When you arrive in Myanmar (Burma), you will notice the faces of children, girls and women wearing yellowish paste. It is called Thankha in Myanmar language. It is the bark of the tree, botanical name as Limonia Accidissima.
It protects the skin from sunlight and makes the skin feel cooler in hot weather. It is a traditional cosmetic and also is a kind of whitening material herbal .It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin. There has no allergy and also no side effect by using Thanakha. It is widely applied to the face of women, girls and children and is lesser used by men and boys.
Some of the women wear Thanakha grinded together with sandalwood from head to toe .It gives fragrance as mild perfume from the body .Thanakha cream has been used by Burmese women for over 2000 years since Pyu Dynasty. It can be grown on the sandy and rocky soil of up country of Myanmar where there is plenty of sunshine. There are two kinds of the most popular Thanakha in Myanmar. One from Shwe Bo, located in Sagaing Region, can get yellowish colour and another one from Shinmadaung , located in Magway Region, can get whiten colour.
To get thanakha paste, it needs to grind with some drops of water on circular stone slab (Kyaukpyin in Myanmar language) which has a channel around the rim for the water to drain into. The creamy paste is daily applied to the face in attractive designs, the most common for being circular patch on each cheek, nose, sometimes made stripy with the fingers, or pattern in the shape of leaf, flower, and also highlighting the bridge of the nose with at the same time. It is very cute and is a very different tradition with the other countries.
In April, during the water festival in Myanmar, Rakhine people, one of the majority in Myanmar, held the grinding contact of sandal wood by beautiful young ladies to wash the Buddha before the Buddhist new year.
At Mahamuni pagoda in Mandalay, the people from religious team led by senior monk washes the face of great Buddha image by water of sandalwood paste in every early morning before offering early meals. It is very well known ceremony for Buddhist people.
Sometimes local people who got fever wears head to toe by Thanakha together with sandal wood and herbal medicine to recover.
Nowadays, Thanakha is more and more popular and widely used even in some neighbouring countries of Myanmar. Some cosmetic companies produce powder, liquid, cream, soap, facial foam, scara , lotion and perfume from Thanakha.
In brief, Thanakha represents of charming beauty of Myanmar people, an essential thing of Myanmar tradition and culture, also is good for healthy and beautiful skin.