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Strings of Desire 2012
Photography by Aung Myat Htay
This old Burmese puppet (marionette) is the character called “ZawGyi” known as the magician alchemist. He is often dressed in red with a gold and red cap, red trousers and slippers. This popular puppet can perform powerful magic such as boring through the earth and flying through the air, he is able to transform himself and others into other forms.
Zawgyi, the magician alchemist was was skilled in the art of alchemy. It was only during the third year of an apprentices puppeteer’s learning the art of puppet manipulations that he was allowed to work with the Zawgyi character as it required a great deal of skill to perform the quick acrobatic movements of this puppet and was considered a master of this art as the dance steps and acrobatics it performs is complicated and very fast.
Burmese puppet characters began to change from the 1820′s onwards although the demon, alchemist, horse, elephant, monkey, tiger, Prince and Princess remained constant. The puppet character Zawgyi the magician alchemist has been a popular character in puppet shows for a few hundred years.
The women in the photos is my mother, she loved puppet show since she was young. She born and lived in Mandalay long ago till when my family moved to Yangon. This Puppet (Zaw Gyi) is the only thing for her memory among the other house hold matters. Because the puppet can call the sense of hometown, music, drama and without freely life of under control but adorable toy with smile in every time.
Aung Myat Htay earned a BFA in painting from the Fine Arts School at Mandalay and a postgraduate degree in sculpture from University of Art and Culture Yangon. He was one of the Board of Director of New Zero Art Space Myanmar, and won the 2010 residency artist award in Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan. He has held 6 solo shows and participated in numerous group shows, both in Myanmar and abroad. His work has been shown in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Philippine and Japan. He has been using Photography as his art making medium for the past two years.