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In addition to the Buddha and Nats, bicentennial tea trees are held in great reverence in Kyushaw society as benefactors and are worshipped by Kyushaw villagers. As sacred trees, the leaves of these old trees are never plucked. Every year on the full-moon day of the month of Tabaung (late February to early March), around the time of the first tea leaf harvests, the owner of the land where the bicentennial tea tree stands dresses it in “golden robes” i.e., they gild the tea tree in gold leaves using ripe bananas as glue. Concerning this, one 90-year-old villager who has a bicentennial tea tree explained, 

We Ta’ang depend on tea for our living, so we never forget to express our gratitude toward it. The tea tree is our benefactor. Every year, I pay my respects and present offerings to the bicentennial tea tree. In my house shrine, I make offerings of joss sticks, candles, and tea leaves from my first harvest to the Buddha and pray for profitable tea sales. 

Apart from the owner, other villagers may also come to the bicentennial tea tree and gild it in gold and place offerings of rice, curry, joss sticks, candles, and boiled tea. For the Ta’ang of Kyushaw, the bicentennial tea tree is also a sacred part of their religious beliefs. The Buddha, the bicentennial tea trees, and the elders of the village are all benefactors in their tradition and are worthy of worship and offerings. The villagers of Kyushaw also have a tradition of making household Buddha images out of centennial tea tree wood. This custom is highly favored by the Ta’ang. It is done as an expression of gratitude towards Buddha for the blessings they receive through tea. According to a 60-year-old local woman, these Buddha images are always offered with the first harvested shwe phi tea leaves alongside cool water and flowers. Along with the offerings, prayers are made for an abundant tea harvest and profitable tea sales. Packs of dried tea are also placed year-round as offerings to these household Buddha images. Most locals in Kyushaw village have these centennial tea tree Buddha images in their household shrines.




2022 August 08


kyushaw village
Kyaukmae township
northern shan state

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University of Mandalay


Centennial tea tree


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