The Myanmar Times - - Wedding 2016 -

ODAY, it’s there for all to see, ad­mire and even crave. It was once shrouded in mys­tery, the talk be­ing that it was what the roy­als of the past wore – a shawl of gold.

When worn, it is a sight to be­hold, def­i­nitely so to those in Myan­mar who al­ready pos­sess one. The golden shawl, or scarf, was recre­ated by Aung Thamadi gold shop, which is now fa­mous be­cause of it. The shawl is one of the most pop­u­lar items among gold en­thu­si­asts.

Aung Thamadi’s Phyu Phyu Aung said they only be­gan to think of de­sign­ing one when a cus­tomer wanted to wear one to a do­na­tion cer­e­mony. And they had no idea how to do it.

“We had heard that gold shawls were used by [women] in dy­nas­ties past, but no one made them any more,” said Phyu Phyu Aung. So they started from scratch in 2009. There was no sam­ple on which to base the project. What they knew was it would take a lot of time and money. They be­gan by hir­ing a pro­fes­sional gold­smith for more than the mar­ket rate at the time, more in hope than any­thing else.

“Hopes of suc­cess were al­most nil,” said Phyu Phyu Aung, adding how­ever that Aung Thamadi nev­er­the­less be­lieved that if the project was suc­cess­ful, buy­ers would “ap­pre­ci­ate the creativ­ity and skill that turned the gold into a fab­ric-like ma­te­rial that could be worn”.

They also be­lieved in them­selves. To their ad­van­tage, Aung Thamadi al­ready had a rep­u­ta­tion for in­no­va­tion in their trade and for pleas­ing cus­tomers. In the end, it was an in­stant hit.

“The gold shawl was de­signed with the cus­tomer’s sat­is­fac­tion in mind. The re­sult was fan­tas­tic and it got a lot of at­ten­tion. Peo­ple be­came more fas­ci­nated with it when it was ad­ver­tised and the Aung Thamadi brand be­came as­so­ci­ated with the gold shawl. It was so suc­cess­ful that peo­ple started ex­chang­ing gold bul­lion for gold shawls,” Phyu Phyu Aung said.

The first shawl re­quired about 80 ticals (1306 grams) of gold, but now cus­tomers can have one made start­ing from 25 ticals (408g) as sev­eral de­signs are avail­able.

“Gold shawls are now pro­duced in unique de­signs ac­cord­ing to mod­ern times. We now have shoul­der­length gold shawls, length­ier ones that hang down from both sides of the shoul­der, or tri­an­gu­lar ones that we have de­signed ac­cord­ing to cus­tomer pref­er­ence. One good point of the gold shawl is that its whole mass does not rest on one spot on the shoul­ders. In­stead, it spreads its weight around and bal­ances it­self. It is com­fort­able to wear and can be kept folded,” Phyu Phyu Aung said.

What should be even more in­ter­est­ing to would-be buy­ers is that the hand­made shawls don’t lose value over time. In any case, hardly any­one is in­ter­ested in sell­ing once they have one.

A shoul­der-length piece would re­quire 25-30 ticals (408-490g) of gold, a length­ier one 35-50 ticals (572 -816g), and a tri­an­gu­lar one 30-40 ticals (490-653g). Or­ders must be made one to two weeks be­fore the re­quired de­liv­ery date.

Women buy the shawls mostly to wear to do­na­tion cer­e­monies and to wed­dings too, though not by the brides. Th­ese days they have greater choice be­cause Aung Thamadi now also has Ital­ian-de­signed white gold shawls which sell for be­tween K30 and K40 mil­lion.

To Phyu Phyu Aung, flaunt­ing that golden pos­ses­sion is not the rea­son why one should have one. “You need the right oc­ca­sion to wear it. Shawls were part of the royal wardrobe of queens in the past be­cause they were sup­posed to be vir­tu­ous.”

Some of the women of today might not pay much at­ten­tion to those sen­ti­ments but it’s very likely many would agree with Phyu Phyu Aung’s fi­nal words on it: “You will not want to sell it, once you buy one.”

Trans­la­tion by San Layy

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