Myanmar - Jeff Henry Photography
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On the Water

On the Water

In this image a traditional Inle Lake fisherman kneels on the bow of his boat and prepares to launch his conical net into the water. It’s early in the morning, with the sun having just crested the hilltops and beginning to cast its rays onto the lake. Life on Myanmar’s Inle Lake moves at a pace dictated by the rains and lake, with people living over the water year round in homes built atop bamboo poles and transportation via long handcrafted boats. It all seems so peaceful, and I think this image captures that sense of peace.

I’ve visited many places in my life, and in most I would say that daily life and then environment are intertwined but not inseparable. That is not the case here. While I only had the chance to visit for a brief stint, I came away with the strong notion that life here is fully integrated with the lake, and without the lake the people would struggle to survive. Of course, they can and do adapt: changing environment, increased tourism, etc. But, the sense I got here was one of togetherness: the people and lake as one.

In this image we have one such example: a fisherman, accomplishing his craft in the traditional way using a conical net while rowing with his leg. Of course, what can’t be known from just looking at the image is that this fisherman no longer uses his net to catch fish, but rather to show his proud tradition to visiting travelers. The economics of Lake Inle have changed, and while there used to be hundreds of such fisherman plying the lake each day for food, now they almost all use more modern nets or long fishing lines and hooks. This man, however, has kept alive the tradition of his family and the lake, and he will gladly demonstrate it to anybody passing by.

AsiaAsianCULTURECommercial FishingEthnicityFishermanInle LakeMyanmarRegionalShanSoutheast AsianSunriseTradition