Pottery Villages in Myanmar Reviving Traditional Production Techniques

Pottery has a long tradition in Myanmar (officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and also known as Burma) bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. In the Myanmar terrain people began using pots that were easily and cheaply produced. Pots were not only used to store or to cook food but also as burial urns that held gold and jewelry inside them. The remains of some old pots used during the Pyu civilizations were discovered, providing evidence that pottery had been used since then [5th Ccentury]. Shards were also found in Bagan and Mrauk-U regions.

Currently, Myanmar’s main pottery production centres are situated in Kyauk Myaung (Shwe Bo Township, Sagaing Division), Twante (Yangoon Division), Pyinmana (Mandalay Division), Bago (Bago Division), Mine Kine and Mauk Mei (Southern Shan State). Some townships such as Twantay and Kyauk Myaung, among others, are also important ceramic production centers. Each of these villages has their own specific production techniques. Earthenware and glazed [ceramics] are still in common use in Myanmar-Burmese households. The most used forms are cooking pots, flowerpots, drinking water pots and storage pots. Storage pots are mostly glazed and used to store water, oil, fishpaste, salt and various pickled food.

During a trip to Myanmar in January 2015 I visited three traditional pottery villages that are reviving traditional production techniques; Twantay, Kyauk Taing and Sagaing.

The potters in Kyauk Taing village mostly use glazes containing lead, for which they have two sources; Baw Saing mines near Heho and old battery materials.