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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Handicrafts from Inle Lake

Handicrafts from Inle Lake in Myanmar: pictures from silver jewels, lotus silk and cigar cheroots. 

Inle Lake handicrafts: silver jewels
Inle Lake handicrafts: silver jewels from a handicraft workshop in Heya-Ywama, west of Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Like fishing and floating garden farming, handicraft is a traditional activity of the Intha, the inhabitants of Inle Lake. It takes also advantage of the touristic development of the region. Local craftsmens demonstrate an ancestral know-how. Gold and silver jewels belongs to the main handicrafts from Inle lake.

Lotus silk weaving, Inle Lake in Myanmar
Lotus silk weaving, Inle Lake in Myanmar.

Several workshops on Inle Lake weave cotton and silk. They produce, among other, longyis. Longyi is the traditional Burmese clothing, a kind of sarong. Weaving lotus flowers, more exactly fibers from lotus stems, is the local specialty. One breaks the stems of lotus flowers, then stretches and weaves its fibers. Producing a small item requires more than 4,000 lotus stems and may take 20 working days.

The local weavers produce silk items too. Silk is imported from China while lotus flowers are harvested on-site in the Lake. Shirts, scarves and other items in lotus "silk" are significantly more expensive than those in Chinese silk. They are not more resistant or finer than the latter. 

However, they are very light and wrinkle free. In hot weather conditions, they are still more comfortable to wear. In addition, since the lotus is a sacred flower, lotus garments are worn by eminent monks and, as a symbol of good luck, by other people. Robes that the images of the Buddha wear sometimes are also made from lotus flowers.

The local production of lotus fabrics remains small-scale. Products are not exported, although we heard about an Italian importer. Anyway, large-scale production on-site is impossible because there are not enough lotus flowers in the Lake. The village of Innpawkhon on the western side of Inle Lake and Kyaing Khan on the eastern side are probably the only places where lotus "silk" is woven in the world.

 Burmese cigars (cheroots) from Inle Lake in Myanmar
Handmade Burmese cigars (cheroots) from Inle Lake in Myanmar.

Like the textile workshops, the factories of cheroots around Inle Lake provide jobs mainly to women. Cheroots are cylindrical Burmese cigars with both ends clipped and different sizes. A small-scale factory of cheroots is located in Nampan on the eastern shore of Inle Lake.

Cheroots are made by rolling tha-nat leaves (leaves of Cordia myxa shrub), filling them with different ingredients, and cutting them to the required size. A filter at one end of the cigar is made from dried corn husks. Unlike classical cigars, cheroots are flavoured. The most usual aromas are anise, tamarind or honey. Cheroots are relatively mild cigars since where they contain only a small amount of tobacco mixed with other ingredients.

In the countryside of Myanmar, seeing an elderly woman smoking a home-made cheroot is not uncommon.


See also

Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Inle Lake Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda

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Handicrafts from Inle Lake in Myanmar: pictures from silver jewels, lotus silk and cigar cheroots. Comprehensive travel guide to Myanmar with 200 great pictures.