Burmese Textiles

Burma is home to over 60 ethnic groups, each having a style of dress so distinctive that it looks like a uniform to outsiders. Within a group, differences in patterns, materials, design, and quality separate individuals, clans, and classes. Rough terrain and civil unrest have isolated many parts of Burma and to some extent helped to preserve many unique traditions from pressure to assimilate with mainstream Burman or international culture.

Burmese Textiles


Religious practice in Burma is relatively strict and textile patterns rarely contain the anthropomorphic symbols of dragons, spirits, elephants etc… found on fabrics from Laos and Northeastern Thailand. Basically all the ethnic groups in Burma use geometric designs named based on their appearance (i.e. flower, wave, python skin, etc…) At one time some designs used by animist tribal people may have had a protective meaning, but these meanings were lost during the colonial period when many animist people converted to Christianity (one Haka Chin man spoke to me at length of his gratitude to the missionaries who “introduced his people to culture and civilization.”) Since Burma gained independence more minority people have been adopting Buddhism.


Locally grown cotton is the primary material in most Burmese textiles. As strict Buddhists, Burmese traditionally believed that silk production violated the Buddha’s basic admonition against taking life because the silkworms were killed when the cocoons were immersed in boiling water. Silk used in ceremonial costumes was imported from China; Burmese apparently didn’t mind if Chinese accumulated the negative karma from killing the worms. In recent years polyester and other synthetics have become very popular. Imported polyester costs more than local cotton, but it provides brighter colors, an esteemed shininess, superior durability, and holds color without bleeding. A few minority peoples use basic natural dyes such as indigo (blue/black) and lac (red) but general use of natural dyes ended with the British conquest.

Exceptional silk “luntaya acheik”Burman Textiles

The name Burman is used for the majority group in Burma to distinguish them from Burmese, meaning any resident of Burma. The most complex and famous Burman textiles are the “luntaya acheik” sarongs originally reserved for the exclusive use of the royal family. The complex tapestry weave technique is best understood by examining the reverse side of the material. A separate shuttle is used for each colored band; “luntaya acheik” is literally translated as “hundred-shuttle wave.” While these fabrics can be extremely expensive, they remain very popular for ceremonial occasions such as weddings. Local fashion is constantly evolving and one may be surprised to find that the cost of a particular design or color combination has suddenly tripled because it was worn by a famous Burman movie actress!


A wide variety of simpler traditional designs of everyday fabrics like sarongs and blankets are still in common use. Many designs are now machine-loomed.

Karen sarong with ikat patternsKaren (also known as Kayin) Textiles

Karen people live in the hilly areas along the Thai/Burmese border. Their traditional hand-woven cotton textiles emphasizing red colors are exceptionally durable. Karen women’s’ sarongs often include ikat (tie-dyed) sections in “python-skin” sections. Women’s’ tunics include bright patterns highlighted by embroidered designs in brilliant synthetic thread and Jacob’s tear seeds from a local grass.

Karen Sarong

Fine silk Haka Chin wrapChin (also known as Zo) Textiles

Burma’s Western Hills along the border with Bangladesh are one of the poorest parts of Burma, but Chin people produce some textiles of exceptional sophistication, quality, and refinement. Ceremonial sarongs and blankets/wraps are embellished with fine geometric patterns created by placement of supplementary warp threads (extra threads embroidered into the material during the weaving.)

Haka Chin Wrap

Finely woven cotton and wool Kachin sarongKachin Textiles

Kachin people live in Northern Burma in the foothills of the Himalayan range. Women’s sarongs/wraps receive needed warmth from goat’s wool, the only traditional use of wool in Southeast Asian textiles. The material emphasizing rich red colors reminds many people of Himalayan textiles, but the intricate supplementary weft Kachin designs of hooks, flowers etc… are closely linked to Southeast Asian style (resembling patterns on ancient Dong San drums from Vietnam).

Kachin Wrap

Naga cotton shawl with clan patterningNaga Textiles

Naga people live in northwestern part of Burma along the Indian border. Famous for their old spiritual practice of headhunting, most Naga people have converted to Christianity. Naga ceremonial textiles feature red and black bands combined with woven or embroidered protective symbols that vary from clan to clan.

