Faces of Asia
D-Brief Bangkok, 26 October 2011
Dear Partners, This edition of D-Brief takes you on a journey through Myanmar, China and India to explore traditional make-up techniques. Under the popular theme, “Faces of Asia”, we give you an insight into unique traditions, such as the full facial tattoos of the Chin tribe in Myanmar to the famous Chinese “face changers” of the Sichuan province. Have you ever wondered what the yellow paste so many women in Myanmar apply to their cheeks is made of? Or have you asked yourself why the Sadhus, the holy men of India, paint colourful designs on their foreheads and bodies?
We will reveal these and more secrets in this month‟s D-Brief and hope to share with you these fascinating “Faces of Asia”. Be inspired and get fresh ideas for your customers‟ journeys to the region! Sincerely,
Your Diethelm Travel Team
Faces of Asia This month we explore different “Faces of Asia”. Asia consists of hundreds of different ethnic groups and nationalities, all with unique features. We are looking at this popular theme from a different angle - that of unique facial make-up and face masks.
In Myanmar, “thanakha” is widely used by women and girls as a natural sunscreen and moisturiser. This tradition survives despite the many modern cosmetic products available nowadays. Conversely the Chin tribe, living in the north western part of Myanmar, is slowly losing its tradition, which has been part of the tribe‟s culture for hundreds of years - full face tattoos. Come with us to India, where the Sadhus, the holy men, smear their foreheads with sandalwood paste or ash and devote themselves completely to
spiritualism. In Kerala, the colourful Kathakali dancers sport faces painted in an elaborate process to make the characters seem mysterious. Lastly, in China, the Beijing Opera is known throughout the country for its colourful facial make-up, whilst the local opera of Sichuan, the “chuanju”, is the home of the highly skilled face changing artists who leave every observer baffled. Join us on a magical journey through India, Myanmar and China to learn more about these unique traditions.
Myanmar China India
Myanmar Some traditions disappear, while others are rediscovered Myanmar is a country of many wonders and stunning landscapes where visitors seem to go back in time. While the country offers spectacular sights such as the Shwedagon Pagoda, Inle Lake and the temples of Bagan, it is almost always the Burmese people who, with their openness and warmth, fascinate travellers the most. In a country that has so far seen little access to western influences such as fashion, some traditions have been preserved and are still being practiced by a large part of the population.
Every traveller will, for example, come across women and girls with yellowish painted cheeks.
This “make-up” is a common sight in everyday Burma, whether one is travelling overland in the north or shopping in the markets of Yangon. We will look more closely at “thanakha” and examine exactly which additional benefits this natural sunscreen brings. On the other hand, some traditions, do not withstand the progress of time. An example is the Chin tribe whose women used to tattoo their faces for centuries. Nowadays, there is only one last generation of women left who show off their tattooed faces with pride. Learn more about these unique traditions over the next couple of pages and dive into a Myanmar where some old traditions are fading whilst others are being rediscovered abroad.
Thanaka: The Cosmetic Choice of Burma When arriving in Myanmar, you immediately notice smiling faces with cheeks covered in yellow paint. This golden paste is known as â€œthanakaâ€? and has been used as a traditional skin conditioner in Myanmar for centuries. Thanaka is said to be an excellent protector from the sunâ€&#x;s heat as well as a wind shield, especially for those working outside. A natural UV-A and UV-B sunblock, it smoothes the skin and unclogs pores and also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities. Because of its fragrance, the powder can also be applied as an after bath body powder. Surprisingly, despite the many modern cosmetic products available nowadays, thanaka has not lost its popularity and still remains, even today, the preferred choice of Burmese women. In 2006 thanaka was approved to be exported from Myanmar and is now used worldwide by Burmese emigrants or as scrub in spas. Who knows, with more and more demand for organic products without any added chemicals and preservatives, thanaka might even become the new cosmetic choice of the twenty-first century.
