Inventory no.: 2958

Burmese Lacquered Case


Unusual Gilded, Lacquered Presentation Case for the Kan Gyi Kyaung Monastery

Shan States, Eastern Burma

circa 1920

width: 42cm

This very unusual, large, pillow-like case is made of lacquer over a fine bamboo sub-structure. It is in two equal halves one of which slides part-way into the other to ‘close’ the item.

The lacquer has been decorated with gold leaf and red pigments and decorated with figures in Burmese dress amid scrolling, interlocking foliage against a cross-hatched background.

A central figure on both sides holds aloft a banner which says in Burmese script ‘Kan Gyi Kyaung Monastery’

This is a famous monastery in Nyaung Shwe near Inle Lake and in the Shan area of eastern Burma. The dedication to the monastery marks this item out as a presentation piece commissioned as a merit-earning gift. The donor would have presented the item to the monks of the monastery.

As such, the case need not have had any specific purpose. From the points of view of both donor and recipient, the purpose of donation is purpose enough. The case, however, might have been useful for storing a delicate textile.

The item is in excellent condition apart from some minor age-related scuffing here and there.


Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Lacquerware, White Orchid Books, 2000.

Isaacs, R., & T.R. Blurton,

Burma and the Art of Lacquer, River Books, 2000.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 2958