Men do not wear Thanaka. Thanaka is a thing reserved for women. These are statements we have been told frequently in many parts of Myanmar. Yet these rules seem to be more talk rather than strictly followed, particularly in the westernmost reaches of the country.

A Rakhine boy here wears a thick mask of Thanaka, one of many we saw in this part of the country.

A Rakhine boy here wears a thick mask of Thanaka, one of many we saw in this part of the country.

In the coastal Rakhine city of Taunggok, most people, including men, wear thick layers of Thanaka covering the whole face. We recorded virtually the same number of men wearing Thanaka as we did women, a trend unseen elsewhere in our data. This part of the country near Bangladesh is quite isolated both geographically and politically. Dense jungles and an extensive mountain range form a natural barrier that separates Rakhine and all its inhabitants from normative Burmese culture. This coupled with some of the hottest temperatures seen in Myanmar could be a decisive factor that encourgaes more men to participate in the daily use of Thanaka. 

Comment