Mother and Pearl

Mother-Of-pearl Mosaic Painting

Paintings are designed in accord with Myanmar traditional way of life, Buddha stories and famous sceneries. Mother of Pearl, gems and variety of oyster shell in different colours are used for certain places to set a picture. Colourful germs and jades of various sizes are glued on the pattern. The significant thing about this painting is that in designing and decorating the picture, all the works are done only by hand. Most people know only that pictures are sketched with pencil or painted with brush in watercolour or oil.

How a picture of mother of pearl mosaic is created?

The answer is, Myeik Archipelago in Southern Myanmar abound with variety of oysters, including pearl oysters. Shells are various colour and sizes. The largest shell of an oyster is about 9 inches.

To shape and design these shells, first to saw shells off a piece according to the size desired, and then it is  scraped off by a sharp knife and sand paper to get original colors. Some shell give green and some give brown, black and white. Mother of pearl has five colour layers. the first layer is green, second layer is brown, third layer is light brown, fourth layer is white and fifth and final layer is shiny rainbow colours.

Shells are covered in moss and slime make gray and dull in sea water. Therefore, oyster shells need to be cleaned to bring out the gloss and sheen. The instrument used in this process is  a small, mechanized wheel to which sand paper has been attached. After repeated rubbings the last layer of original shiny rainbow colours slowly emerge.

Depend on design and colours to be used in painting that mother of pearl will be seen in its natural colour of green and brown in some painting that you may not notice it.

Thus, the characteristics of mother of pearl painting are;

1 – All colours seen in a picture are natural colour of shells and no artificial colour was used.
2 – The designer need great creative eye and imaginary feeling within limited colours.
3 – All process is done by hands, need skill and time.

Creating an inlaid mosaic picture of mother-of-pearl. One has first to draw an outline sketch on a piece of velvet. The mother-of-pearl and other shells are then cut and fashioned according to the pattern, colour and figure to be glued onto the velvet piece. But it is not simple task of gluing together the pieces. Each piece has to be carefully laid in the appropriate place so that its hues will not clash, and the one needs an artistic eye. Moreover, the right size of shell has to be selected from the very beginning. The sparkle colours of the shell are natural. After the colourful mother-of-pearl has been laid then semi-precious and low-grade gems are arranged around the shell figures to enhance their beauty.

When the picture has been completed it is first aired and dried before putting the picture in a glass frame. Now you have an artistic picture that is very similar to a painting, but is actually a mosaic of inlaid mother-of-pearl and colored stones. All in all, it needs a creative imagination, an artistic eye and skill to produce such a picture. These oyster shells with their hidden beauty were once unseen under the waves of the seas. But the innovative spirit of man has been able to create a thing of beauty. This special art of inlaid mother-of-pearl picture first appeared on the Myanmar market about ten years ago.

Now they have begun to draw the attention of buyers from far and near. These purely hand-made paintings can now be seen in foreign markets and we can be proud of them because these are the creation of Myanmar artists.


Fine Arts Handicraft Gallery

Click Here - Items for sales

1. Paintings made of mother-of-pearl & gems.
2. Teak sculpture of various figures.
3. Utensils made of mother-of-pearl.
4. Other Myanmar traditional handicrafts.
No. 202, Shwegabar housing, Mindama Road ,
Mayangone Township, YANGON, MYANMAR.
TEL: ++95 9 5102071 (Mr. Ko Cho), 01++95 1 656597
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MT & K Tourism Company Limited

Building (15/B), Room (202), Shwe Kabar Housing, MinDhama Road, 3 Quarter, Mayangone Township, Yangon, Myanmar.

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+95 9 795514475 (Ms. Thazin)
Tel-Fax :
+95 1 666220
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+95 1 656597 , 9669526
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