Glass Factory yangon-

Nagar Glass Factory (Yangon, Burma)

When in Yangon, we visited a unique place: a former family glass factory which went through dramatic events. Not a conventional tourist attraction, the place, however, has an interesting and heart-breaking story to it.

The story of success

Glass making was introduced in Myanmar in 1948 when a small group started Nagar Glass Factory producing medical bottles. The factory was the only one of this kind at that time in the country, complete with a glass-blowing facility and several warehouses full of hand-blown glass. Nagar Factory turned into a family business as the founder’s son, Myat Kywe, learned how to blow different shapes, how to affect the viscosity of the glass, and to get the temperature right. He joined his father’s business as a teenager and relied on books to learn more techniques. The factory quickly drew national attention and Myat Kywe was commissioned to build the glass shades now decorating the lampposts of Yangon’s Sule Pagoda as well as the eyes of the Chauk Htat Gyi Recliming Buddha.

In a region where glass was mostly manufactured for export, Myat Kywe built a reputation for himself as a leading artisan of this craft. He has received many important guests including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

autograph of astronaut John Glenn

Cyclone Nargis and its consequences

But that was before everything went to pieces when Cyclone Nargis ripped through the country in 2008. The disaster killed at least 138.000 people, but the casualties of such disasters continue to suffer long after the storm has passed and the aid workers have headed home. In Myanmar, more than 750.000 homes were affected by Nargis, and 375.000 people were still in need of housing in 2011, according to the UN.
Now, there is little left the the Nagar Factory. The brick chimney once used to redirect some of the heat generated by massive furnaces lays in disrepair next to collapsed roofs and building structures.
Cyclone Nargis

Nagar Glass Factory Yangon

The only remainder of the glory days is the piles of glassware scattered on the ground and remarkably untouched by cyclone. There was nowwhere to put them, so they laid them outside, in “natural warehouses“. Many bushes and plants protect the glass with the shade. The glassware includes champagne flutes, vases, bowls, drinking glasses, decorative balls and nativity scenes.
Cyclone Nargis and its consequences

It is now open to ramble for visitors to choose something for themselves to buy and thus help the former factory at least a bit.
Nagar Glass Factory Yangon

We had a great conversation with the family of once powerful enterpreneurs, and now bankrupts. The place leaves a strange impression, but is definitely unusual for a visit if you have a spare hour in Yangon. You will hardly find many places like that around the world.
Nagar Glass Factory Yangon

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