Source and Preparation
Thanaka originates from the bark of several trees which grow abundantly in Myanmar. Primarily the bark comes from the thanaka tree but also the wood apple tree can be used. Different types of thanaka trees produce varying qualities of the paste, depending on the age and origin of the tree. Thanaka trees need to be at least 35 years old before they are considered ready to produce good quality bark. The wood can be bought on local markets or in front of temples and is usually sold in small logs or bundles. Each household owns a circular stone slab called kyauk pyin, similar to a mortar, in which the bark of the tree is ground and mixed with water. The yellow liquid dries quickly when applied, leaving a powdery protective film on the skin. Every day, after taking a bath, children and women apply the thanaka cream in a light coat or thick mask, either as two smears on their cheeks or in elaborate patterns covering the whole face.
Chin Tribe: Vanishing Traditions The legend goes that because the women of the Chin tribe are among the most beautiful in Myanmar, the Burmese Kings used to choose them as their concubines. Every year the king and his entourage would pass through the hilly land of the Chin tribe, located in the far north western part of Myanmar, and take away the clansâ€&#x; beautiful teenage girls. The tribe elders, who happened to be women, decided to start tattooing the face of their girls so that they would lose their appeal to the kings and remain safely at home. What started as a protective measure intending to destroy the beauty of the Chin women, slowly turned, over the years, into a symbol of strength and beauty.
Although full facial tattoos might not look appealing to westerners; the Chin still appreciate them as a unique tradition. Unsurprisingly however, as a result of globalization, face tattoos are becoming extinct, even in the remote areas of the Chin State.
Payae: The Art of Facial Tattooing As a girl enters puberty, the village elders perform the payae or facial tattooing on her. This rite of passage is as painful as one can imagine. The girls, aged between 10 and 15 years at the time of the tattooing, had to be held down by helpers in order to tolerate the pain. The tattoos are applied with traditional instruments which include a pine needle and ink made from a plant found in the hills of the Chin State. Over time, different tribes developed tattoo patterns unique to their tribe, so that it was easy to know from which tribe a women originated, even if she was married. Thus, the face of a girl from the Dai tribe will look different than the one of a Mun girl. Nowadays, payae is no longer practiced. What used to be a necessary practice to undergo in order to be considered beautiful and be able to marry, is forbidden in todayâ€&#x;s Myanmar. The last generation of Chin women proudly wearing their payae are in their late twenties and soon this extreme tradition will only be remembered from photographs.
China China is not only world renowned for the Great Wall, its food and the Forbidden City, but also for its ancient art forms. Performing arts are, just like in most other countries, an essential part of Chinese society. Live or on television, Chinese of all age groups love to watch an opera, theatre, a puppet show or acrobatics. What distinguishes performing arts in China is that all the artists are highly skilled and have gone through years of training, since their early childhood, before they are even allowed on stage. Whether it is dance, acrobatics or music, the hard work pays off and famous performing troupes are now touring the world with huge success. So whilst actually in China, it is an ideal opportunity to experience the renowned Beijing opera or any local theatre or dance show in
order to watch the masters of the art perform. It does not matter that visitors to China do not understand what is being said, since the graceful movements and vivid costumes are what makes the shows so enjoyable.
Explore the secrets behind the celebrated face changing technique and learn what significance the different masks of Chinese opera have over the next couple of pages.
Beijing Opera The Beijing opera is, without doubt, one of Chinaâ€&#x;s great cultural treasures. With more than 1,400 works based on history, legends as well as modern themes, each performance is a unique example of Chinese traditions.
Whilst the opera combines singing, dancing, martial arts and acting, the artists are evaluated according to the technique of their movements. This is why in addition to the skills of singing and speaking, the performers receive years of training in acrobatics, dancing, pantomime and martial arts. You will notice that the Beijing opera uses only a few props, usually a table and chair, as more importance is given to the colourful and elaborate costumes. The distinctive masks (facial make-up), which form part of each costume, boast a long history dating back to 400 A.D. They were first used in a dance type called nuo, which was performed to fight off evil souls and bad spirits, and only later became part of theatrical performances.
