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Performing Arts

Ou:zi Aka

Folk dance with Ou:zi drum


Competing Ou:zi dance in the Myanmar Traditional Cultural Performing Arts Competitions (1999).

Ou:zi dance originated in the environs of Shwebo, the first capital of Kon-baung dynasty (A.D. 1752-1885). It was artistic creation of the peasants.

Reasons for selection

Ou:zi is a musical band used throughout the country. It appeals to all strata of Myanmar society.

Area where performed

With Mandalay the last capital of Myanmar Kings as its centre, Ou:zi band and dance spread out to and pervade all parts of the country.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Characteristics of Ou:zi dance are hilarious, lively, jerky and exciting. There are two types of Ou:zi dance - reeling and jerky type and artistic type. In the first type the dancer wears short sleeve jacket, nether garment tucked in like a loin design, a slanting hair knot and with two cheeks painted with circular patches of Myanmar natural make-up called thanakha (a paste ground from a fragrant wood). In the second type the dancer is dressed like prince and he dances artistically like a prince. But in these days you will also find U Shway Yoe dance in Ou:zi band. U Shway Yoe is a typical Myanmar old gentleman dancing comically.

Ou:zi band is composed of one ou:zi drum, one hne (oboe)or one flute, a pair of cymbals and bamboo clappers.
Ou:zi band and dance are performed at Pagoda festival, charity festival, Thingyan (New Year or Water pouring)festival, funeral of head monk as well as on the happy occasions of the rural folks.

In old glazed plaques of Myanmar historic period Thaton (5th to 10th century A.D.)are found figures presenting dances which resemble Ou:zi dances of today. Thus we may safely assume that Ou:zi dance had already appeared since then.

The design of ou:zi
Ou:zi is a one face drum in the shape of a round pot with an elongated body and an open end tail. It is mostly made padauk wood. The surface of the face of ou:zi drum which is leather is marked with a circular design of thitsi (lacquer). On it, it is applied pat-sa (drum food, which is a specially prepared paste for tuning). There are three sizes of ou:zi- the big, the medium, and small of which you may use one of your choice. The biggest ou:zi is 30 inches high, 8 inches in diameter of the face, 10.5 inches in circumference, 28.5 inches in circumference of pa-daing and 32 inches in circumference of the drum pot.

Publication and textual documentation

Tin Tun Oo
1999 Myanmar Ou:zi Myanmar Pot Drum .

Audio documentation

Myanmar Radio Department
1965 Burmese Folk Songs.
Ministry of Union Culture.

Visual documentation

Myanmar Traditional Cultural Performing Arts Competitions.
Myanmar Radio and Television, 1999, National Theatre.

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Fine Arts Department
131 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar
Tel : (95-1)543 153, Fax : (95-1)544 944

Data provider

U Zaw Than
Fine Arts Department
Address: 131 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar

(Revised in July 2004)
Ms. Khin Hla Htay
Yangon University of Culture
Address: Aung Zeya Road, 26th block, South Dagon Myothit Township, Yangon, Myanmar