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Khaung Daing Commune, Main Centre Of Art

This small village located at the western shore of the Inlay Lake, Shan State, Burma, and its inhabitants – scarcely 100 Shan families which reside in beautiful, traditional Shan huts as well as houses comprising wood and bamboo frames, matting, bamboo and wood floors along with thatch roofs – are renowned for the production of top quality pottery/earthenware, which here as everywhere in the land is both an industry and an art. After having gone to this main pottery centre of the Shan State, viewed the potters in the office and bathed in this particular village’s atmosphere you’ll certainly look at pottery through various eyes.

Pot Tanah Liat would be that the ancestors of Khaung Daing’s potters would no doubt not recognise that many years, centuries actually millennia have passed since they passed away and would certainly have the ability to instantly join in the procedure for making pottery at any point in time and any of its development from the really beginning to the really end as nothing has improved in the traditional methods since they themselves once did this work.

The essential materials used, their sources, the methods of the preparation of theirs, the resources, the approaches of developing the pottery as well as its burning, the models, the measurements, the different types of pottery, the sorts of kilns utilized, etc., all – absolutely everything – has remained the same. With value to pottery, point in time has definitely stood still and will probably continue to do it. Pottery is often a family business and the knowledge and skills needed to perform this particular craft are handed down from version to generation; and today’s potters’ descendents are not going to change anything. But that is the future and we’ll today concern ourselves with the present and Khaung Daing’s present day pottery workshops.

Today as ever pottery or even earthenware plays a main role in Burma’s households as pottery is placed to innumerable uses: plates, bowls, cups, beakers, vases, planting containers of any size to cook, preserve as well as serve food and beverages, to make rice wine, to plant vegetation and flowers into them, as depository for funds, jewellery, orange, etc. (still normal in outlying areas), burial urns, children toys, figurines, statues, and so on therefore forth; just pottery. Appropriately, all these different types of pottery articles are made in Khaung Daing Village.

The principal supply utilized is potting clay. Either damped and kneaded clay powdered (terracotta) or perhaps previously soaked in water for an extended time and then after the drinking water is poured away stamped until pliable and smooth. Occasionally, these two different kinds of clay are combined. The clay is composed of silt and earth from the lake. The technique utilized to make smaller sized pottery including tableware is the’ wheel throwing’ technique. Let us now enjoy a potter making use of this technique at the workplace.

To generate e.g. a bowl on the potter’s wheel (set in a short mould and switched either by hand or foot by the potter himself or perhaps an assistant) a lump of clay is placed in the centre that will be pulled as well as pushed by the potter into a cylindrical shape. He then presses his thumb onto the top of the cylinder, creating a hole that he expands while pulling up the sides. Afterwards he begins to form the lip using one hand on either side of the edge of the article. After completion the potter operates a slim wire under the bottom or perhaps feet of the piece and takes away it from the controls. The earthenware is manufactured in one uninterrupted and smooth practice out of just one lump of clay.

For large jars and pots the’ coiling technique’ is applied. Big jars – for instance those called’ hundred-container’ because they’ve a holding electrical capacity of hundred’ Viss’ (157 kilogram) – are four feet/1.2 metres high, have an opening of eighteen inches/43 centimetres, a bulbous body and a narrow bottom part. Storage pots have a holding electrical capacity of up to sixty gallons.

The process to construct and form such a huge pottery article consists of four stages, the pioneer of which is the fact that the bottom or perhaps foundation of the jar is produced & semi dried. In the next level of manufacture the potter forms from a long string of clay the wall of the lower one half of the jar. The string is produced into a loop or band plus the jar is developed by superimposing the rings, which are scraped sleek at the exterior as the post builds up,’ glued’ to the bottom by wetting the sides and place to dry. The 3rd stage should be to form the upper half with the lip the exact same way in which the lower part was made. Based on the use the jar is intended for, further elements including loops at the opening/mouth are added. The fourth phase involves putting the’ half-jars’ collectively and allowing the entire thing dry out in the sun.

After being dried pottery articles are fired (also known as burned or baked). This’s usually done in kilns but when lower burning temperatures and smaller burning periods suffice – as is also the circumstances with regular terracotta pots – it’s performed by what’s called’ open fire’. The potters just cover the sun dried earthenware that’s piled in piles on a lawn with a solid layer of straw, which will then be set on fire. This kind of flame reaches a temperature of about 1.202 to 1.382 degrees F (650 to 750 degrees C).

For glazed pottery a paste is made of powdered cinder or perhaps lava from the Shan mountains, a tiny part of clay and’ thamin-yay’ (rice water which is poured out of the pot when the rice is prepared cooked and can serve as the glue or even binding agent) and slapped on the dried pottery before the burning process. The baking of glazed earthenware that is sometimes called’ middle-fire ware’ needs high temperatures of 1.650 to 2.192 degrees F/900 to 1.200 degrees C.

Some other methods of decorating pottery are painting or perhaps the stamping and/or incising of designs. Pottery can be painted before or after the burning.


As for kilns there are essentially two various kinds: those built above ground and those built under ground. Both of these’re so-called’ intermittent kilns’ because they need to be extinguished before being unloaded and recharged. By comparison,’ continuous kilns’ may be packed and energized as the fire is burning. In Khaung Daing the underground style is utilized. An underground kiln is a pit with actions to make their way in to and then leave it on one side along with a screened smoke gap on the opposite side. The above-ground kilns are made of bricks with an entrance on one side and screened smoke holes. Once the pottery is thoroughly stacked in the spaces and the kiln between the larger articles are filled with smaller pottery including children toys (play pots, figurines, etc.) the kiln is filled with firewood, and that is set alight before the entry is properly closed with bricks, earth/soil and clay. After several days of cooking – the measures of the time period is picked out in accordance with the size and quantity of pieces of pottery – the kiln is allowed to gradually cool down for a variety of times before it is opened to unload the pottery.

To watch all of the phases of the entire pottery-making process performed in traditions that are old by the Shan people of Kyaung Daing not merely is an educating but additionally an extremely interesting event that causes you to come up with a feel for earthenware and as stated previously you’ll from now on look at e.g. the plate you are consuming from, the glass you are drinking out and the bowls where your food is served with different eyes.

I am now leaving this beautiful village to return to Nyaung Shwe, when I have started my tour. I will spend the remainder of the night along with the day in Nyaung Shwe. Tomorrow morning I am going to continue my journey on land to Pindaya. I’m hoping you’ve enjoyed the visit to Kyaung Daing. I did and hope we will see again.

I’m German by birth but am living after twenty five years in Burma/Myanmar and understand the country, the folks of its, its culture and the history of its very nicely. This has made me an authority on Burma. After retiring in 2012 I switched writer and am writing books on Burma the land I am privileged to call home. Please do also see the Professional Photos of mine and the profile of mine.

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