Vol. 2


April - June 2003

Home | Contents | Message of Felicitation from H.E Brig.Gen.Thein Zaw,Minister for Hotels & Tourism
Happy New Year to Our Readers | Pinya | Braving The Rapids | Is it a Hinmyo ? | Kayin Clothing
Bogyoke Market - Yangon's Oriental Bazaar | A Wonder World: Monywa Thanboddhay
Bringing In The New Year | Tender is the Night| Events Calendar


Bogyoke Market

Yangon's Oriental Bazaar

By Brenda Davidson-Shaddox

Built in 1926, the domed clock tower tops the main entrance.

While Shwedagon is the main attraction for visitors to Yangon, Bogyoke Market (a.k.a Scott Market) is the second-most destination of choice. This popularity is understandable, considering the choices of products for sale at the market and the colorful excitement of activity taking place there.

Baskets of succulent strawberries, piles of crisp green plums and a variety of Myanmar foods form a corridor through which shoppers pass to the market entrance. Delicate stomachs may dictate discretion in eating these foods for foreign visitors. Still, the rich spices, luscious fruits and expressive vendors draw the eye and the camera lens of all who pass.

Smiling children drop strings of postcards and spread city maps for examination by potential buyers. Native and foreign shoppers alike push their way through the throng.

More exclusive shops occupy street frontage at the market, their display windows a tempting array of neatly arranged jewels, carvings, silks and other fine goods.

Once inside, all vestige of a Western mall disappear, and the full flavor of an intriguing Oriental bazaar emerges. Choices are limitless in this 29,717 square meter market. Over 2000 shops sell anything a consumer could possibly want: Shan bags, luggage, sandals, tapestries, rattan, shoehorns, light bulbs, blankets, cosmetic, herbal medicines, kyauk-pyin (circular stone used for grinding the cream-colored facial cosmetic bark known as thanakha), thanakha logs itself, religious items, books, whiskey, bamboo trinkets, pots, clothing — it's all in the market. There is even a restaurant section where one may enjoy lunch or a relaxing tea break.

Myanmar handicrafts, ranging in variety, are coveted by tourists for their quality and price. Bogyoke Market is a treasure trove for such hand-made crafts.

Jade jewelry is a perennial favorite. Discriminating buyers can find Imperial Jade, unmatched anywhere in the world, set in gold mountings. Multi-colored necklaces, bracelets and rings of a lesser quality, but still beautiful and genuine Myanmar jade, offer the less serious jade buyer wide varieties of costume jewelry. These are often priced at US$2, or less, and are small to carry home as gifts and souvenirs.

Antiques — from knives to lacquer ware — are plentiful at Bogyoke Market. Village and rural artifacts such as water buffalo bells and rustic utensils, brass weights and stone carvings, figurines and crystals give collectors a wide selection of unique choices.

Perhaps one of the best buys is the original works of Myanmar artists. Watercolors and drawings of talented local artists fill the perimeter of one of the market inner court ways. Pongyis with begging bowls and richly- colored robes, shy village girls, romantic sunsets, ancient temples, a quaint bullock cart—life in Myanmar, both modern and traditional, is depicted on the artists' canvasses. Prices are unbelievably low for original art works.

Fringed jackets of the Karen, intricately patterned Rakhine longyis, metal or silver-trimmed costumes of the Kachin—most ethnic groups in the country are represented in beautifully woven textiles that may be sewn into Western style clothing, used in home decorating or simply collected for their exquisite beauty.

Of course, modern items are readily available. If a visitor has forgotten to bring a jacket or needs a change of clothing, toiletries or other necessities, a visit to Bogyoke Market will fill the need.

Though all tourists may not be prepared for the purchase of priceless gemstones, those who are interested will find unparalleled rubies and sapphires available at the market. Myanmar rubies are renown in the world, and the quality of sapphires is unsurpassed. Bogyoke Market has numerous government-certified gem stores who will guarantee authenticity. Quality and size, of course, affects price of precious stones, so even the budget traveler may find a special purchase. Certified shops will provide certificate of purchase, needed upon departure to take gems out of the country.

Specialty shops and the products they carry are too numerous to mention. But if one needs or wants any product, most probably, it can be found at Bogyoke.

Even if one is not a shopper, the market still holds attractions. Artists lay out brightly painted pictures and muted drawings, hoping to catch a buyer's eye. Tour guides, neatly dressed in checked longyis and gray Taik Pon eingyi (traditional Myanmar jacket for men), herd international clients through the maze of shops bulging with exotic merchandise. Buddhist nuns in pink and orange robes sing chants as they pass among the stalls seeking daily alms.

Whether bargain hunting, looking for interesting photo opportunities or just satisfying curiosity, visitors to Bogyoke Market will not be disappointed.

Bogyoke (Scott) Market is located at the corner of Sule Pagoda Road and Bogyoke Aung San Street. It is open from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, daily.

Brenda Davidson-Shaddox is an American photographer/writer who visits Myanmar on a regular basis. She contributes often to Enchanting Myanmar, as well as to other Myanmar publications. Her work has been widely published internationally. The Asian Cultures Museum of Corpus Christi, TX, USA featured Davidson-Shaddox’s photography in a 4-month exhibition entitled “Myanmar Perspective” during the summer or 2002. It was the first exclusively Myanmar display of its kind to be held in an American museum.

Vol. 2


April - June 2003

PINYA : A Short Period of History PINYA : A Short Period of History Kayin Clothing