Significance of Chinese Opera Masks Mask colours refer to different personalities and are an easy way for the audience to identify the different characters in the play. Hereâ€&#x;s a little Chinese opera 101 for your next visit to Beijing: Red is the Chineseâ€&#x;s favourite colour and stands for courage, locality and devotion. Black refers to roughness and determination. It usually indicates a fearless and bold character. Yellow represents ambition and cool-headedness. Purple usually indicates a noble character that is sophisticated and respected. Blue stands for faithfulness, intensity and cleverness. White is reserved for the dominant villain, a character with sinister and treacherous traits. Green symbolises impulsiveness, stubbornness and often indicates a violent character. Clown Painted Face is reserved for the clowns of the drama. The make-up only covers a small white patch around the characters mouth. Gold and silver masks are usually used for gods and spirits.
The Secrets of Face Changing The Sichuan opera is well known for bian lian or face changing, an ancient art which has been dazzling audiences from all over the world for centuries. It takes many years to learn the art of changing oneâ€&#x;s face in a flash and whilst many artists from uninitiated families are intrigued to learn the art, they might discover the basics of the technique, but cannot master it to perfection. The secret of face changing has been passed down from father to son for over 300 years and only around 200 families still know how to practice the art. Attending a performance when visiting China is a must-do! Skilled masters can change their face colours 10 times in around 20 seconds. Face changing shows can be experienced every evening in Beijing at the Baguobuyi Restaurant or in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, at the Shufengyayuan show. Reservations for the dinner or show can be made via Diethelm Travel China. Contact us for more information and prices.
Three Techniques of Bian Lian Even though face changing techniques are closely guarded family secrets, it is known that performers make use of three different types of bian lian: • Smearing: In this routine, the actor applies cosmetic paint on specific points of his face and “smears” it, during the performance, with a quick movement of his hand over his face. The paint is, for example, applied on the forehead if the artist wants to change the color of his whole face. • Blowing: Here, the performer works with coloured powder which is hidden on stage in a tiny box. To change the colour of his face, the actor “blows” at the powder which will puff off and stick to his face. • Pulling: This routine is the most complicated and at the same time most well known. The artist layers up to fifteen painted silk masks on his face and pulls them off in a millisecond, with a twist of his head or flick of his hand.
India India is a country of many mysteries and the countryâ€&#x;s unique spiritual traditions certainly contribute to this image. The most famous piece of facial decoration in India, known throughout the world, must be the bindi, or red dot, which married Indian woman wear on their forehead to indicate their married status. The mark is said to protect its wearer against bad luck, retains energy and helps concentration. Colours and ornaments play an important role in India and, thus, face paintings are not an uncommon sight. The Sadhus, for example, with their frail semi-naked bodies, long tightly tied hair and foreheads smeared with sandalwood paste or ash, are the subject of many photographic series.
The Kathakali dance, a well known art form of the state of Kerala, features performers with beautifully painted faces. Before every show, the artists need to get their make-up applied in a three hour long procedure! Learn more about the holy men of India and the secrets of Kathakali dance over the next couple of pages and explore the magical world of India with us.
The Enigmatic Holy Men of India A very common sight of India and Hinduism is that of a saffron-clad hermit with matted locks carrying only the minimum of possessions. Sadhu is a common name for an ascetic or a wandering monk whose sole focus is to achieve the final stage of life through meditation and contemplation. Some Sadhus lead a nomadic life travelling from one holy place to another, while others settle down in ashrams in peaceful locations to meditate for the rest of their lives. A person who wants to become a Sadhu must follow a guru for several years, acting as a servant and performing all the teacher's tasks until it is determined that the initiate is prepared to wander alone. The Sadhus bathe every morning, washing off the body art applied the previous day, and then daily reapply and paint it back. The body art is a form of identity, defining which deity the Sadhu belongs to. Sometimes the Sadhus even write on their bodies in devanagari, the Indian alphabet used to write such languages as Sanskrit and Hindi.
Sadhus: Facial Painting and its Significance Sadhus are divided into various sects, but the most followed ones are the sects of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The shaivite Sadhus are the followers of Shiva. Through myths and legends, it is known that Shiva himself followed a life of Sadhu. His body was covered with ashes which is symbolic of death and regeneration while he remained naked which signifies the non-attachment to the world. The Shaivites try to resemble their god and usually wear the three lines of the godâ€&#x;s trident drawn in ash from funeral pyres, which may be applied vertically or horizontally, on their forehead while remaining naked. The vaishnavaite Sadhus are devoted to Lord Vishnuâ€&#x;s incarnations. Vaishnavaites do not emphasize the ascetic extremes of the Shaivites. Their common identification mark is the white U drawn on the forehead, with an added line in either white or red in the centre. They normally wear white or yellow and carry beads of the tulsi (sacred basil).
