Courtesy of MyanmarBurma.com
Every nation has its own unique way of dressing, a style that people from all over the world can recognize and instantly match to the country. Myanmar is no different, here there are two widely adopted national styles, longyi and thanaka makeup.
You will see the traditional longyi worn everywhere in Myanmar (Burma). It bestows the wearer with both comfort and dignity and is hugely popular among all people in Myanmar. A longyi is a long cylindrical piece of cloth about 2 meters long, that you wrap around your waist and tie with a knot. Because they are so practical for keeping cool, longyi are popular with visitors, including men.
You can buy cotton longyi at markets or souvenir shops for less than $5. The locals are more than happy to help you with your new garment. Tying the knots can be a bit tricky at first, but once you get used to your new garment you will love it!
Tourists usually wear their longyi "villager style," folded up at the knee. "City style" is worn down to the feet.
Men tie the longyi in front at the navel and wear it with a traditional collarless shirt or a western-style shirt. Women tie the longyi on the side at the waist with a blouse, or a tailored top for a more dressed-up look.
Longyi are very versatile, as casual wear or elegant formal wear. Beautiful silk longyis are worn on special occasions.
You will see regional variations in longyi and traditional dress.
Traditionally this style of garment was called a "paso" for men, and a "htamein" for women. It is worn in other countries where it is known by other names like lungi or kaili, or perhaps the most well known, the sarong.
You will see longyi in a huge array of colors and patterns, so you will have no trouble choosing your latest favored attire for your travels in Myanmar!
Thanaka is a make-up unique to Myanmar. Used mostly by women and children, it has been praised for over 2,000 years for its benefits in keeping one cool, pretty and protected from the sun. It is also said to have useful antiseptic and anti-acne properties, and to relieve the discomfort of insect bites.
Made from grinding parts of the thanaka tree into a powder and adding water, the resulting paste is thick and almost transparent, drying to a whitish yellow, with a pleasant sandalwood scent. It can be seen worn all over the face and ears, on the arms, or just around the eyes and cheeks. You will mostly see circular patterns on cheeks, but you might also see intricate stenciled designs or dried flowers embedded in the make-up.
Thanaka Make Up Tips
The best thanaka is grown in central Myanmar.
It is cut into logs and distributed throughout Myanmar.
Most homes will have a special flat circular stone for grinding the bark into powder.
Thanaka logs from central Myanmar can make a thoughtful gift to local women.
Ready-made pastes are available for sale from markets, with a huge variety in quality and brands.
Unique, completely natural and with so many benefits, thanaka is very much cherished in Myanmar. You might like to try it out yourself during your visit to Myanmar, or simply enjoy seeing it on the beautiful smiling faces of the people you encounter.