Behind the Slate Board

Photo - Phyo Thiha

Slate boards were once the most important thing in every young student’s school bag. Before the days of notebooks and pens, students would use them to write answers, practice their handwriting and work out mathematics. Nowadays, they are mostly bought by restaurants and cafes who want a retro way to display their menus and as a nod to bygone days.

When you look at a slate board, you might think it would be easy to make. But hold your prejudices. The processes involved in creating these slate boards are complex and varied. There are several steps. There is only one village called Mu-doon in Balu Kyun, Mon state, that makes slate boards even though Shan State, Mon State and Magwe region have the kind of rock from which slate boards are made from.

Stone plates for slate boards are dug out from stone mines several hundred feet deep without proper equipment. Then the plates are polished to have smooth surface so that they can be written on with chalk or a small stick of soap-stone. Next, the wooden framed is fixed to it. Like this they are brought into the market.

The photo essay is a biography of a slate board starting out at Mu-doon village where it is born.

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Posted by Phyo Thiha

Since 2012 Phyo Thiha has been an innovator and self-taught artist who has perfected his own style of street photography. Originally from Twan Tay, Phyo Thiha shoots candid moments and absurd situations in every-day settings and whatever attracts his interest. Besides shooting in the streets he also covers news, storytelling, social events, the 2013 Sea Games and is often seen at important political moments of the day."


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