The Various Facets of Myanmar

facet

Those who love trivia will like this book written by Dr. Tin Maung Kyi. Published in 2012, it is a collection of 33 stories, profiles and myths about Myanmar, all of which were published in a magazine as a regular column. Books like this deepen one’s knowledge about the culture, enable the reader to familiarize with the people and understand the context of the place.

The stories reflect the long and colourful history of Myanmar people and one would be tempted to ask for more. There were stories about nats, background on the Standing Buddha and description of crocodile and elephant bridges that can still be found in Mandalay. There were also myths about the Khin Lay, a lady with history and mystery; Tilat, the Myanmar version of Lupin III; the heroic Nyo U who fought against the British; and Rakka, a mysterious race of black people. Vanishing traditional crafts were the subject of several articles. One example is Go-nyin, the decorative carvings placed in carts. Another is the Myanmar puppets where the author traced an original puppet is a museum in Bavaria.

The cover page article amused me. It was about the Curtis & Co., a pharmaceutical store with its trade symbol, a mortar and pestle. Looking closely, the shape of the mortar resembled that of the upper body of a woman. Locals then bastardized the name Curtis into the word curtit (pronounced as kuh-tee), which also refer to the sensual form of a woman. The symbol survived the ravages of World War II and it is still there in Mandalay for all to see. To some it has become a historical landmark.

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