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Glass Mosaics and Gold Gilding

One of the arts to decorate wood, lacquer ware or metal in Myanmar is quite unique. Glass mosaics or gems embedded in the gilding of the ware. Articles and accessories are especially made from wood or lacquer. We have two types. One is a plain design and the other a floral design which is called ‘Thajou Pan’.

As being the first step, the lacquer is placed on a statue or lacquer ware very liberally. After that the lacquer is allowed to dry thoroughly in a naturally warm cellar. When the lacquer is dried we remove the article and polish it with stone powder.

After that, we have to coat the article again with lacquer to make it sticky to prepare it to place the mosaic on it. To put the flora design on we have to apply ‘Thajou’. Thajou means a mixture of wood-oil, sawdust, powdered charcoal and fine ash. We mix these things together to produce a fine paste and then we roll the paste into a string. This ‘Thajou’ string is then placed decoratively on to the sticky lacquer by hand or sometimes using a ready made mould. The craftsman uses this method to create:
- a floral design
- to decorate and enhance the beauty of the gems on the article he or she is preparing
- using Thajou to create miniature figurines on parts of main statue

After these three stages are complete, we have to fill the gaps between the Thajou string and the gems or statue surface with small coloured glass, mirrors or jade. These have to be intricately applied one by one to produce patterns and stunningly beautiful designs.

To be beautiful to the eye the craftsman needs to be artist to choose the right combination of colours of the gems.

After the whole decoration process is complete, another, but not the final (to be perfect we need to apply lacquer at least 5 times) a thin layer of lacquer is applied on to the surface and the article again is placed to dry in the cellar for approximately 3 to 7 days.

After drying, a final coat of lacquer and mercury sulphide is applied to make the article shiny to prepare it for gilding the gold onto the article.

How to Gild Gold

After applying lacquer on the article, again, the article is allowed to partially dry in the cellar for 3 nights. Now this is the stage where gold gilding takes place.

Pure gold leaf is separated by a protective layer of bamboo paper. The craftsman picks up a single bamboo paper, along with the gold leaf attached, and gently presses it with the finger onto the article. He or she then very carefully lifts the bamboo paper away from the article and the gold leaf, which has gilded to the lacquer, remains on the article.

For narrow, hard to get to surfaces on the article, the craftsman uses a fine brush and collects the gold from the gold leaf and pushes it into the crevices.

After finishing gold gilding the craftsman has to rub the surface of the article very gently with soft gauze to produce a shiny and smooth surface. Any gems, glass or jade mosaics that still have gold covering them are softly rubbed to remove the gold.

By this way we have a very unique art work with an amazing mosaic and gold gilding.


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