Gilded & Lacquered Covered Pedestal Bowl
height: 57cm, diameter: 25.5cm
This pleasing stand and cover are decorated in a technique known as shewi-zawa (also spelt as shwezawa work) work, whereby the surface of the box is prepared with a number of coats of raw lacquer mixed with finely powdered black ash. Once the layers are dry, the craftsman uses a pen with a fine point, to draw an outline of the decoration to be shown on the surface, using a mixture of pigment and gum. A thick layer of lacquer is painted onto the remaining parts of the surface. Gold leaf is then applied to this to complete the black and gold design.
The form of the vessel is architectural: the foot, bowl and cover all have six sides, and the ensemble is surmounted by a dramatic spire reminiscent of that found on a Burmese stupa. The motifs employed in the lacquerwork include small human figures, animals (mythical and otherwise) all among scrolling foliage.
The lacquerwork is of the type shown on a large Shan pedestal bowl illustrated in Conway (2006, p. 159). And see Than Htun (2013, 59) for a plate with similar
The bowl is based on a traditional offering stand (
hsun-ok) but given that it is decorated with delicate shwe-zawa work, it would not have been intended for use but to be ornamental.
The item has rubbing here and there and some minor losses but otherwise is in fine condition.
Conway, S., The Shan: Culture, Arts & Crafts, River Books, 2006.
Fraser-Lu, S., ‘Sadaik: Burmese manuscript chests’, in
Arts of Asia, May-June 1984.
Than Htun (Dedaye),
Lacquerware Journeys: The Untold Story of Burmese Lacquer, River Books, 2013.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 2665