Naga Shawl


Genuine antique Burmese textiles are very rare due to the limited original supply, the destructive tropical climate, and a traditional belief that old items carried misfortunes from the past. I’ve looked for old Burman textiles and most of the available items are not very old and are in very poor condition. In 2001 I saw for the first time new Burma textiles being made in old style patterns and being offered as “antiques.” One should always remember that it’s easy to fake the age, but you can’t fake the quality.

Willow Tree Figurines

Willow Tree Figurines

Willow Tree figurines are the perfect gift for someone who is suffering in some way. These figurines are hand sculpted and are designed to comfort and heal by bringing out emotions with each and every figurine. One of the Willow Tree figurines is called Generations and features a mother and father looking down on a baby. Although it is in the style of the Holy Family, this Willow Tree figurine also invokes memories of your own family. Willow Tree figurines are also perfect gifts for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and births.

For the student or teacher, what would be a better gift than a Willow Tree figurine featuring a person reading a book. Entitled “Love of Learning”, it brings the message of open books – open minds to the recipient. Other Willow Tree figurines include Birthday Girl, Hope, Friendship, Hero and Two Alike. The Promise figurine from Willow Tree features a man and woman dancing, as in the first dance at a wedding. This particular figurine is 9 inches high, but most of the figurines are only half that at 4.5 inches in height.

When you log onto the Willow Tree website to shop for Willow Tree figurines, you can shop by occasion, season, brand or new items added to the catalog. The selection of figurines that Willow Tree offers is quite large and the prices are reasonable. The idea behind the Willow Tree products is that the figurine is intended to communicate beyond words. It is supposed to be personal and allows the recipient to decide what the meaning behind the figurine is.

Willow Tree Angel

Willow Tree has been in business for 40 years. It is part of the Catholic Supply Inc. of St. Louis. It is owned and operated by a Catholic family that serves many parishes in and around the area. Willow Tree figurines are one of the brand names of products offered by this company. In addition to buying a Willow Tree figurine, you can also purchase angels, keepsake boxes, nativity scenes, ornaments and plaques.

Willow Tree figurines hope to bring a message of peace and hope to all who buy and receive them. They enrich the recipient with warm and sympathetic thoughts. The love of people is embodied into each and every Willow Tree figurine with the hand sculpting. Willow Tree figurines are meant to enhance the décor of any room in the home and make ideal gifts at any time of the year.

Experiencing Javanese Culture make sure you have good travel insurance

take out travel insurance to get the most from your holiday

Find the best travel insurance for your trip

Balekambang Beach

What is the best way to experience Javanese Culture first hand

Whilst Java does not boast the amazing white sandy beaches that you find in say Bali, the Javanese Island is rich in culture and boast the most amazing Buddhist Temples, miles of paddy fields and a steaming volcano.

Not to mention a chance to see the most amazing selection of arts and crafts, that you will find any where in the world.

Of course being along way from home and a tropical destination, there are increased risks of catching malaria, tyhpoid and you should definately make sure you have good travel insurance. Resist the temptation to go on holiday without proper cover.

Every year hundreds of people do so and end up regretting doing so. In the worst cases, they end up having to pay out thousands of pounds to get themselves repatriated because they have fallen ill on holiday.

Going on holiday without holiday insurance really is not worth the risk. It does not cost much to buy cover. The right insurance could potentially save you a lot of money as well as a lot of hassle should you experience a problem whilst on holiday.

travel insurance

Preparing to Shop Around for Cover

Before buying your travel insurance take the time to familiarise yourself with the types of cover that are available. Doing so will ensure that you buy the right policy for you and where you are travelling.

Holiday and travel insurance policies vary considerably and offer drastically different levels of cover. Buying the right policy for you is very important. There is no point in taking out a policy that does not cover you for injuries sustained whilst skiing if you are going on a skiing holiday. Some policies do not cover people with certain medical conditions. You have to check exclusions as well as what is included to be sure that you have the cover you need.

Who to Buy From

You must buy your policy from a well-established and reputable insurance company. In an emergency, you need to know the firm is still going to be in business and there to take your call and help you when you need it. Remember you may need that help at any time of the day or night, so you need to look for a firm that offers 24/7 support.

