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Making Gold Leaf in Mandalay

Myanmar is often called the "Golden Land." It's not difficult to believe after seeing numerous pagodas and statues of the Buddha covered in gold leaf throughout the country. While in Mandalay we stopped into a traditional gold leaf manufacturing shop. This shop primarily produces gold leaf that is sold to pilgrims at various temples to place onto statues of the Buddha. The process involved in making the gold leaf is long and arduous. It requires three hours of constant hammering to produce ten, 2 square inch pieces of gold leaf. The coconut timer has a small hole in it - when the water fills the coconut, it's time to change the paper stack. (see video below) Along with the ridiculous amount of labor involved to make the gold leaf, a special bamboo paper that is impervious to thousands of hammer strikes has to be made to house and separate sheets of gold leaf during the hammering process. This paper, like the gold leaf at this shop, is made in a traditional manner by hand and over the course of several days. We were extremely impressed with the dedication and hard work the people put into the creation of the final product. Note the Buddha foot we purchased...

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