'Syne', Burmese musicians [Hsaing]
Photographer: Watts and Skeen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Burmese musicians taken by Watts and Skeen in the 1890s, from the Curzon Collection. Burma has a vast musical repertoire known as the Maha Gita or Great Song. Burmese music is broadly related to the music genres of South East Asia and uses gong chime instruments quite similar to those of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It also draws upon the rich heritage of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The band of musicians in this view plays a variety of percussion and wind instruments which typically make up an outdoor ensemble known as hsaing. These include bamboo clappers, cymbals, flutes, and drums. The circular frames in which two musicians sit are unique Burmese instruments. The smaller one to the left is known as a Kyi-waing and consists of metal gongs arranged in a circular frame placed horizontally. The performer sits in the centre of the frame and plays with both hands by striking the gongs with padded, round hammers. The larger one to the right is a Saing-Waing, a series of eighteen cylindrical drums made out of hollowed wood hung on a circular frame.