The Bodhisattva Collection

A Fine and Large Pair of Bronze Burmese Gongsmen

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Sculpture: Pre 1920: Item # 1047200
The Bodhisattva Collection
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New Windsor
New York

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From our Southeast Asia Collection, a fine and large pair of ornamental bronze Burmese gongsmen, early 20th century, crisply cast depicting two gongsmen carrying a large circular gong known as a "maung" suspended beneath a pole. During Burma's Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885), official announcements were made to the townspeople by a King's Representative accompanied by two gongsmen, who would customarily alert the town to their announcement by striking the maung. Later, in the subsequent era of British Colonial Rule over Burma from 1885 until Burma's independence in 1948, many British Administrators living within the country, impressed by Burma's longstanding metalsmithing traditions and expertise, would commission Burmese craftsmen to cast bronze sculptures and figurines for them to take back to Britain. This fine bronze figural group of Burmese Gongsmen is one such example, and was probably made in Pegu or Rangoon for a British official.

Size and Condition: A very sizeable (and heavy) pair at 22 inches tall, with each gongsman weighing over 20 pounds. The carrying pole for the gong is 29 inches long, and the gong itself is 10 inches in diameter. Overall condition is excellent with no damage or restoration of any kind. The bronze on the gongsmen has patinated to a nice deep brown, with some areas of rust discoloration but nothing significant. The gong itself has some green verdigris suggesting high copper content to the bronze, which is consistent with the 80% copper, 20% tin ratio that Sylvia Fraser-Lu cites as the ideal alloy ratio used in high quality resonating Burmese gongs. The gong here is fully functional, and produces a very pleasing tone.