bagan.