Visitors to Myanmar can hardly without paying attention to the thanakha, a unique make-up distinctive to people in Myanmar. The bark of the thanakha tree is ground into power, mixed with water, then smeared onto faces, mainly to prevent sunburn, but also to serve as an mild astrigent and cosmetic.

Nearly every woman wear thanakha, so do many children, and some men. Thanakha can be elaborate patterns (usually, but not limited to, leaf-pattern) (top) or a rather impromtu smear (above); or it can be light (below) or thick (bottom).


A siren bathes by the Ayeyarwady near Mingun. A vast majority of people in Myanmar, men or women, bathe at least twice a day at a nearby bodywater, whether it be river, well or stream. Applying thanakha after a cold-water bath attributes to the secret of the beauty of the skins of the Myanmar women, young (below) and old (bottom).