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Burma blues from a buzzing Orient

Identifier: Film Collection no. 219

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Morden Expedition to Africa and Asia, 1922-1924. This is a William James Morden film of Burmese dancers performing a pwe, a drama or dance with dialogue, in Mandalay on the Irrawaddy River. The performance takes place on mats before a pagoda. The principal musical instruments are eighteen drums, of varying sizes, encircling a performer who beats them with his hands. A circle of brass gongs is played by another musician. Both the gongs and the drums sit within separate elaborately carved enclosures, kyi-waing and saing-waing, respectively. Five larger drums, cymbals (ya-gwin), bamboo clap sticks (wa-likot) and a primitive clarinet (hne) all contribute to the musical ensemble we cannot hear. The beauty of the dance is enhanced by the performers' costumes: tight white skirts (tamein), tight fitting lace jackets with brocaded wings, and lovely jewelry.


  • 1922-1924

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (11 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (11 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 35 mm. negative.



Herford Tynes Cowling, photographer; Randolf Bartlett, film editor; Pinellas Films, prducer; Hal Hodes Short Film Exchange, distributor.

Burma blues from a buzzing Orient, 1922-1924
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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