Myanmar handicrafts market downsizes despite century-old surviving

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The photo depicts colourful Myanmar traditional handicraft dolls in the market.

The market for traditional Myanmar handicraft dolls made of paper, such as owl dolls, roly-poly boy dolls, elephant dolls, and horse dolls, is currently shrinking. The doll-making industry survives in a small market in some parts of Upper Myanmar, as mentioned by U Aung Min, an artist specializing in paper dolls from Kannadaw Village in Sagaing Township.
He stated, “Very few people in villages near Sagaing Ngahtetgyi Pagoda, including Nyaunggon, Kannadaw, and Gonnyinhtaung villages, are still engaged in the traditional paper doll business. Many years ago, almost all village households crafted paper dolls and supplied them to shops in pagodas nationwide. However, nowadays, we don’t receive as many purchase orders as before. We get some orders during pagoda festivals in Mandalay, Sagaing, and Magway, and foreigners usually buy them as souvenirs. The doll industry faced its most challenging period during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the orders for paper dolls are increasing slightly now, productivity remains low due to the limited number of makers in this business.”
In general, the sales turnover of paper dolls, including owls, roly-poly boys, elephants, horses, etc., is typically high during seasonal festivals, pagoda festivals, and donation ceremonies like Kathina robe offerings in the Myanmar months of Tabodwe, Tabaung, and Tagu. However, sales usually decline in the months of Nadaw and Pyatho.
For more than a century, Nyaunggon Village, Kannadaw Village, and Gonnyinhtaung Village, located near Sagaing Ngahtetgyi Pagoda, have been crafting these Myanmar traditional handicraft paper dolls. — ASH/TMT

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