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{"id":5514908827798,"title":"Antique Burmese Silver Figural Table Box, Lower Burma (Myanmar) - Mid 19th Century","handle":"antique-burmese-silver-figural-table-box-lower-burma-myanmar-mid-19th-century","description":"\u003cp\u003eThis finely crafted antique Burmese silver figural table box is a magnificent example of fine Burmese silverwork.  The very high quality of the craftsmanship suggests that it was an extremely important commission, or it may possibly have been made for an exhibition.  The form of the box is very complex, as is the ornamentation, which is in the traditional Burmese style of the mid-nineteenth century.  The silversmith has used repousse, chasing and hand piercing techniques.  In fashioning this box, the craftsman has not only demonstrated his technical mastery of the medium, but also his design skills, creativity and artistic sensibility.  The ornamentation to the borders is deep, precisely executed and very crisp, which has created a luxuriant richness.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe seven figural panels are charming, full of character and highly detailed.  There are an amazing thirty-eight human figures which have been finely rendered with great sensitivity and expression. They are active not static. The silversmith has paid great attention to contrast within the composition and he has achieved a very pleasing balance, which makes this wonderful table box a visual and tactile delight.  Although unsigned, it is obvious that this was made by a master craftsman, probably in Moulmein, where the depiction of these small- scale figures was a speciality.  The lack of a signature or pictorial device on an object of such quality supports the mid-19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century date, as it was rare for Burmese silversmiths to ‘sign’ their work with a written signature or a pictorial device at this time. Moulmein was the capital of British Burma from 1826 – 1852. This box would probably have been made for a British member of the European ex-patriot community living in British Burma.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThere are seven panels depicting figural scenes: one to the cover, one on each of the two short sides and two on each of the two longer sides. The box stands on four decorative shell shaped feet, each flanked by decorative hand cut and pierced. scrolling foliate brackets.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe figural scenes show aspects of court life, inside and outside of the palace.  The scenes have parallels with stories from the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Gautama Buddha.  It is therefore difficult to judge whether these images are intended to represent aspects of the Buddha’s own life or contemporary Burmese court life, as events such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, were enacted in Burma and many South East Asian countries, and would be relevant in either interpretation. On balance, we believe it is most likely that all the scenes refer to events in the Life of the Buddha.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOne of the panels to the short ends shows a Prince standing in a conveyance over a plough and holding the reins of two oxen (which were traditionally white) with two armed male attendants following him.  The scene to the opposite end is thought to depict Prince Siddhartha leaping over the river Anoma on his horse.  The scene to the cover illustrates ‘The Princes Tonsure’, another episode from the Life of the Buddha, where the seated Prince is just about to cut off his long hair which was caught by Sakka.  Afterwards, he was offered the eight requisites of a monk which were presented to him by two Gods; one holding a gilded casket topped by gilded flowers and the other a circular alms bowl.  In the figural scene here, the alms bowl is clearly visible and many of his eight attendants are holding things, possibly gifts. The small flower to the central front may also reference the gilded flowers on the casket which was given to the Buddha, which were said to come from the mythical padesa tree.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe scene to front and left facing, shows the King surrounded by courtiers sitting on a throne or raised dais inside his palace and dictating to the scribe in front of him who is writing.  To the right is a scene of the King out hunting.  He has just spotted his prey and gestured his followers to stop. He is reaching back for his weapon which is being carried by an attendant.  The other members of the party huddle together, craning their necks and looking towards the distant hills as they try to see what has caught the king’s eye.  A boy with long hair is one of the party, probably Prince Siddhartha.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe panels to the back of the box show scenes of family life within a royal household.  The scene to the left might refer to the Prince learning that his son has been born, and meeting the child, shortly before he leaves to find enlightenment. The scene to the right probably illustrates the story of the Prince going to visit his wife and sleeping baby, gently pulling back the bed covers and kissing them goodbye without waking them, before he leaves to become a monk. If you look very carefully, there is another small face behind and to upper left of the figure on the bed.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box is of a rectangular cruciform shape, which draws on the Christian European decorative tradition and derives from the shape of a Christian quadrate cross.  This cross has a square at the intersection point, which served as a reminder of the four Gospels going out to the four corners of the earth. The number four also represented the earth, so the shape of the cross also signified that Christ died on the cross to save the world from its sins.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe longest sides have gently rounded corners which stop before meeting the shorter sides which are similarly rounded at the corners.  The corner sections are recessed and right angled, providing interest and contrast as they form the link between the short and long sides. The very strong emphatic horizontal lines created by the stepped borders to the edge of the cover, are echoed to the lower part of the container, provide a counterpoint for, and drawing attention to, the softer lines and features such as the curved edges of the panels, the fluid shape of the feet and the curvaceous frames of the reflective cartouches which wrap around the corners; Working together, they create balance and hold the interest.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:-  \u003c\/em\u003eUK Antiques Trade\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-  \u003c\/em\u003eHeight 7.5 cms; Width 15.4 cms; Depth 8 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-  \u003c\/em\u003e        328 grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHarry L. Tilly, The Silverwork of Burma by with photographs by P Klier, Rangoon 1902\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHarry L. Tilly, Modern Burmese Silverwork, Superintendent, Government Printing, Rangoon, Burma; 1st edition (1904)\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947: Decorative Silver from the Indian Sub-Continent and Burma Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, page 36, W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Mary-Louise Wilkinson and Barbara Harding, Burmese Silver from the Colonial Period, Arts of Asia, May-June 2013\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886, Official Catalogue, page 64, William Clowes and Sons Limited, London London, 1886\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003ePatricia M Herbert, The Life of the Buddha, San Francisco, Pomegranate [London], in association with British Library, ©2005. \u003c\/p\u003e","published_at":"2020-09-03T12:56:33+01:00","created_at":"2020-07-23T09:31:12+01:00","vendor":"Joseph Cohen Antiques","type":"Figural Table 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finely crafted antique Burmese silver figural table box is a magnificent example of fine Burmese silverwork.  