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Kalaga (Burmese: ကန့်လန့်ကာ) is a heavily embroidered appliqué tapestry made of silk, flannel, felt, wool and lace against a background made of cotton or velvet indigenous to Burma (Myanmar).[1] The word kalaga, which means "curtain," comes from the Burmese language, although Burmese refer to such tapestries as shwe gyi do (ရွှေချည်ထိုး; lit. "gold thread embroidery").[2] These tapestries use a sewing technique called shwe gyi (ရွှေချည်)[3]

This artform emerged during the Konbaung dynasty in the mid-19th century and reached its zenith during the reign of Mindon Min, when velvet became fashionable at the royal court.[4]

In a typical tapestry, padded figures are cut from various types of cloth and sewn onto a background, usually red or black cloth to form an elaborate scene, traditionally from Burmese classical plays (e.g. Ramayana, Jataka).[1][5][6] The figures are sewn using a combination of metallic and plain threads and adorned with sequins, beads and glass stones.[6]


  1. ^ a b Mukharji, T. N. (1888). Art-manufactures of India. Superintendent of Government Printing, India. pp. 387–388.
  2. ^ "Journal of Burma Studies - Volume 16.1". Northern Illinois University. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  3. ^ Fraser-Lu, Sylvia (1994). Burmese Crafts: Past and Present. Oxford University Press. p. 265. ISBN 9780195886085.
  4. ^ Falconer, John; Luca Invernizzi (2000). Burmese Design and Architecture. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 194–195. ISBN 9789625938820.
  5. ^ Leslie, Catherine Amoroso (2007). Needlework Through History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 121. ISBN 9780313335488.
  6. ^ a b "More information about Burmese Kalagas". SiamTraders.com. 2001. Retrieved 6 October 2013.

See also[edit]