Welcome back to our regular series on the Asian Accents blog, where we travel the world in search of ancient cultures, Asian art, and furniture for your interior design. This week, we're in Myanmar.
Where is Myanmar?
You might know Myanmar as Burma - the country's name up until 1989. Myanmar is a large country in south-east Asia bordered by India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos, and China. In other words, it's right at the heart of south-east Asian culture... with the art and antiquities to prove it.
Burmese art takes influences from all the great cultures around it. However, don't expect to see copies of Chinese and Indian Buddhist art. The Myanmar style is unique, and Burmese art and architecture have a rich, distinctive tradition.
What to look out for
Burmese art is dominated by painting and sculpture. But architecture also plays a major role. Look for inspiration in Burmese temple designs, including pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, and pentagonal floor plans. The pagodas of Myanmar are also famous, with their elegant layered roofs in wood or brick.
One of the most important eras in Myanmar history was the Shan period, around the 17th century BC. Shan art is noted for its sculptures of the seated Buddha, with calm faces and elegant, slender features. Most statues are in bronze, although later sculptures may use wood, lacquer, and decorations in paint or glass.
If you're interested in paintings and tapestries rather than architecture and sculpture, then look out for examples of the Jataka tales. These legends - thought to originate in India - were colorfully imitated by Burmese painters.