Living With Water

Columbus Day was yesterday. All along the east coast of the Mid-Atlantic States of the USA, we were not worried about storms or floods. But in the central part of the US snow has already intruded into the lives of people. As I write this I am steps from the Hudson River, and many people live right near the river bank in a near-endless row of high rise apartment towers offering luxury living spaces with river views.

01LWW(above) One man water taxi on a Burmese River


(above) Upain Bridge, Mandalay by Tin Tun Hlaing

No doubt, around some parts of this country, people will be wishing they were somewhere else, or hoping they will get through the next few days without having to face a deluge of rain for the long holiday weekend which marks the 2nd unofficial end of summer.

(Below) Lake Ferry, Myanmar



Rowing on the Irawaddy by Tin Tun Hlaing (above)

Some years ago, another storm, this one called Katrina, wrought devastating damage to major parts of the Southeast USA. It is no secret that we really have no say in the weather at all. Mother Nature can choose to sustain life, and nurture us, or to make us feel as flimsy as the dust particles that might collect on the most disused portions of a spider’s web.


Above) Net Fishing on Inle Lake

In other parts of the world where people might live near the riverbank, or by the lakeside, or the ocean shore; their lives may have none of the conveniences that we have and take for granted. An artist comes to mind, and his works are of people whose entire lives are sustained by the water around them rather than supported by water that runs through pipelines and is turned on or off by choice.

(Below) Fishermen on Inle Lake by Tin Tun Hlaing


Tin Tun Hlaing is the artist. He lives in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. His art is filled with images from the Burmese culture, traditions, and daily life in the countryside. For this month’s topic we will have a look at his art involving life on the water.


(above) Paddling with leg wrapped around oar

I’ve selected some area photos to offer a perspective of the real life compared to the Hlaing’s compositions of similar subjects. Please consider that the photographs are created in an instant while the art painted stroke by stroke on a canvas, might take days or weeks before it is completed.

(below) Casting the Net by Tin Tun Hlaing


The fishermen of Inle Lake work from narrow boats that they paddle by wrapping one leg around an oar. They work with nets, and depending on the size and amount of the catch, this determines the welfare of their families or maybe what they will have for dinner that night.


(above) Early Morning Inle Lake by Tin Tun Hlaing

In other parts of Burma, peoples’ lives center along the shores of the Irawaddy River. They use the river for bathing, for food, and for their only means of transportation. They live, eat, and sleep either just a few feet from the water or above the water in homes on stilts.


above) Morning Calm Inle Lake by Tin Tun Hlaing

Where I live, acquiring ice to make a drink cold, or fresh water to bath in or to cook food in, is no more difficult than opening the door of my refrigerator, or turning a faucet to the ON position.What would our lives be like if we had to carry water to our homes in heavy earthen jugs?

(below) Irawaddy Fishing Boats by Tin Tun Hlaing


Of course, these are just rhetorical questions for most of us. Except when Mother Nature  intervenes, we are never faced with having to make real-life decisions based on the availability of fresh water.


above) Bathing In The River by Tin Tun Hlaing

I hope you will enjoy these special looks at life on the water as painted by Tin Tun Hlaing. Despite the hardships in Burma, this art throbs with life. The artist’s use of bold colors, and bird’s eyes perspectives all are wondrous to me. AS we see from the comforts of our homes, or offices, or even  someplace with wireless access to the internet, elsewhere life goes on. Kudos to the artist, and thanks for stopping by The Arts.

13LWWwatercarriersabove) Water Carriers by Tin Tun Hlaing

(below) Preparing Breakfast by Tin Tun Hlaing



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