Traces of gold leaf remain on this Pagan dry lacquer Buddha head from the late 1700s. The head rests on a contemporary removable black metal stand. The dry lacquer technique, used by Burmese artisans from the mid-18th century until the beginning of the 20th century, produced finely modeled hollow images that were light in weight but very strong. The labor-intensive method involved a number of steps.
First the image was shaped from clay, then wrapped in a lacquer-soaked cloth. A pliable mixture of teak sawdust, boiled lacquer and rice glue was spread over the cloth, and features were further defined with a small knife. After the outside layer was hardened, the clay was washed away and a high-grade reddish brown lacquer was applied. The surface then was polished with stone soaked in sesame seed oil, and generally finished with gold leaf. This Pagan head was once covered with gold leaf, except for the hair. The hair is in a style referred to as durian spikes because it resembles the Southeast Asian durian melon. Areas on the face where black shows through the reddish brown lacquer occurred when the gold leaf was scraped from the image, a fairly common practice in Burma when a monastery decides to sell a Buddha figure. The finial may be a replacement because Pagan figures from the period typically had flame-shaped finials. This is a fine dry lacquer piece in very good condition. Its height on the stand: 17-1/2" (45 cm). Dimensions of head: height 13" (33 cm), width 8-1/2" (22 cm), depth 7" (18 cm). SEE MORE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTION AT WWW.SILKROAD1.COM