Thanaka Culture

Used for over 2,000 years, Thanaka paste is a unique Burmese tradition. Men, women, and children can be seen wearing it with a variety of patterns.

Burmese people apply the paste to their face, neck, and arms as a natural sunscreen and to cool the skin from the unforgiving tropical sun. Yet it is also used as a form of individual expression.  They paint circles, dots, or squares on each cheek; designs resembling tree and plant leafs; light stripes or a thick mask - everyone has his or her own style.

The paste is made from ground-up Thanaka tree bark mixed with water. The paste was historically used as a natural sunscreen but has since become a form of beauty and individual expression.