Asian Antiques by Silk Road

Burmese Lacquer Hsun-ok Offering Bowl

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre 1900: Item # 1106224

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This 19th century Burmese lacquer offering bowl, called a hsun-ok, differs in size from the typical spired vessels used to carry offerings of food to Burma’s Buddhist monasteries. This one is smaller—20 inches in height and 9 inches in diameter, while the average size of a hsun-ok is about 30 inches tall and 15 inches in diameter. With its dramatic shape and intense red hue, it is every bit the same compelling cultural artifact as its larger brothers, and hsun-ok offering vessels in this small size are relatively rare. The spire on the top of the lid echoes the shape of the towering spires on Buddhist pagodas in Burma (now called Myanmar). Made of lacquer over wood and coiled bamboo, this container originated in Pagan, the most revered lacquerware center in Burma. Many coats of lacquer, first black, then multiple coats of red, were applied over the wood and coiled bamboo, with each application requiring a day or more of drying time in a dustfree, underground area. This container shows evidence of particularly heavy use in the way the red lacquer is worn away in many places to reveal the black undercoat, creating a nice negoro effect. It most likely was a prized possession of a devout family who each day filled the bowl with rice and carried it through the streets to the local monastery. Expert restoration has stabilized two cracks on the lid and one on the base (see photo enlargement #3). Dimensions: height 20” (50.8 cm), diameter 9” (22.9 cm).