Asian Antiques by Silk Road

Burmese Flying Hermit Alchemist Zaw-gyi

Burmese Flying Hermit Alchemist Zaw-gyi


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Sculpture: Pre 1910: Item # 1222465

Please refer to our stock # 63-84 when inquiring.
Silk Road Gallery
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PO Box 2175
Branford, Connecticut 06405, USA
(203) 208-0771

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 $890.00 
This teak sculpture, more than three feet tall, represents a supernatural character from ancient Burmese folklore, Zaw-gyi, who is said to possess a fantastic range of powers. Zaw-gyi is immortal, forever youthful, can fly and practices alchemy, to name just a few of his talents. He lives in solitude and strives for spiritual perfection. An important member in the region’s pantheon of superheroes prior to the arrival of Buddhism in Burma, he was solidly integrated into Buddhist iconography and has stayed around down through the centuries. Zaw-gyi is identified by his tall distinctive hat and the wing-like flare of his robe. While representations of him are no longer numerous, we have seen a few and have sold a small pair of bronze horizontal Zaw-gyi figures (see #10-28 in our archives.) On this piece, touches of gilding give a glow to the reddish brown lacquer that covers the statue. The intricate lacy swirls on the front of the hat, scarf and edging the robe are created with thayo, lacquer mixed with bone ash that dries to the hardness of wood and is used with great skill by Burmese artisans. The figure obviously held an object in his outstretched hands, and Burmese friends have told us that Zaw-gyi figures of this size were displayed in monasteries as manuscript readers, which would suggest this one probably held a kammawa-sa, a Buddhist manuscript. Since he is no longer in a monastery, he could be displayed holding a bowl, a scarf, bells or other objects (see photo enlargements #2 and #4) or just with open hands. This piece is from the late 19th/early 20th century and is in very good condition. Dimensions: height 38 ½” (98 cm), width 10” (25.5 cm), depth 9 ½” (24 cm). SEE MORE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTION AT WWW.SILKROAD1.COM