Home Insider Myanmar Goldsmith Enterprise

Myanmar Goldsmith Enterprise

History of Ba-Dain

Ba-Dain is an enterprise of making items of gold or silver. Silversmith is the art of making drinking bowl, receptacle bowl, prize-cup, shield, belt and wring silver. Goldsmithing is the practice of working gold and other precious metals into a wide range of objects, from goblets and other useful utensils to ceremonial and religious items, and jewelry. In Myanmar Ba-Dain is the art of making earplug, eardrops, and earring, with a screw-on back piece, finger-ring bracelet, pendent and necklace. Myanmar’s traditional artistic creation of gold and silver wares comes under the genre (Ba-Dain) art of making items in gold or silver.

Creating silverware had been with Myanmar for the past one thousand two hundred years ago, and judging from the workmanship of the silverware that belongs to those early years, it is indeed something to crow about Myanmar. According to the palace chronicles, during the reign of King Anawrahta the relics of Buddha and the three repositories of Buddhist scriptures were brought to Bagan from Suvunna Boumi, the Mon capital, along with them came Mon artisans and works of Mon arts and crafts, gold and silverware etc. Going further back into the past, we find Pyu silver works of art discovered from the mounts of old shrines of Sri Khestra.

Dependability on Ba-Dain

Among 7.5 million population of Yangon, ethnic Rakhine people mostly make gold enterprise for their living. They have been making gold enterprise for seven decades. Ba-Dain is one of Myanmar traditional arts. To have remarkable level of craftsmanship and knowledge, a master goldsmith is trained in numerous types of metalworking, including the sawing, cutting, forging, melting, casting, beating, soldering, filing, engraving, embossing, enameling and polishing of precious metals and gemstones. Not only does a goldsmith posses the ability to form metals, but he also has a deeper knowledge of the properties and working characteristics of the raw materials. These skills were passed down historically from father to son, or from master to apprentice, and at times were closely guarded secrets. During the 1950s, an apprentice had to study the craft up to 2 or 3 years under a master goldsmith to be a master craftsman. Only after such a period only, he would become a pieceworker. Goldsmiths usually value on their knowledge because it is a hard-earned skill. Now laser can produce extremely fine welds, eliminating the need for fine soldering skills. Computers also are often used to produce 3D molds for casting, and thus mass produced pieces are the norm. Since these automatic machines are widely in use, goldsmith craft is not learned as thoroughly as before.

In the past, communication skills were less developed. Nowadays, communication is swift and jewelers have become knowledgeable and fashionable. Gold buyers demand for updated new gold items. New designs spring up quite fast and so they have to study those and modify them. During the 1950s, goldsmiths only had rolling machines but now besides that; they are able to use modernized automatic machines, molding machines, etc. Cutting machines have taken the place of manual cutting. Current designs are definitely much novel than the old ones. In these days the designs are modern and goldsmiths have to keep track of these designs and create their own new ones. Although master goldsmiths have to create hard arts to shape the exquisite workmanship on the day shift as well as night shift working at the workshop, but only few goldsmiths can support their family enough. The majority of goldsmiths are struggling for their living.

Poor Political Conditions

Politics and economy are directly connected with each other. The more Myanmar economy goes down, the less Ba-Dain business works well. From time to time pieceworkers and master goldsmiths are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, especially when Myanmar suffers from economic crisis. Political and economic instability has transformed gold into the only reliable currency so people buy gold as an investment and they are willing to pay for craftsmanship. We cannot say that Myanmar goldsmith enterprise is making a lot of progress because Myanmar is a developing country with complicated and multifaceted conflicts. Now Myanmar’s economic performance is in dismal conditions. It was the regional basket case-a poor, slow grower in the middle of the most economically dynamic part of the world.

Facing an Unjust Action

When people face a slowdown in economic growth, Ba-Dain enterprise may gradually fall. Unfortunately, some owners of goldsmith shop oppress goldsmiths and pieceworkers by cutting their regular wages. Most goldsmiths do not dare complain about injustice even if goldsmith shop owners give them low charges for their services but they keep silent because they have no job choices except goldsmith work. They also have expenditure on their craftwork because they have to buy necessary tools such as super tweezers, piercing saw blades, brush wares, whip, and other accessories and so forth to mold raw gold into crafts to produce fine jewelries and craftsmanship. In some country people value Ba-Dain as works of art.

Goldsmithing Today

Despite craftsmen and pieceworkers detest oppressed wages and injustices of goldsmith shop owners; there is no leader to voice out this unfair action. Now their lips are sealed. Goldsmiths’ expectation of life is a glimmer of hope. There are two kinds of classes called employer and employee in a job. It is obvious to say that most employers want to buy employees’ better performance with low wages. Employees also want to earn their wages appropriately for a job through hard work and dogged perseverance vice versa. If employee and employer do not have a fair give-and take relationship each other, conflict may happen sooner or later. Pieceworkers and craftsmen are under the oppression of goldsmith shops without earning fair wages from their work. If pieceworkers and craftsmen have unity to cope with these unfair actions of goldsmith shops, Myanmar goldsmith enterprise may prosper well in the near future.