Myanmar has a centuries-old tradition in goldsmithing. In particular, the goldbeaters are known to make the very thin gold platelets with heavy labor, which are then stuck on Buddha statues in the temple. With a heavy, huge hammer the gold is beaten again and again by the muscular men until they are gossamer leaflets. In the end, they get from 40 grams of the precious metal about 3,000 platelets. These will then be glued e.g. to the holiest Buddha of the country, the Mahamuni Buddha in the Mahamuni Pagoda. In Mandalay, there is a whole street dedicated to goldbeating.
However, gold jewelry is often produced by hand under conditions that are unacceptable to Western understanding. Another problem: Burma today is more about money than crafts. As a result, the market is flooded with cheap jewelry imitation designs from nearby China and India. Handmade filigree work and native motifs have been almost impossible to find in recent years. But if you keep your eyes open, you can accidentally stumble into one of those small workshops that are often in nondescript, dilapidated houses.
Here every step is done by hand with the simplest means. It’s hot and stuffy, the men sit side by side, each at his own table, each working on another piece of jewelry or preparing the gold for further processing.