Import controls imposed for over 20 years by the socialist government of Burma have prevented the use of sophisticated Western cosmetics among the Burmese people.
Import controls imposed for over 20 years by the socialist government of Burma have prevented the use of sophisticated Western cosmetics among the Burmese people. Instead, they have turned back to the roots of the craft and resourcefully developed a natural cosmetic called Thanakha which is manufactured from a tree found in the jungles north of the capital, Rangoon.
SYNOPSIS: The people of the Burmese capital, Rangoon, and other cities have been sheltered from products familiar to most other countries. These pretty Burmese girls probably have never sampled Western-style cosmetics. Instead the country has developed its own unique product. It is called Thanakha.
The cosmetic is sold in its natural state as blocks of wood and in tablets of dried paste. It is said to protect the skin from disease and strong sunlight as well as having a beautifying effects.
Here a woman grinds a piece of unprepared wood on a stone plate, adding water to make it into a paste. It is used not only by women as a beauty aid, but also because it is believed to keep the skin fresh and elastic.
Other prefer to buy it already made into a tablet of paste. It is then broken down with water for use. Many mothers also use it all over the bodies of their children for health reasons.
The manufacture of Thanakha is a relatively simple process. Here at the factory of Mr. U-Thong-Kheng 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of wood are processed into paste cakes every day. After a simple processed into paste cakes every day. After a simple process, the solution is dried in a bag and then removed in a cake.
Once it has been dried, manpower takes over from the simple technology of the factory. Here women cut the dried Thanakha into a variety of attractive shapes. After it is baked hard in the sun, it is ready for sale at the market.
While western cosmetics are unavailable in Burma, the market for Thanakha is assured. An estimated 80 per cent of the nations's women use it every day.