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
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