The very high quality of the craftsmanship suggests that it was an extremely important commission, or it may possibly have been made for an exhibition.  The form of the box is very complex, as is the ornamentation, which is in the traditional Burmese style of the mid-nineteenth century.  The silversmith has used repousse, chasing and hand piercing techniques.  In fashioning this box, the craftsman has not only demonstrated his technical mastery of the medium, but also his design skills, creativity and artistic sensibility.  The ornamentation to the borders is deep, precisely executed and very crisp, which has created a luxuriant richness.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe seven figural panels are charming, full of character and highly detailed.  There are an amazing thirty-eight human figures which have been finely rendered with great sensitivity and expression. They are active not static. The silversmith has paid great attention to contrast within the composition and he has achieved a very pleasing balance, which makes this wonderful table box a visual and tactile delight.  Although unsigned, it is obvious that this was made by a master craftsman, probably in Moulmein, where the depiction of these small- scale figures was a speciality.  The lack of a signature or pictorial device on an object of such quality supports the mid-19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century date, as it was rare for Burmese silversmiths to ‘sign’ their work with a written signature or a pictorial device at this time. Moulmein was the capital of British Burma from 1826 – 1852. This box would probably have been made for a British member of the European ex-patriot community living in British Burma.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThere are seven panels depicting figural scenes: one to the cover, one on each of the two short sides and two on each of the two longer sides. The box stands on four decorative shell shaped feet, each flanked by decorative hand cut and pierced. scrolling foliate brackets.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe figural scenes show aspects of court life, inside and outside of the palace.  The scenes have parallels with stories from the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Gautama Buddha.  It is therefore difficult to judge whether these images are intended to represent aspects of the Buddha’s own life or contemporary Burmese court life, as events such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, were enacted in Burma and many South East Asian countries, and would be relevant in either interpretation. On balance, we believe it is most likely that all the scenes refer to events in the Life of the Buddha.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOne of the panels to the short ends shows a Prince standing in a conveyance over a plough and holding the reins of two oxen (which were traditionally white) with two armed male attendants following him.  The scene to the opposite end is thought to depict Prince Siddhartha leaping over the river Anoma on his horse.  The scene to the cover illustrates ‘The Princes Tonsure’, another episode from the Life of the Buddha, where the seated Prince is just about to cut off his long hair which was caught by Sakka.  Afterwards, he was offered the eight requisites of a monk which were presented to him by two Gods; one holding a gilded casket topped by gilded flowers and the other a circular alms bowl.  In the figural scene here, the alms bowl is clearly visible and many of his eight attendants are holding things, possibly gifts. The small flower to the central front may also reference the gilded flowers on the casket which was given to the Buddha, which were said to come from the mythical padesa tree.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe scene to front and left facing, shows the King surrounded by courtiers sitting on a throne or raised dais inside his palace and dictating to the scribe in front of him who is writing.  To the right is a scene of the King out hunting.  He has just spotted his prey and gestured his followers to stop. He is reaching back for his weapon which is being carried by an attendant.  The other members of the party huddle together, craning their necks and looking towards the distant hills as they try to see what has caught the king’s eye.  A boy with long hair is one of the party, probably Prince Siddhartha.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe panels to the back of the box show scenes of family life within a royal household.  The scene to the left might refer to the Prince learning that his son has been born, and meeting the child, shortly before he leaves to find enlightenment. The scene to the right probably illustrates the story of the Prince going to visit his wife and sleeping baby, gently pulling back the bed covers and kissing them goodbye without waking them, before he leaves to become a monk. If you look very carefully, there is another small face behind and to upper left of the figure on the bed.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box is of a rectangular cruciform shape, which draws on the Christian European decorative tradition and derives from the shape of a Christian quadrate cross.  This cross has a square at the intersection point, which served as a reminder of the four Gospels going out to the four corners of the earth. The number four also represented the earth, so the shape of the cross also signified that Christ died on the cross to save the world from its sins.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe longest sides have gently rounded corners which stop before meeting the shorter sides which are similarly rounded at the corners.  The corner sections are recessed and right angled, providing interest and contrast as they form the link between the short and long sides. The very strong emphatic horizontal lines created by the stepped borders to the edge of the cover, are echoed to the lower part of the container, provide a counterpoint for, and drawing attention to, the softer lines and features such as the curved edges of the panels, the fluid shape of the feet and the curvaceous frames of the reflective cartouches which wrap around the corners; Working together, they create balance and hold the interest.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:-  \u003c\/em\u003eUK Antiques Trade\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-  \u003c\/em\u003eHeight 7.5 cms; Width 15.4 cms; Depth 8 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-  \u003c\/em\u003e        328 grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHarry L. Tilly, The Silverwork of Burma by with photographs by P Klier, Rangoon 1902\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHarry L. Tilly, Modern Burmese Silverwork, Superintendent, Government Printing, Rangoon, Burma; 1st edition (1904)\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947: Decorative Silver from the Indian Sub-Continent and Burma Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, page 36, W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Mary-Louise Wilkinson and Barbara Harding, Burmese Silver from the Colonial Period, Arts of Asia, May-June 2013\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886, Official Catalogue, page 64, William Clowes and Sons Limited, London London, 1886\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003ePatricia M Herbert, The Life of the Buddha, San Francisco, Pomegranate [London], in association with British Library, ©2005. \u003c\/p\u003e"}

