Asian Antiques by Silk Road

Burmese Lacquer Zodiac Signs Box

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre 1910: Item # 1066740

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A lacquer box from early 20th century Burma has intricate drawings of the 12 Burmese zodiac signs incised around the container, and eight cardinal signs for the days of the week around on the top of the lid. Also on the lid are two inscriptions in Burmese, one with the wish “be rich” and the other “be healthy.” The eight signs for the days of the week reflect the Burmese custom of using two signs for Wednesday, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The 12 Burmese astrological signs for months are the same as those used in the West—Leo for August, Virgo for September and so on. A similar Burmese lacquer box is pictured in “Burmese Crafts Past and Present” by Sylvia Fraser-Lu, Oxford University Press, color plate 42. The same book has further information about the signs for days of the week on page 235, and about Burmese astrology signs for the months on page 237. This box is outfitted with two trays, both decorated in the yun technique also used on the container’s sides and lid. The yun method involves incising the designs and creating a multi-colored pattern by cutting through layers of various colors of lacquer—in the case of this box, black, red, yellow and green. This box was used to store betel leaves, areca nut, spices and other ingredients needed for assembling a quid of betel. The hat box design, with its deep, closely fitted lid, kept the ingredients fresh. When offered to guests, the ingredients were arranged in trays set next to the deep container holding the leaves, thereby displaying the colorful designs on all four parts of the box. All the parts of this container are in excellent condition. Dimensions: height 8 ¾” (22 cm), diameter 9” (23 cm). SEE MORE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTION AT WWW.SILKROAD1.COM