About - Inle Heritage
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Many of us were born and grew up in the rare natural environment around Inle Lake, amongst its diverse communities and unique traditions. We are proud of our home and want to ensure our children grow up with these same riches.

 

Inle Heritage is a not-for-profit organisation that looks after the cultural and natural heritage of the Inle Region, and helps it grow as a great place to live, work and visit.

 

Scroll down to learn how.

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The Inle Region is located on the western edge of the Shan plateau in eastern Myanmar. It stretches from the mountain tea plantations around Pindaya to Samkar at the southern end of the lake; the gateway to Kayah State.
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It is home to a multitude of diverse ethnic groups, including the Inthar, Pa’o, Danu, Palaung and Taunggyo; and many smaller groups as well as the Shan and lowland Bamar.

 

At the heart of the region is Inle Lake, the second largest body of freshwater in the country.

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Here the Inthar live in communities of stilt houses above the lake’s surface, commuting by canoe and long-tail boat.

 

At the heart of the region is Inle Lake, the second largest body of freshwater in the country.

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Traditional Inthar fishermen continue their iconic ancestral practice of fishing with conical nets (saung) and harpoons (hmein) whilst skilfully rowing with one leg.

For almost a century Inle farmers have farmed ye-chan – unique floating gardens built from rafts of water hyacinth and silt anchored to the lake bed with bamboo stakes.

 

These self-irrigating, flood and drought resistant strips provide year round harvests and have made Inle an agricultural centre.

The region’s history of unique cultural and artistic practices stretches back even further. Regional artisans were historically renowned for their jewellery, paper making, wood carving and textiles, including a silk spun from the stem of the lotus flower found only in this region.

The wetland ecosystem of the lake is home to 267 species of bird and is the nesting place of the globally endangered Sarus crane. Of over 48 species of fish, otters and turtles, at least 9 are endemic to the lake, including the Inle Carp, a symbolic fish for the Inthar.

“Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.”


Inle Lake and its watershed gained the status of a UNESCO Biosphere and Man Reserve in 2015, in recognition of its ecological importance and the unique innovations of its ethnic communities.

Since the 17th century, these ethnic groups have converged on the lake in late September or October according to the lunar calendar for the Phaung Daw U Festival, when leg-rowing races are held and the ceremonial circumnavigation of five holy Buddha images takes place.

Over the last few years, tourism, and growth in other markets, have presented great opportunities, but with these come threats to the region and its social fabric, livelihoods and environment.

 

Our mission, through heritage work, knowledge sharing and socially responsible business models, is to work with the communities of the Inle Region so that they all benefit from these opportunities and reduce these threats.

What is heritage?

 

For us, heritage means taking care of what our ancestors gave us, sharing it with others and passing it on future generations in a better condition.

For generations of Inle inhabitants, the natural environment (natural heritage) and our unique cultural identity (cultural heritage) have proved our greatest inheritance.

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Passing on our natural heritage in a better state means respecting and ensuring the future of the Inle Region’s habitats, its often unique animals and plants, and the environment we all share.

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Looking after cultural heritage means curating and relaying all the many man-made objects, buildings, practices and traditions that define the Inle Region.

 

It means protecting and promoting tangible culture: physical realities such as buildings, religious sites and landscapes.

 

But it also means keeping alive our intangible culture: behaviours and traditions such as languages, traditional dress, leg-rowing and craft techniques.

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For the Inle Region, cultural heritage and natural heritage often go hand in hand, like fisherman and fish or floating gardens and the lake.

 

Inle Heritage’s work likewise often deals with culture and nature together.

What is sharing knowledge?

 

Nobody can preserve Inle’s heritage on their own. It belongs to every individual in the area. It is the history, customs and livelihood of each community. It is the nature and environment that we share.

Most of our staff were born and raised in the Inle Region, but we are still learning more about our home. By learning from both Inle communities and visitors, and sharing what we know, we can improve Inle’s visitor experience and help communities to thrive whilst maintaining their cultures and ways of life.

At our site in Innpawkhon, the local and international public, businesses, tourism professionals, and schools can learn about our heritage initiatives and share ideas for how to promote them around Inle’s communities.

 

Our on-site vocational training centre accepts around 40 students a year to learn to become hotelier professionals. Students gain experience on the job in Inthar Heritage Restaurant and Thahara Inle Heritage.

What is social business?

 

The best way to support Inle Heritage is to visit us and have a good time.

Preserving the heritage of the Inle Region is an ongoing commitment so its funding must be sustainable. We believe heritage efforts will not work in the long run if they are dependent on outside donations.

We want visitors to enjoy supporting Inle’s unique cultural and natural identity. So we have set up socially responsible businesses around things you like doing, such as buying locally made arts and crafts, enjoying homemade Inthar cuisine, then learning how to cook it, or staying at our village Bed & Breakfast in the middle of the lake.

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We want visitors to enjoy supporting Inle’s unique cultural and natural identity. So we have set up social businesses around things you like doing, like buying locally made arts and crafts, enjoying home-made Inthar cuisine, then learning how to cook it or staying at our village bed & breakfast in the middle of the lake.

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These projects are socially responsible businesses. Inle Heritage is a not-for-profit organisation and uses proceeds from the businesses to fund other similar heritage projects.

 

This is how it is spent:

 

Inle Heritage Hospitality

Vocational Training Centre 80%
Conservation Projects 10%
Agriculture Projects 10%
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This covers around 70% of our current expenses, with private contributions making up the rest.

 

Our goal, with the help of your visits to Inle Heritage, is to reach full self-sufficiency by 2020.

Meet the Family

  • Yin Myo Su

    Yin Myo Su

    Founder

  • Aung Kyaw Swar

    Aung Kyaw Swar

    Principal

  •  Nang Myat Chaw Su

    Nang Myat Chaw Su

    Conservation Project Director

  •  Myo Thandar

    Myo Thandar

    HR Manager

  •  Nang Khin Cho

    Nang Khin Cho

    Finance Manager

  •  Naing Win

    Naing Win

    F&B Production Trainer and Head Chef

  • Thant Zin Aye

    Thant Zin Aye

    Inle Heritage Stilt Houses Host

  •  Ye' Wint

    Ye' Wint

    F&B Services Trainer

  •  Aung Phyoe Min

    Aung Phyoe Min

    Front Office Facilitator

  •  Nyut Maung

    Nyut Maung

    Restaurant Manager

  •  Nang Myint Oo

    Nang Myint Oo

    Housekeeping Trainer

  •  Nyut Thein

    Nyut Thein

    Store Keeper and Purchasing

  •  Nyi Nyi Thwe

    Nyi Nyi Thwe

    Sous Chef