Myanmar – Novice Monks at Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery

If you visit Inle Lake, in northern Myanmar, on your way from the airport in Heho to the village of Nyaung Shwe where you will likely board a longboat and head south for the villages and resorts on the Lake, you will pass a monastery.  Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery.  It is not large – you might even pass it without noticing.  But if you stop, you will be rewarded with a 19th century monastery built entirely of teak, painted red, that today remains in full operation as school and home for young novice monks and their teachers.   Photographers are drawn to it for its unique oval windows – and the incredible light found inside  – and for the white stucco temple next to it with its red interior and thousands of niches, each holding a small Buddha.  Add to this, young novice monks, cloaked in reds and oranges, and it is almost overwhelming.

The images here were taken in February 2011 and February 2012.  On each visit, we were lucky to find the novices at their schoolwork – but oh so willing to be our models (even if, sometimes, it was impossible to get them to smile).

The rustic kitchen below, photographed in 2011, has been replaced by a modern white kitchen – not nearly as photogenic.

These last images were set up for us by Karl Grobl and his local guide, Mr MM – they get all the credit for such a beautiful setting and light.

Thanks for bearing with me through all the images – clearly, I had a hard time selecting my favorites for this post!

All the best,


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12 Responses to Myanmar – Novice Monks at Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery

  1. so beautiful!! cant wait to go in few weeks. michele

  2. errolbennett says:

    Absolutely wonderful and moving images. Thanks for these inspirational pieces of art. Myanmar is on my list of places I have to visit.

  3. Ian Mylam says:

    Simply stunning images, Lisa. You must be proud of these. Fabulous!

  4. Patrice says:

    Wow! Each one is more gorgeous than the next!

  5. karlgrobl says:

    Wonderful images Lisa….absolutely wonderful!

  6. Catherine Wisner says:

    Wonderful post are inspiring with your it..

  7. Frank Exline says:

    Hey Lisa, I’m amazed and inspired by these images.. the lighting is astounding.. wonderful work.

  8. Michele, Errol, Ian, Patrice, Karl, Catherine and Frank . . . . Thank you so much for your amazing comments! This monastery is a truly special place. If you have not been there, I do hope you get a chance to visit (and shoot) there soon. Karl – thank you for getting me there again.

  9. Ursula says:

    Just stunning, Lisa!!

  10. Carol Chanel says:

    Lisa – these are truly beautiful photos — you’ve captured the depths of the monks and the richness of the surroundings. Thanks for sharing! Carol

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