Myanmar eyes Unesco listing for ancient beauty regime

Street vendor San San Oo, a long-time thanaka user, buys the fresh paste from the market and smears it on her cheeks with a brush.
Street vendor San San Oo, a long-time thanaka user, buys the fresh paste from the market and smears it on her cheeks with a brush.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Tubs of thanaka paste made by Shwe Pyi Nann, a firm which controls the majority of Myanmar's thanaka market, sold at a Yangon market. Market vendor Hla Hla Kyi sells thanaka stumps at Yangon's Pazundaung market. Traditionally, thanaka is prepared by
Tubs of thanaka paste made by Shwe Pyi Nann, a firm which controls the majority of Myanmar's thanaka market, sold at a Yangon market. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Govt hopes to protect link between its people and paste made from bark of indigenous tree

Business is brisk at Mr Aye Saung's souvenir shop in downtown Yangon's Bogyoke Aung San market, where candy-coloured tubs of thanaka paste - made from the bark of an indigenous tree - compete for the attention of passing tourists.

Asked to name his best-selling brand, he picks out one with a minimalist white packaging bearing the etching of a tree.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 12, 2020, with the headline 'Myanmar eyes Unesco listing for ancient beauty regime'. Print Edition | Subscribe