Antique Burmese Silver Figural Table Box, Lower Burma (Myanmar) - Mid 19th Century

Product Description

This finely crafted antique Burmese silver figural table box is a magnificent example of fine Burmese silverwork.  The very high quality of the craftsmanship suggests that it was an extremely important commission, or it may possibly have been made for an exhibition.  The form of the box is very complex, as is the ornamentation, which is in the traditional Burmese style of the mid-nineteenth century.  The silversmith has used repousse, chasing and hand piercing techniques.  In fashioning this box, the craftsman has not only demonstrated his technical mastery of the medium, but also his design skills, creativity and artistic sensibility.  The ornamentation to the borders is deep, precisely executed and very crisp, which has created a luxuriant richness.  

The seven figural panels are charming, full of character and highly detailed.  There are an amazing thirty-eight human figures which have been finely rendered with great sensitivity and expression. They are active not static. The silversmith has paid great attention to contrast within the composition and he has achieved a very pleasing balance, which makes this wonderful table box a visual and tactile delight.  Although unsigned, it is obvious that this was made by a master craftsman, probably in Moulmein, where the depiction of these small- scale figures was a speciality.  The lack of a signature or pictorial device on an object of such quality supports the mid-19th century date, as it was rare for Burmese silversmiths to ‘sign’ their work with a written signature or a pictorial device at this time. Moulmein was the capital of British Burma from 1826 – 1852. This box would probably have been made for a British member of the European ex-patriot community living in British Burma.

