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The Myanmar National Museum (Video)
The Myanmar National Museum (Video)
The Myanmar National Museum
A museum is a repository where the heritage of ancient civilizations
are put on exhibit for the benefit of people living in the present. It
is an archive of man's past achievements.
The National Museum of Myanmar was founded in 1952 with its premises
at what was once the Jubilee Hall. In 1970 the museum was moved to a
more spacious building on Pansodan Street. But these premises were not
originally constructed to house a museum. The present National Museum
is located on Pyay Road in a splendid five-storey building constructed
for the purpose in spacious and specially landscaped grounds.
Priceless ancient artefacts, works of art and historic memorabilia are
on display in 14 halls on four storeys. Three halls on the ground
floor hold exhibits on the evolution the Myanmar script and alphabet,
the Lion Throne Room and Ratanapon Period pieces.
One can study the origins of the Myanmar alphabet, Myanmar script and
literature as well as those of the other national races of Myanmar.
There is also an interesting stone funerary urn of the period AD1 - AD
9 with Pyu writings on it in this hall.
In the throne room you will see miniature models of the eight kinds of
thrones of ancient Myanmar kings and the magnificent Royal Lion Throne
of our last monarch King Thibaw in all its original majesty. This
great throne is made of smooth-grained "Yamanay" timber adorned with
lions at its base. The whole throne is heavily gilded. This throne is
always placed in the "Hluttaw" Hall, (the Hall of the Council of
Ministers). The king uses this throne when deliberating with his
ministers on state affairs or delivering judgments on important
In the 19th century Ratanabon Period Exhibit hall one can see clothing
fashions, furniture and other household articles of the time. There is
also a palanquin used by king Thibaw's Chief monk. It has a gilded
roof with three spires.
On the first floor of the museum are four halls, one with an
impressive display of the royal regalia, a second hall with exhibits
of historic significance; the third hall with exhibits of pre-hitoric
times and the fourth containing exhibits on natural history.
In the hall of the royal regalia one can see beautifully ornamented
objects that played a significant role in important royal ceremonies
of ancient kings throughout Myanmar history. An example of the high
standard of craftsmenship is the royal betel box in the shape of a
Brahminy (Hamsa) bird. It is a beautifully gilded box embedded with
In the hall of Myanmar history are the pagodas, temples, monasteries
and ordination halls of the Bagan Period and the marvellous murals of
the Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Nyaungyan and Konbaung Eras. One can see
rare ancient votive tablets with mouldings from scenes of the Jataka
Stories, that is the Lord Buddha's birth stories.
In the hall of pre-historic times is a model of the Padalin Cave which
is over 10,000 years old where stone age men once dwelt and etched
drawings on its walls. There are also stone weapons of the Neolithic
Period and also some bronze weapons of a later age. Then, there are
clay pots, urns, votive tablets and necklaces that date back to the
Pyu Era that spans the period from the first century to the ninth
Then there are rare and priceless exhibits - silver chedis (stupas)
found in the archaeological excavations at the ancient Pyu city of
Sriksetra. They provide material evidence that Buddhism had flourished
in Myanmar as far back as the ancient Pyu Period.
In the exhibit hall on natural history are many fossils dating back
millions of years. In this hall is an exhibit that is a truly rare
find. It is fossil of an anthrapoid primate that has been dated as
being approximately 40 million years old. It was found in the Pondaung
region of Upper Myanmar.
The second floor of the museum is where exhibits on Myanmar culture
can be seen with one hall assigned to Myanmar music, song and dance.
In the hall on culture are displayed exhibits on Myanmar rural life.
One can learn much of the social, economic and cultural traditions as
well as modes of transportation of days gone by. One sees the Myanmar
bullock cart still in use in some rural areas. The utility cart is
used to transport heavy loads of paddy and other agricultural produce
whereas the cart used on ceremonial occasions is a thing of beauty
decorated with delicate wood carvings. The cart is very light and
dainty with streamlined proportions. It is used at pagoda festivals
and novitiation ceremonies when its passengers are belles of the
village dressed in their best finery.
An offering bowl for monks gilded and wrought with mosaics of
semi-precious stones is also on display. It is used for offering food
and other comestibles to monks on religious occasions.
In the hall of music, song and dance, you will see many musical
instruments and the ornate "saing waing" or drum circle as well as
marrionettes that can be made to dance in classical dramas and operas.
On the third floor of the museum are 3 exhibition halls, two for
Myanmar paintings and a third for ancient ornaments and jewellery.
In the Hall of Paintings you can observe the progress of the Myanmar
art of painting beginning with the cave paintings of the Stone Age and
down through the Bagan, Innwa, Amarapura, Konbaung and Ratanabon
periods to 20th century contemporary art. The works of famous artists
are on display.
In the third hall can be seen the personal ornaments and jewellery
worn by the Myanmar people since ancient times. Here you will see an
ornament for the ears of the 18th century A.D. It is called a
"Nadaung" in Myanmar and is a cylidrical plug which is worn by pushing
it into the pierced ear lobe. It is an ancient piece of jewellery.
On the fourth floor are halls for the Buddha Images and for the
display of the culture of the ethnic races of Myanmar.
The Buddha images include those which date back to the Pyu Period and
up to the present day.
In the Hall of ethnic culture you can see a colourful display of their
national dresses as well as various artefacts that they traditionally
The National Museum thus is a treasure chest of priceless stone
inscriptions, documents, carvings, paintings and a host of other
artefacts that testify to the ancient culture and civilization of the
Myanmar people. Anyone who has made a tour of the museum will come
away with greater knowledge and understanding of Myanmar and its
by Kyi Kyi Hla in The Myanmar Perspective Magazine Volume 9-2001
More Culture Information in
Ministry of Culture
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