If a firm does not explain in detail what is covered, do not buy from them. You should be able to read the policy before signing up. Good quality travel insurance does not cost a lot, but it is still worth getting quotes from several companies before settling on a policy.

Javanese Culture

Javanese Culture

This culture is part of Indonesian culture that is associated with a certain ethnic group in Indonesia referred to as Javanese. It is dominant in East Java, Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces of Indonesia. Due to migration, the culture can also be traced in other parts of the globe such as Suriname, Malaysia, Netherlands, Cape Malay and other parts of the world. The culture has a very remarkable influence in all aspects Indonesian politics, a phenomenon that has come to be described as Javanization.

Javanese prides in one of the most ancient literatures to be surviving up to date in Indonesia. Translation of the Hindu Mahabharata and Ramayana dates far back to the 9th century. One notable cultural work is the Tantu Pagelaran which explains the volcanic nature and origin of the Java Island.

Spiritual wise, Javanese followed a form of Hinduism, Kebatian and Buddhism. This was facilitated by the Majapahit Empire which tolerated varying religious beliefs. The empire held that though they were different, they were of the same kind since there is no duality in the truth. Christianity and Islam were later introduced and spread in Java during the 15th Century. However, after the empire fell in the 16th century, Islam spread faster due to the favorable conditions facilitated by the Islamic monarchs who took over the empire.

Javanese had a variety of ceremonies that were rooted in the Kebatian beliefs. Those who held other beliefs just modified these ceremonies to incorporate Hindu, Islam or Christian prayers. Some of the ceremonies included the Grebeg Maulud and Javanese weddings. The Grebeg Maulud was a ceremony designed to celebrate the birth of Muhammad, the Islam’s holy messenger. Weddings took a variety of versions depending on the social status and customs of the couple involved. Some of the popular versions include Paes Kesatrian, Paes Ageng, Jogjakarta and Surakarta. Other rituals that you could also find include Naloni Miton which was held during the first pregnancy of a lady and Khitan which involved circumcision.


The social structure of the Javanese consisted of the family unit that adopted bilateral kinship system. The male and female descendants had equal importance in the society. Women had a high level of independence and were greatly respected. The families were then organized into villages headed by the village chief known as Lurah.The village chief was assisted by the village secretary and an officer for social affairs. The Priyayi were part of the ruling aristocrats but have little relevance today. The sultans were central in the social events and culture of the Javanese. Monarchs are still revered today even though they are no longer ruling.

Their most important economic activity is farming. They contribute up to 55% of the output of rice in the whole of Indonesia. Apart from rice, Javanese also engage in cassava farming especially in areas will less fertile soils. Blacksmith is also an important economic activity with cultural and farming equipments being produced. Other economic activities include wood carving and Batik making.Javanese Culture

Most Javanese have a single name and mostly start with Su- which means good. Their cuisine places more emphasis on rice since it is the staple food. A meal is not complete for a Javanese if it does not contain rice.

Asian Crafts

Java Is Home to Many Of the World’s Greatest Arts and Crafts

As one of the most prominent parts of all of Indonesia, Java is an amazing space that is home to some fascinating bits of culture. This place is home to some interesting artisans and craftsmen that are capable of making some of the most unique arts items in the world.

Asian CraftsThese pieces of Asian crafts have originated in Java over the years and include some fascinating items. They are all parts of the extensive tradition of the area and are important to culture in the area as it moves along and evolves with the times.

Batik is Key

Java BatikBatik is by far the most important aspect of crafts in Java. This is where a cloth is etched with dots and lines to create a consistent pattern around the entire fabric. The cloth is also adjusted with a design where a cloth is soaked in a liquid in a color. This is to create a wax that resists dyes. It can be found in all sorts of colors.

This is typically designed for cloth materials. A Batik cap may be interesting as well. This art piece is made with cap stamps that mix wax patterns onto a space and works with metal strips that are soldered in one place. This creates a fine work of art that is very interesting to have in any part of the home.

The Wayang Puppet Craft Is Alive

Wayang puppet performances are popular in Java and today many people in that area can make their own puppets. A wayang puppet is made with leather and may have a wooden base in some cases. A stick will go on the puppet’s hands. Wayang PuppetsThis is a popular form of crafts among children in Java but it is something that takes a long time for anyone to master as some puppets are extremely intricate in terms of their designs.

