Pa-O women wearing a traditional black tunic and a brightly colored turban. The turbans are often simply scarves or towels bought at local markets and then are wrapped in a traditional style. According to an old legend the Pa-O are descendants of a father who was a supernatural being and a mother who was a dragon. The women’s trademark turban is a manifestation of the creation myth. The Pa-O, also known as Taungthu, are the second most numerous ethnic group in Burma’s Shan-State.

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Burmese monks studying in a monastery in the former capital Yangon (Rangoon).

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A woman is selling snacks at a night-time food stall in Yangon's Chinatown.

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Sunrise in Bagan. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Bagan (also known as Pagan), the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Burma. The city is home to more than 2,000 sacred buildings in an area of about 36 square kilometers. Most of the Pagodas and temples are made out of bricks. During the height of the Kingdom of Bagan, heirs and rich Buddhist believers were building temples and Pagodas to honor Buddha.

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Buddhist nuns walk around Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s most sacred site. The Golden Pagoda is said to enshrine eight strands of Buddha’s hair inside.

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The Intha’s unique rowing style while fishing. The Inle Lake is Burma’s second largest freshwater lake with an estimated surface of 116 km2 and a length of 22 km. The lake is inhabited by many different tribes, predominantly of Intha but also of Pa-O, Kayah, Bamar and others. The Intha live in various small villages along the lake’s shores and in houses build on stilts in the lake itself. They are famous for their unique rowing style where the fishermen stand on the boat’s stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands.

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Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

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Young Monks in a monastery in Yangon. 

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Detail of a Buddha statue in Bagan.

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A young Burmese girl is sitting in front of one of the pilgrim-souvenir shops in Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma's most sacred sites. The Golden Pagoda is said to enshrine eight strands of Buddha’s hair inside. The girl's face is covered with Tanaka, a paste made out of wood's bark used for cosmetics as well as protection against the sun.

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Crab fisher at Chaungtha.

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A monk is praying inside Yangon's famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

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Man praying at Golden Rock, a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon-State. According to legend, Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of Buddha's hair.

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Nun praying in Shwedagon Pagoda. 

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In Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda in Yangon the statue of a seated Buddha is seen through the alley.
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A pilgrim is being photographed from a platform in front on Mount Popa. Mount Popa in Burma is the supposed home of the 37 most important Nat spirits and therefore the major Nat pilgrimage site. According to animism believe Nats were human beings who met violent deaths and then became spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind or stones. While Buddhism is mostly concerned with the dealing of future lives, Nat spirits are asked for everyday problems. Every village has a Nat shrine where offerings can be made. In addition to asking for good fortune offerings are also made to avoid harm by those Nats who are considered to be angry.

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Mount Popa is the home to 37 Nat spirits. Regular ceremonies are held by spiritual medium dancing into trance to be able to communicate with the spirits. Transgender are seen as more likely to be able to communicate with Nat spirits.

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A young Burmese boy is ringing the bell at Mount Popa. In Buddhism the bell symbolizes Buddha's voice.

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School kids in Mingun, a small town near Mandalay, which is famous for the Mingun temple, a monumental uncompleted stupa began by King Bodawpaya in 1790. The kids wear Tanaka, a paste made out of wood to protect against the sun. The colorful bags are their schoolbagas. School pupils wear a uniform, green trousers or skirts with white shirts.

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The spartan bedroom of a young monk in Yangon.

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Burmese nuns walking on a road in Bagan, next to an old temple.

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A father has just taken an image of the Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma's most sacred place, and shows it to his daughter. The Golden Pagoda is said to enshrine eight strands of Buddha’s hair inside.

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Win Sein Taw Ya near Mudon is the largest reclining Buddha in the world, and at 30 meters high and 180 meters in length can be seen for miles. After nearly 20 years of construction the Buddha is still not completed. 

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In Buddhism the most important date is the weekday you are born. There are eight days a week (wednesday is divided in two parts, before and after midday). Around Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda eight statues of Buddha along with the relevant animal for the day of birth are situated clockwise. Buddhist believers go to their birthday corner and water the Buddha and the animal to gain merit for the afterlife.

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A young Buddhist girl is praying in front of various Buddhas statues inside Yangon's famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

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Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

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Inside a monastery in Yangon.

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The Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda in Yangon is famous for its striking reclining Buddha image of 65 meters long and 16 meters high.
The highly revered image is housed in a large shed North of Kandawgyi Lake. The original image was completed in 1907.

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Statue of a reclining Buddha in Bagan.

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Sunrise in Bagan. The former Kingdom capital is home to more than 2,000 sacred buildings in an area of about 36 square kilometers. Most of the Pagodas and Temples are made out of bricks. During the height of the Bagan Kingdom heirs and rich Buddhist believers were building temples and Pagodas to honor Buddha.

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Mandalay. Men spend hours hammering gold to obtain thin leaves. They usually start at an early age, around 16, after a six months training. They stop when they reach their mid-forties, as their bodies can no longer endure the hard physical work.

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An old gold-leaf hammerer in Mandalay.

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Young girls and women - some of them are under ten years old - work the whole day in the hot and muggy room. They earn about one US-dollar a day, which is exactly the price for a ten-piece package of gold leaf.

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In Burma, the demand for gold leaves is huge. They are used to gild pagodas and temples. It is considered a sacred handicraft. The work is regarded as a work for Buddha.

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The famous Mahamudi Buddha Statue in Mandalay which is said to have a 40 cm thick layer of gold weighting 8 tons.

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Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

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Buddhist believers in front of a huge sitting Buddha in Bagan.

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Burmese girls walking a bridge on Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon. In the back the famous Karaweik, a replica of a Burmese royal barge, can be spotted.

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Two women are selling jewelry at Bogyoke Aung San Market which is famous for selling gems.

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Padaung woman.

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Old women in Chauk.

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Local crab fisher at Chaungtha Beach.

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