Decorated Lacquerware Box BLW03


This trapezoidal shaped antique lacquerware box was made in Bagan, the centre of lacquerware production. The tradition of lacquerware has been an integral part of Burmese culture since the 13th century. This arresting piece is finished in natural black lacquer as well as pigment from cinnabar to create the red-orange color and gold leaf. The vessel has seen considerable use and there are minor chips and cracks present as illustrated in the photos. This is quite normal for lacquer boxes of this age that were in regular use. This piece would have taken more than 6 months to complete.

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This lacquerware box has been skillfully decorated with a design known in Burma as yok-thei (human and animal figures amidst scrolling). The gold leaf technique known in Burma as shwei-zawa has also been generously employed to highlight the designs by providing a highly reflective surface. The outer parameters of the surfaces are decorated with a ribbon-like design known as dha-zin-gwe, (orchid scrolling) and ywe-dan, (bead-like design). Indicative of the ambitiousness of Burmese crafts, even the underside of the box has been decorated with the image of an elephant, a symbol of strength and courage.

Width: 31cm, 12.2 in
Height: 21cm, 6 in
Depth: 16cm, 3.5in
Weight: 998g
Materials: jackfruit wood, woven bamboo, lacquer, pigment, gold leaf
Provenance: Burmese antique dealer, Bagan
Period: Early 20th century

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