There are seven panels depicting figural scenes: one to the cover, one on each of the two short sides and two on each of the two longer sides. The box stands on four decorative shell shaped feet, each flanked by decorative hand cut and pierced. scrolling foliate brackets.

The figural scenes show aspects of court life, inside and outside of the palace.  The scenes have parallels with stories from the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Gautama Buddha.  It is therefore difficult to judge whether these images are intended to represent aspects of the Buddha’s own life or contemporary Burmese court life, as events such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, were enacted in Burma and many South East Asian countries, and would be relevant in either interpretation. On balance, we believe it is most likely that all the scenes refer to events in the Life of the Buddha.

One of the panels to the short ends shows a Prince standing in a conveyance over a plough and holding the reins of two oxen (which were traditionally white) with two armed male attendants following him.  The scene to the opposite end is thought to depict Prince Siddhartha leaping over the river Anoma on his horse.  The scene to the cover illustrates ‘The Princes Tonsure’, another episode from the Life of the Buddha, where the seated Prince is just about to cut off his long hair which was caught by Sakka.  Afterwards, he was offered the eight requisites of a monk which were presented to him by two Gods; one holding a gilded casket topped by gilded flowers and the other a circular alms bowl.  In the figural scene here, the alms bowl is clearly visible and many of his eight attendants are holding things, possibly gifts. The small flower to the central front may also reference the gilded flowers on the casket which was given to the Buddha, which were said to come from the mythical padesa tree.

The scene to front and left facing, shows the King surrounded by courtiers sitting on a throne or raised dais inside his palace and dictating to the scribe in front of him who is writing.  To the right is a scene of the King out hunting.  He has just spotted his prey and gestured his followers to stop. He is reaching back for his weapon which is being carried by an attendant.  The other members of the party huddle together, craning their necks and looking towards the distant hills as they try to see what has caught the king’s eye.  A boy with long hair is one of the party, probably Prince Siddhartha.  

The panels to the back of the box show scenes of family life within a royal household.  The scene to the left might refer to the Prince learning that his son has been born, and meeting the child, shortly before he leaves to find enlightenment. The scene to the right probably illustrates the story of the Prince going to visit his wife and sleeping baby, gently pulling back the bed covers and kissing them goodbye without waking them, before he leaves to become a monk. If you look very carefully, there is another small face behind and to upper left of the figure on the bed.

The box is of a rectangular cruciform shape, which draws on the Christian European decorative tradition and derives from the shape of a Christian quadrate cross.  This cross has a square at the intersection point, which served as a reminder of the four Gospels going out to the four corners of the earth. The number four also represented the earth, so the shape of the cross also signified that Christ died on the cross to save the world from its sins.

The longest sides have gently rounded corners which stop before meeting the shorter sides which are similarly rounded at the corners.  The corner sections are recessed and right angled, providing interest and contrast as they form the link between the short and long sides. The very strong emphatic horizontal lines created by the stepped borders to the edge of the cover, are echoed to the lower part of the container, provide a counterpoint for, and drawing attention to, the softer lines and features such as the curved edges of the panels, the fluid shape of the feet and the curvaceous frames of the reflective cartouches which wrap around the corners; Working together, they create balance and hold the interest.

Provenance:-  UK Antiques Trade

Dimensions:-  Height 7.5 cms; Width 15.4 cms; Depth 8 cms

Weight:-          328 grammes

References:-

Harry L. Tilly, The Silverwork of Burma by with photographs by P Klier, Rangoon 1902

Harry L. Tilly, Modern Burmese Silverwork, Superintendent, Government Printing, Rangoon, Burma; 1st edition (1904)

Wynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947: Decorative Silver from the Indian Sub-Continent and Burma Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, page 36, W Wilkinson & Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997

Wynyard R T Wilkinson, Mary-Louise Wilkinson and Barbara Harding, Burmese Silver from the Colonial Period, Arts of Asia, May-June 2013

The Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886, Official Catalogue, page 64, William Clowes and Sons Limited, London London, 1886

Patricia M Herbert, The Life of the Buddha, San Francisco, Pomegranate [London], in association with British Library, ©2005. 

£4,250.00
Maximum quantity available reached.

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