Next stop on our unexpected motorcycle taxi tour of Mandalay was the gold pounder’s street.
Small squares of gold are individually laid out on a thick wad of waxy sheets.
The sheets are wrapped in leather.The gold pounders pound on the leather packets with heavy mallets until the small squares of gold become much thinner, and in the process end up at least four times larger. These new, super-thin pieces of gold are cut into four pieces, and again laid out individually on waxy paper and pounded to make them even thinner and larger.
The gold pounders take shifts – this is exhausting work.
The final result is tissue-thin gold leaf in 2″ x 2″ squares that has a tendency to float away at the smallest breath. I purchased a small paquet of gold squares to add to some of my future paintings. Most people in Myanmar buy the gold to apply to their favourite Buddha. This is at the Mahamuni Pagoda where a man is applying a small square of gold to a Buddha that has gotten rather lumpy from all his golden worship.
By now it was time for lunch and our drivers were eager to take us to a great restaurant they knew of. The prices were a little higher than the super cheap hole-in-the-wall café we favoured but the food was good and the beer ice cold! (Cheap little hole-in-the-wall café.)
After this our drivers dropped us off back in town where we said our sad good-byes.