When you make a trip to Myanmar, you learn that Burmese culture is deeply influenced by Buddhism. In addition, neighboring countries such as India, China and Thailand played an important role in shaping the culture of Myanmar. More recently, Britain’s colonial domination and Westernization have also affected many cultural aspects of the country of golden temples.
Exceptional Beauty of Burmese Culture
Typical cultural values of Myanmar
A part of the Burmese culture beauty is the language of Myanmar. Burmese is the official language in this country. It is not only the main language of the people of Myanmar, but also of the Rakhine. Burmese can be divided into two categories: the official one used in writing and official events such as political speeches, and the conventional one used in daily conversations. The writing of the Burmese is based on that of the Mon.
The literature of Myanmar is strongly influenced by Buddhism. Because Buddhism forbids fictitious stories, Burmese literature speaks of real stories. However, British colonization has brought many kinds of fiction that are still popular today. Poetry is also a very interesting feature and there are many unique genres of literature in this country.
Diversified Culture of Myanmar
The period of British colonial domination left some Western influence in architecture in Myanmar. If you make a trip to Myanmar, you will see characteristic traces that have persisted in the big cities.
Many ethnic minorities, including the Karen in the southeast and the Kachin, the Chin in the north and northwest practice Christianity through missionaries.
In the traditional Burmese culture, folk music and folk dance are treasures of tremendous values to the people of this country.
Traditional Myanmar music is very special with a set of traditional musical instruments that consists of drums, gongs, bamboo bells, and wind instruments, including the HNE which gives a very high sound, flutes, and cymbals.
The large drum kit has twenty units while the small one has only 9 drums. Sometimes, instead of the gong, a quadrangular gong, consisting of a set of gongs suspended on a rectangular frame, is added and a few round gongs are also added.
Music also plays an indispensable role in the cultural beauty of Myanmar. In traditional music, the Saung-gauk is a unique musical instrument of Myanmar. The Saung-gauk has a boat-shaped and often accompanies old songs. In order to play this unique instrument, musicians must practice for at least 10 years. Therefore, the number of musicians who can use this instrument successfully is very limited in Myanmar, as it requires a considerable investment in training.
In addition, Myanmar has other impressive traditional instruments such as the Sidaw (large drum) used for special occasions, the OZI (drum in the shape of a pitcher) and the Dobat (tambourine) used in village festivals, the Bonshay (long drum) and the bongyi (drum) used in harvest festivals.
Burmese culture strongly influenced by Buddhism
The drums of Myanmar can change tone. People stick a handful of sticky rice mixed with ash in the bottom of the drum to change the sound. And there are still many other unique instruments like the puttalar – a xylophone made of bamboo or wood.
The Chin have a trumpet resembling the OBOA, called Bühne. It is a ball equipped with certain tubes of bamboo or reed. The Mon gongs are hung on a horseshoe mount. The Karen’s flute is composed of bamboo tubes of different lengths, attached in the form of a triangle.
A Myanmar trip will make you impressed by not only folk music but also the traditional dances of Burma. Indeed, Burmese dances are very special and are also a part of the unique culture of Myanmar. Burmese dance has existed since the time of Buddhism, when worship was always accompanied by dances. The dances of Myanmar are very lively and require artists to perform difficult movements.
The dances of Myanmar are very elegant with sophisticated costumes. Dancers never touch each other. Beginners in dance will be taught Kabyalut – a traditional dance of Myanmar.
There is a very interesting dance in which dancers make movements like puppets. This is why it is said that Burmese dance is an imitation of puppet theatre – a theatrical genre that puppets can replace real dancers. The female dancers wear royal clothes: jacket with long and wide sleeves and a longyi. The male dancers are dressed in silk longyi, jacket and white scarf with scattered pieces of fabric protruding like a leaf. Other dancer roles include the soldiers, Zawgyi (shaman) and Nat.
Yein is the famous dance of the annual Myanmar Water Festival whose dancers, often women, wear the same costumes and perform the same movements. Hnaparthwa is a dance of a duet of two women or a man and a woman. Elephant Festivals are held in mountainous areas with the team of dancers in the effigies of cardboard elephants.
Burmese culture strongly influenced by Buddhism.
The popular Anyein dances are simple dances combined with the Lupyetxen clown that makes the audience laugh, taunting current events or other subjects, including profane ones. Sometimes two or more dancers perform with swords or small and big drums. Ethnic dances are usually danced in groups in which men and women dance together.
There is also another fairly impressive feature that is a part of the Burmese culture. Myanmar is the country where people are the biggest consumers of betel in the world. During your tours in Myanmar, you will see the old, young, big, small, men, women – everyone is eating betel everywhere. There are red traces of betel juice on all sidewalks and streets.
In Myanmar, people are used to applying a white powder to their face. This magic powder, called Thanakha, is considered the most important product of beauty care by the entire Burmese population. This natural product helps protect their skin against the sun.
Finally, the longyi, a traditional costume of Myanmar is the most popularly worn and indispensable to the cultural beauty of the country. This skirt, which resembles sarong, combined with a shirt, is the outfit of both men and women in Burma. They wear a longyi with flip-flops or sandals. Men and women only wear shoes when they dress in Western fashion.
A Myanmar travel is a perfect opportunity to discover the exceptional beauty of the land of Golden Temples. Buddhism, which is the dominant religion, has an important role not only in the Burmese culture but also in everyday life. It’s certainly that Myanmar has everything to please you.