Bagan: Ancient Capital of Myanmar


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Hairstyles of Bagan

If the people of Bagan were so lavish in embellishing their religious buildings for the sake of gaining spiritual merit in life hereafter, they were no less extravagrant in ornamenting themselves for the sake of gaining additional beauty in the present life. It is almost an axiom that women of all times all ages and all nationalities, being of the fairer gender, have the feminine desire for beauty and elegance, and the women of Bagan were no exception. There are pictorial, literary and inscriptional evidence to show that in addition to dress, jewellery and facial make-up, Bagan women had a flair for hairstyle. There is mention of a particular coiffeur named "Myeik-lut-su" worn by teenage girls of those days found in one of the three oldest poems of the time. The poem was composed by an unknown poet describing the tragic story of a mighty blacksmith and his younger sister.

A detailed and complete list of hairstyles of Bagan women was recorded by a lady bard named Yaway Shin Htwe who served as a Lady-in-waiting in the Court of King Maha Dhamma Yaza (A.D.1584-1459). She composed about the 55 coiffeurs of Bagan in a new verse form "Un Chin".

The names of the 55 coiffeurs enumerated in the Un Chin are as follows:
" Myeik Hpyu
" Myeik So
" Thwe Nyo Myeik Lut
" Yit Pat Su
" Yaw Yee
" Tu Mei Shwe Yaung
" Tein Taung Tet Thit
" Hlyat Sit Pyat
" Hnin Thwe Ma So
" Kya Nyo Wit San
" Du Win Hnaing She
" U Pyi Shun Pyaw
" Zin Yaw Tant Wei
" Pale Ko Lone
" Gamon Ngon Ar
" Ley Tha Wei Le
" Mgu Chee Matin
" Ya Gin
" Kha Yu Chaung
" Hton Kyaung
" Hton Kya
" Nga Pa Myeik So
" Aung Myo Nameik
" Karaweik Hnot Thi
" Hseik Thamee
" Pan Pyee Hse Htwe
" Ney Ayone Khan
" Nyint Yan Thauk Shu
" Tein U Naga
" Ley Pa Ya Thi
" Hnaing Pyee San Lut
" Naga Pat Kyaw Kwin
" Nantwin Myitzu
" Htwet Pyu Mokwa
" Padoma Theikdi
" Mani Kopa
" Chaya Pwint They
" Yon Yey La Wei
" Ney Lei U Daung
" Thon Chaung Chu Shet
" Sa Hwet Yaung Chaw
" Thibaw Tagun
" 43. Ananta Hpu Sha, Mawra Giwa
" Hintha Sa Hkunt
" Pa Zin Taung Pyant
" Thi Nyunt Let Thin
" Kun Lin
" Nauk Twe
" Myit Ta Ywe
" Pale Kun Char
" Yatana Man Daing
" Pwint Saing Pona Yeik
" Naga Ate Ley Daunt
" Shit Hmyaunt
" Pyan Ka Bat.

Since there were altogether 55 kings in the long Bagan dynasty, some scholars are tempted to surmise that each of the 55 coiffeurs represents the fashion in the reign of each king. But there is no evidence to support their surmise. Sketches of the said 55 hairdo's are found on the old parabeiks (folding parchments) of white, black and gold. The illustrations for this article are reproductions from the old parabeik preserved in the research library of the Department of Archaeology, Yangon.

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