Traditional glass mosaic art faces extinction

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Glass mosaic artists create art work at the Pagoda on Mandalay Hill. Photo : Aung Phyo Kyaw

With so few people wishing to learn to create glass mosaic art, glass mosaic artists are going to face extinction, said U Win Tint, the proprietor of Sein Shwe Group, a glass mosaic business.
“Glass mosaic art businesses are rare these days because only modern materials are used to decorate monasteries. Also, skilled laborers are scarce. Most glass mosaic works, which take artists a long time to create, have already disappeared from the people’s minds. The glass mosaic art is combined with four types of arts, including the art of painting, the art of bricklaying and masonry, the art of making floral designs using masonry and the art of making lacquerware. People don’t really know the value of mosaics and, thus, this art is going to become extinct,” he added.
In 1991, there were over 400 glass mosaic artists in Mandalay region. Currently, there are only 20 glass artists remaining to create glass mosaic patterns. The glass mosaic structure is a traditional Myanmar art involving assembling pieces of glass to embellish decorative art, structures and furniture.
“Now, there are only a few people of the younger generation who want to learn glass mosaic art. We cannot share our art through books. We can only teach them in person, and they need to practice it by making the art works by themselves,” he added. Glass mosaic is typically used to decorate the walls and ceilings of pagodas, as well as to embellish furniture and accessories. Glass mosaic is often studded with gems and semi-precious stones.—Aung Phyo Kyaw (Translated by Hay Mar)

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