Rattan Is Heavily Used

The rattan fabric is used in many baskets, purses and pieces of furniture. It is a part of handicrafts that comes from naturally-growing trees and is particularly popular for being thick. This has been utilized quite a bit by many artisans in Indonesia as the rattan wood is easy to grow; it grows much faster than many other forms of wood, thus making it a better product for the environment in general.

RattanThis does not mean that bamboo gets the short shrift in Indonesia. This amazingly renewable wood is still used throughout the country as something that is designed with a fine look that adds more to whatever one might be interested in displaying.

What About Ceramics?

Ceramic materials are also made by many people in Indonesia. Lombok terra-cotta pottery is famous for being made with an intricate attention to symmetrical or shaped patterns in all spots around the ceramics. These are traditionally made with darker colors for the most part but some lighter styles may also be found on some models.

The arts and crafts of Java are a big part of what makes this part of Indonesia so fascinating. These items are designed with some unique features made to truly impress those who come across these unique products.

Asian Sculptures

Indonesia is the world’s fourth populous and largest Islamic country whose population is 86% Muslim. The nation is separated by seas and clustered in islands such as Java which inhabit approximate 60% of the country’s population. Ethnically, Indonesia is highly diverse with different cultures and over 580 languages and dialects. The Indonesians are artistic by nature and expresses their artistic nature through canvas, stones, clay, metals and woods. The Batik ProcessThe batik process of dyeing and waxing first originated in Java island centuries ago. However, the classic art designs of different tools have been modified through modern trends in both technology and pattern.

Indonesia is exposed to a number of cultural influences which have resulted to a huge diversity of decorative objects that are crafted as offerings to the gods or to sanctify and embellish ordinary life. In Indonesia, there are world-renowned textiles metalwork in the shape of folk bronzes or jewelry, ceramics ranging from terracotta modeling to cooking pots, wood carvings, masks and puppets, crafts related drama among others. Asian sculptures

Indonesia crafts have various designs, patterns and styles that have been inherited from different ancestors who are thought to have various cultural backgrounds. Traditional values of different tribes in Indonesia are reflected in the form, color and typical crafts which display various meaning related to region of origin. One of the Indonesia true national riches is the rich cultural heritage of handicrafts and art. Indonesia art forms include designing Asian sculptures that date back to early ancestral worship, animistic beliefs, Chinese or Islamic symbols and Hindu or Buddhist influenced motifs.


Indonesia arts forms are rich in symbolism. The symbol of fertility from Sumba, the mythical Naga or dragon,Naga the mythological beast of Garuda, the tree of life and the Mamuli pendant all have special meaning in Indonesian beliefs, myths and tradition. The war between evil and good, nature and heaven and ancient stories of warfare and love have special meaning in Indonesia culture. Plants, geometric forms and animals also hold a special meaning in particular art forms.

Crafted ceramics items range from plates to common vessels and are passed from generation to generation. In addition, Indonesian artisans are also using shells to create a wide variety of jewelry, wind chimes and useful items. One of the richest art form in Indonesia is the desire for ornament by many. Most of the crafted ornaments in Indonesia are rich in design and symbols. Throughout the Indonesian archipelago, traditional skills of wooden carving have become prominent. Some of the most wood carvings found in this country include Papua, Sumatra, Madura, Central Java and Bali.

Batik Finishing

Different wood carvings crafted in Indonesia have different styles and designs that are based on a particular province and subject matters. Tribes such as Komoro, Dani and Asmat have distinctive wood carving styles of utensils, figures, weapons and totem poles. Apart from wooden carvings, artisans in Indonesia also craft depicting figures from Indonesian epics and myths using volcanic rocks. Volcanic rock statues are also found in Bali and Yogyakarta.

Indonesia is rich in handicrafts. Additional crafting found in this country include woodcarvings for ornamentation and furniture, filigree from Bali and South Sulawesi with different styles of wooden sculptures, sandstone and clay, silverwork and engraving Sumatra and Yogyakarta. These are some of the very few handcrafts found in Indonesia.