December 17, 2016

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Traditional hand-made lanterns facing extinction

Myanmar’s handmade lanterns are facing extinction due to flooding the lanterns market with cheap foreign goods. Photo: Tin Win Lay (Kyimyindine)
Myanmar’s handmade lanterns are facing extinction due to flooding the lanterns market with cheap foreign goods. Photo: Tin Win Lay (Kyimyindine)

As the lanterns market is flooded with cheap foreign products, Myanmar traditional hand-made lanterns face difficulty standing in the market during the season of lights festivals.
Decreasing orders from customers for the Myanmar’s traditional lanterns made of bamboo  and colourful sheets of paper with candle light have shown that the country’s handmade culture of lanterns is facing extinction.  Bawga Ward in Kyimyindine Township was famous for production of hand-made lanterns with different designs about 50 years ago.
“Our lantern dolls were very popular among children,” said U Phyu Lay, a lantern maker of the ward. Booming market of hand-made lanterns created job opportunities for nearly all residents in the ward about 50 years ago.
They got jobs and were busy four months ahead of the season of lights festivals which started at the end of the four-month long Buddhist Lent.
He still remembers high order placed by customers across the country when they were very creative in making dolls lanterns with wheels for pushing as carts, which attracted children.
One month before the open season in the past, the market for lanterns in Bawga Ward was crowded with the people. Now, all lantern makers in the ward have noticed that the demand for the products is spirally downward as cheap electronic lightens and decorative lights are flowing into Myanmar.
“Now I am making lanterns for orders placed by companies connected with foreigners,” said U Phyu Lay while making lanterns at his home.
“The seasonal lantern market along Lower Kyimyindine Road is already extinct. Just one or two shops still exit there to bring back our memories of booming time to us,’ the 55-year old lantern maker said.—Tin Win Lay (Kyimyindine)

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