The national symbols of Burma (also known as Myanmar) are icons, symbols and other cultural expressions which are seen as representative of the Burmese people. These have been accumulated over centuries and are mainly from the Bamar majority, while other ethnic groups also maintain their own symbols.
No official codification or de jure recognition exists, but most of these symbols are seen as de facto representative of the Burmese people. The use of much of these symbols were cultivated during the Konbaung dynasty which ruled Burma from 1761 to 1885.
The padauk (Burmese: ပိတောက်) is referred to as the national flower of Burma and is associated with the Thingyan period (Burmese New Year, usually mid-April). Unfortunately, it is often mistaken with the Cassia fistula (Ngu-wah), which is the national flower of Thailand.
The thazin orchid (Burmese: သဇင်) is another national flower. According to a Burmese poem, during the Konbaung era, the king had the right to claim the first flowering bud of thazin within the realm and any transgression was punishable by death.
The ingyin (အင်ကြင်း) is the third national flower of Burma.
The Green Peafowl, called the 'Daung' (Burmese: ဒေါင်း) or U-Doung in Burmese, is one of the national animals of Burma. It is strongly associated with the Konbaung monarchy and the anti-colonial nationalist movements and thus is popularly seen as the symbol of the Burmese state. The Dancing peacock, Ka-Daung (Burmese: ကဒေါင်း) was used as the symbol of the Burmese monarch and was stamped on the highest denominator coins minted by Burma's last dynasty. Upon independence, it was again featured on Burmese banknotes from 1948 til 1966. The 'Dancing Peacock' also appeared on certain flags of the Konbaung dynasty, British Burma and also the State of Burma which was a collaborationist Japanese client state during the Second World War.
An alternative pose, to denote struggle, is the fighting peacock, Khoot-Daung (Burmese: ခြတ္ဒေါင်း) as seen visibly on the party flag of Aung San Suu Kyi's de jure disbanded National League for Democracy. Due to the political connections, the peacock has been discarded in favour of the Chinthe by the military junta which ruled Burma after 1988.
The Chinthe, (Burmese: ခြင်္သေ့) a leogryph found mainly in front of pagodas and temples, have been promoted by the previous military government as the symbol of state. The Chinthe had been used as a symbol of state, mainly as a supporting figure to the peacock, after independence, but it became more prominent only after 1988 - when it began to appear on almost all denominations of Burmese banknotes and coins (1999).
The white elephant (Burmese: ဆင်ဖြူတော်) is another symbol of state associated with the days of the monarchy. Like in neighbouring Thailand, the white elephant is revered as a blessing towards the entire country. The importance of the white elephant to Burmese and Theravada culture can be traced to the role which white elephants play in Buddhist cosmology and the Jatakas. Hsinbyushin, the name of a Konbaung King means 'Lord of the White Elephant'.
A popular saying states "A thee ma, thayet; a thar ma, wet; a ywet ma, lahpet" (အသီးမှသရက်၊ အသားမှဝက်၊ အရွက်မှလက်ဖက်။), translated as "Of all the fruit, the mango's the best; of all the meat, the pork's the best; and of all the leaves, lahpet's the best".
Mohinga is the de facto national dish of Burma. It is a rice noodle dish served with thick fish broth and is generally eaten for breakfast. The main ingredients of the broth are catfish, chickpea flour, lemongrass, banana stem, garlic, onion, ginger and ngapi.
Laphet thoke is another symbolic dish of Burma, albeit a snack. It consists of pickled tea leaves soaked in oil eaten with an assortment of fritters including roasted groundnuts, deep fried garlic, sun dried prawns, toasted sesame and deep fried crispy beans. Laphet is served in a traditional 'oat' - a lacquer container with individual compartments for each ingredients. Lahpet was an ancient symbolic peace offering between warring kingdoms in the history of Myanmar, and is exchanged and consumed after settling a dispute.
Chinlone is the national sport of Burma. A non-competitive sport, the game focuses on players attempting to exhibit moves designed to prevent the ball from touching the ground, without using their hands. Mandalay is a major centre for playing and learning chinlone.
The Saung or Burmese harp, is the national musical instrument of Burma. Although not used much in modern music, it is seen as the epitome of Burmese culture. It is the only surviving harp in Asia.
^Aung-Thwin, Maitrii (2012). "Towards a national culture: chinlone and the construction of sport in post-colonial Myanmar". Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics15 (10): 1341–1352. doi:10.1080/17430437.2012.744206.