Monday, March 5, 2012

Glass Bottle Painting, the Salvador Dali of Bagan

Down at the end of what Lonely Planet calls, “Restaurant Row” in Bagan, which don’t even bother asking locals about… is a little glass bottle painting shop worth a visit.
In Nyaung U, down at the end of a little dirt road with dirt cafes like “Wonderful Tasty” … (how about Clean and Tidy people? I mean seriously, would it kill you to lay your café on a concrete slab) and down by the “Beach Bar” next to Sapada Paya…is the treasure.
Glass bottle painting is a special technique first introduced in China around the beginning of the 19th century. Any artist can paint the outside surface of a glass bottle, but painting the inside, upside down and backwards so that it appears like a canvas on the outside… is a special treat.
I stumbled upon this place and chatted up the owner and artist, a man who had been in business there over a decade, cranking out his Salvador Dali’s and Van Gogh’s… but I didn’t bother to interview him for this blog.
No, instead he seemed to busy with his work, but we did chat about his technique, which he said has been mastered over many years. This particular piece took him 12 years to finish. That’s amazing. He also said he painted with his “off” left hand, because he needed to hold the bottle strongly with his right. I thought that was pretty amazing.
So if you get a chance and are in Bagan, wander down toward the end of town across from Aye Nyein Thatar Park, down past the pubs and touristy places offering wify (don’t believe them) and check out a real cool artist. Of course, painted glass bottles go for about $20 U.S. dollars… so be wary…but have a look, you’ll stand amazed.

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