The Bodhisattva Collection

A  Large, Published, Inscribed, Dated, Burmese Buddha

A Large, Published, Inscribed, Dated, Burmese Buddha

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Sculpture: Pre 1930: Item # 990732
The Bodhisattva Collection
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New Windsor
New York

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From our Southeast Asia Collection, an important and magnificently large, published, inscribed and dated Burmese temple Buddha, Mandalay School, constructed of fabulously carved hardwood coated in reddish-brown lacquer and gilt, depicting Buddha seated in padmasana position with his right hand in bhumisparsa mudra, elevated upon a single tier base with iron temple security rings, and bearing a raised-lacquer dedication inscription that essentially translates as follows: "Wish-fulfilling Kabalon Okshaung Pagoda, Supreme Principal of the World, Rangoon, Donated by U Ba Cho-Ma Thaung Yin and Family. May Devas and Human Beings Shout Sadhu ! B.E. 1286." (The Burmese date corresponds to 1924.)

This piece is a fantastic and rare example of genuine Burmese Mandalay School workmanship (late 19th - early 20th century), evidencing all the classic attributes one wants to see in such pieces. These include among other things, the overall proportions of the Buddha, the dome-shaped unisha, the elaborate and compelling carved rendition of the flow of the Buddha's robes, the semi-aquilinear nose, the glass inlaid hairline, the shell-inset eyes, elongated ears, as well as all the correct signs of wear and indicia of authenticity. In a market where sadly, a disturbingly high proportion of the so-called "Burmese Mandalay School" Buddhas offered for sale these days are in fact, mere reproductions, this is a highly desirable published piece with sound bonafides.

Published in Arts of Asia, May/June 1981, "Buddha Images from Burma: Part III, Wood and Lacquer," by Sylvia Fraser-Lu. When originally published in 1981, this buddha was loosely described as being "19th century." Our understanding is that the inscription had not yet been translated by Ms. Fraser-Lu at time of publication, which explains why the actual translated date is somewhat later than 19th century, ie, 1924.

A very similar piece is also published by Otto Karow in Burmese Buddhist Sculpture, the Johan Moger Collection, 1991, page 87, catalog item # 70, where that piece is described as 19th century and more importantly, he specifically cross references our buddha from Ms. Fraser-Lu’s article.

Size and Condition: This is a very large and heavy piece measuring 36 3/4 inches tall, 27 inches wide, 19 inches deep, and weighing around 75 pounds. It will require professional shipping from a specialized art and antique carrier such as Cadogan Tate, who is accustomed to shipping heavy and high value items such as this. The piece exhibits several areas of cracking which we have done our best to depict in the photos. Some of these areas do have some depth to the cracking, but none are especially serious and do not threaten the structural integrity of the piece. There is also expected wear to the gilding, some random chipping and dings to the lacquer, and rust to the temple security rings, but these too are all just commensurate with age and should be seen as indicia of age and authenticity. Overall a truly fantastic piece for high-end collectors.