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December 13, 2019

Nat statues selling well at Mandalay carving market

A man carves a wooden statue in Mandalay. Photo: Min Htet aung (Mandalay Sub-Printing House)
A man carves a wooden statue in Mandalay. Photo: Min Htet aung (Mandalay Sub-Printing House)

Traditional figures of Nats, spirits worshipped by some people in Myanmar, are enjoying a high demand in the Mandalay carving market, said Mandalay sculptors.
At present, the industry is faced with shortage of wood for carving and low demand in the local market. Therefore, sculptors are prioritizing small statutes portraying ancient Myanmar culture as those carvings are being purchased by tourists as souvenirs.
“Since 2017, wood carvings showing the ancient design of the Ava period have primarily been sold,” said U Naing Lin, a sculptor from Mandalay. “The Thailand market purchase 37 Nat figures and then, they resell them to international markets.
Sculptures sized 2-3 feet are mostly purchased as they are fit for transportation. Sculptures measuring 10-15 feet are rarely traded. There is demand only from hotels in the local market,” he added.
Mandalay is welcoming more tourists year over year. Once the high season starts, the Mandalay carving market teems with buyers, according to shops selling sculptures.
Myanmar sculptures are popular in China, Thailand, and Laos. Carvings, priced K10,000-100,000, depending on the quality of wood, size, and design, are selling well. — Min Htet Aung (Mandalay Sub-Printing House) (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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