The Bodhisattva Collection

A Very Fine Burmese Silver Alms Bowl, 19th Century


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Metalwork: Pre 1900: Item # 941901
The Bodhisattva Collection
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From our Southeast Asia Collection, a very fine Burmese silver alms-style bowl, late 19th century, extremely well-executed in deep repousse technique with a continuous scene of thirteen figures depicting an episode from the Burmese Jataka Tales (previous lives of the Buddha), bordered on top by a row of maw-pan floral scrolls incorporating seven chin-thei (Burmese buddhist lions), and bordered on the bottom by a row of stylized acanthus leaves.

Despite the continued political and economic isolation of Burma in the world community, there is a surprising amount of "antique" Burmese silverware that has appeared on the market in recent years. Unfortunately, many of these pieces are only mid-20th century being passed-off as 19th century, tend to be of low and middle-tier quality, and are not fully representative of the true brilliance of the old school 19th century Burmese silversmiths. But this is a genuinely older piece, and in terms of the technical merit of the silversmithing alone, the workmanship of this bowl is second to none. Draw your attention to the facial realism and animation of each and every figure, the details of their garments, and the painstakingly sharp and intricate execution of all the border motifs. The repousse is especially deep and proficient here, with most figures extending 3/4 to one full inch out from the body of the bowl. We have been fortunate to see in person some of the amazing silver masterpieces on display in the national museum in Yangon. There are many astoundingly elaborate and beautiful forms that were made for Burmese royalty and the wealthy British elite, and of course, such pieces are beyond reach of the collector community. But at least in terms of the quality of the repousse and chasing work, the work here is still as equally fine.

Size and Condition: A sizable piece at 8 1/4 inches tall, 7 1/2 inches diameter at rim, 8 1/2 inches diameter at widest part of body, and weighing just shy of 3 pounds. Perfect condition, and with a good patina commensurate with age.