Reveal the traditional beauty secret of Burmese women – Thanaka

Burmese women with their beautiful face adorned by a type of powder is one of things to see in Myanmar that extremely impress travelers. That is a kind of unique “cosmetic” – Thanaka of Myanmar women which derived from traditional custom of powdering Thanaka on face as a very original characteristics of the country. Indochina travel

Thanaka in Burmese means cosmetic beauty or just means clean. This word stem from ancient times in the villages of Myanmar.

Thanaka was primarily made from wood of a tree called Thanaka which proliferates in northern Myanmar. People consider it as a specialty of this country. The process to make Thanaka powder is quite simple and unchanged throughout the centuries. Firstly, roots and bark are separated; soaked in water; grinded on a flat stone. The end product is a yellow cream, slightly fragrant applying as powder face. A special feature is that Thanaka can keep its fragrant for long time even in conditions of tropical climate.


Thanaka tree
Thanaka tree

In Myanmar, making up by Thanaka has become a long tradition in the history of this country. In period of Myanmar’s monarchy, Thanaka shows off social status of women as high – class persons. The bright and light brown Thanaka with yellow tiny particles of dust dotted is the rarest and most beautiful among all kind of Thanaka. The princess in the palace often used this kind of Thanaka to makeup. The ordinary classes usually use Thanaka mixed with yellow pollen of flowers Gant Gaw. A flower has very seductive scent that still are used today. Myanmar tours


Beautiful face painted with Thanaka
Beautiful face painted with Thanaka

Thanaka also appeared in religious ceremonies. Each morning, at Mahamuni Buddha Temple, the most sacred temple in Mandalay, often takes place cleansing ritual to Buddha with towels soaked Thanaka. The ceremony always draw attention of crowds of people. After cleansing rituals end, people will present such towels to those attending as blessing memorabilia. At another ceremony held at Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State, in the New Year’s Eve, the young girl begin to grind the bark of Thanaka to make a smooth cream; while the boy are dancing and playing musical instruments. When Thanaka process finished, everyone rushes to the nearby pagoda to celebrate the Buddhist cleansing ritual.

Today, Thanaka is not just a traditional but the Burmese women also use it as a cosmetic beauty. It is for sun protection, makeup, and makinf the skin fresh. Many Burmese women while traveling or going far also carry Thanaka with a small stone mortar to use.


Thanakha is a favorite comestic of Myanmar women
Thanaka is a favorite cosmestic of Myanmar women

According to the researchers, powder face with Thanaka exists in some places, but mainly in the special traditional festivals to attract tourists. Therefore, the Thanaka customs that burmese women still maintain and use extensively in modern times is a remarkable phenomenon, reflecting strong vitality of traditional cultures in this country.

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