Our People & Our Culture
Mon people are an ethnic group from Myanmar (Burma), living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai-Myanmar border. One of the earliest people to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar and Thailand. The Mon culture is credited as a major source of influence on the dominant Burmese culture.
As the eastern Mon was absorbed into Thai/Siamese population long time ago, the western Mon of Myanmar faces the same pressure to assimilate. In Myanmar, the Mon is fighting for the retention of Mon language, culture, and political autonomy. Once the predominant ethno-linguistic group in Lower Myanmar (Burma), speakers of the Mon language number less than a million today, and those of Mon descent number anywhere between two million and eight million. The majorities of Mon speak and are literate only in Burmese language, and are often counted as members of the majority Bamar (Burmans).
Sample of Mon Language spoken til today
At River Kwai Jungle Rafts, Mon is employed and works in the resort. We train them and give jobs to them so that they have a better life condition. It is easy to spot who are Mon who are not. Mon is always have make up on their face both male and female. They use Thanaka, natural face powder base make-up, serving as a sun protector and moisturizing. You could try it yourself too. They sell it in the village
Traditional cosmetic of Mon
“Thanakha” a unique traditional make-up has been used and adores by all women from Myanmar, which has been used for over 2000 years in Myanmar history. Till today most of the young lady from Myammar wears yellowish-white coating on her face in different pattern which also shows their traditional charm. Women’s own beauty is not affected even when sweats and nor sunburn but keep the skin cooler from heat. Wearing Thanakha is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar (formerly called Burma), seen commonly applied to the face and other parts of body by women & girls, and sometimes also used by men & boys.
The earliest literary reference to thanaka is in a 14th-century poem written by Mon-speaking King Razadarit’s consort. The thanakha-grinding stone (flat and circular in shape) , Princess Datukalayar daughter of King Bayintnaung (15th Century), seen at that Shwe Mawdaw Pagoda Museum in Bago City stands witness to the centuries tradition of wearing thanakha in Myanmar.
Thanakha cream is made by grinding the bark/ wood or roots of a thanaka tree with a small amount of water on a circular stone slab called kyauk pyin. The pale, yellowish paste can be applied not only on the face but also on the body, arms and legs. In the regions of Upper Myanmar, thanakha sellers usually demonstrate the making of thanakha paste. This gives the buyers a chance to test the quality of the thanakha before buying it. They do this either by smelling and tasting or applying it on the skin. Pure thanakha tastes a little bitter and fragrant scent somewhat similar to sandalwood. Its yellowish paste cools the skin and does not peel off even when it is rubbed. Thanakha trees originally found/ grew along the forest and hilly area in Thailand, Myanmar and Himalayan ranges of India.
Thanakha combination with Myanmar climate benefits as thanakha paste tightens the pores, smoothens skin, removes acnes, controls oiliness, and prevents getting wrinkles caused by sunburn. Moreover this is the reason why women laborer applies thick layers of thanakha on their faces when they work in the paddy fields and also the color of thanakha goes well with the Myanmar’s yellow complexion.