The Divine Art Form: Kathakali Dance Kathakali, a nearly 300 year old classical dance form, is renowned throughout the state of Kerala. This unique art form combines aspects of ballet, opera, masquerade and the pantomime. Kathakali narrates ideas and stories from famous Indian epics and in particular recounts the stories of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna. Kathakali meaning “story-play” is one of the ancient forms of dance theatre. The dance combines the five major fine arts which are literature (Sahityam), music (Sangeetham), painting (Chitram), acting (Natyam) and dance (Nrithyam), and is thus dubbed “the king of performing arts”. It‟s easy to notice that the costumes and make-up are the most typical characteristics in Kathakali dances. Each character is immediately identifiable by their distinctive make-up and costume, making it easier for the audience to follow the play. Whilst in Kerala, do not miss the opportunity to watch a Kathakali Dance. Diethelm Travel India would be happy to arrange this fabulous experience for your clients.
Kathakali Make-Up Kathakali make-up is applied in an elaborate process lasting for over three hours. Whether it is a man's or woman's make-up, the work is only conducted by a make-up expert and helps in giving the performer a mystical look. The process to apply the make-up is tedious: Paints used in Kathakali make-up are always freshly prepared and applied on the spot. The white colour is made from rice flour, the red is made from red earth such as cinnabar, while black is made from soot. The performer lies flat on the floor while the make-up artist draws the designs and patterns on the actorâ€&#x;s face with a thin rod. Once the expert is finished, the performer gives his character the completing touches himself. The colourful designs and costumes are intended to portray each character. For example, if a characterâ€&#x;s feet are painted red, this means that the character has evil intents.
Thai Pork Larb Salad “Larb Moo” Ingredients •
1/4 cup (50g) jasmine rice
• • • • • •
1 tbs peanut oil 500g pork mince 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tbs finely grated ginger 1 long fresh red chilli, seeded, finely chopped
• • • • • • • • •
2 tbs lime juice 2 tbs fish sauce 2 tsp brown sugar 2 cups (110g) bean sprouts 4 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally 2 purple Asian shallots, thinly sliced 1 cup coriander leaves 1 cup round mint leaves Baby cos lettuce leaves, to serve
Chicken mince can be substituted for the pork mince. For a crisp herb flavour, replace the mint with Vietnamese mint and add Thai basil. Serve with lime wedges for a citrus punch. Recipe source: www.taste.com.au
Preparation Method 1. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a mortar and gently pound with a pestle until crushed. Set aside. 2. Heat oil in wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the pork and cook, stirring with a wok charn or metal spatula to break up any lumps, for 10 minutes or until pork changes colour and begins to brown. Add the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook, tossing, for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Remove from heat. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. 3. Add the bean sprouts, green onion, shallots, half the coriander and half the mint and gently toss to combine. 4. Place lettuce on serving plates. Spoon pork mixture among serving bowls. Top with remaining coriander and mint and sprinkle with rice. Serve immediately.
Monthly Festival: Diwali, India (26 Oct 2011) Deepawali or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals and is celebrated with great enthusiasm across India. The festival is truly a “Festival of Lights”, as it not only involves lighting of lamps but it is supposed to bring happiness, togetherness, spiritual enlightenment and prosperity to everyone. Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil and the glory of light. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and Lord Ganesha along with the Goddess Laksmi is worshipped on this day. It is believed that the Hindu goddess of good luck visits homes that are brightly lit. Diwali celebrations spread across five days, with each day having its‟ own significance and set of rituals. This year, the festival of Diwali will be celebrated on 26th October. Travellers also get a chance to experience Diwali at the hotel which generally celebrates it with a small prayer, lighting of lamps and burning a few fire crackers.
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This edition of D-Brief takes you on a journey through Myanmar, China and India to explore traditional make-up techniques. Under the popular...