Inventory no.: 2715

Burmese Lacquered Disciples


Gilded & Lacquered Images of the Disciples Sariputta & Moggallana


19th century

heights – both approx.: 32cm, lengths – both approx.: 26cm

This pair of the Buddha’s two chief disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, is of gilded and lacquered wood with mirrored glass inserts. The faces of each are among the best sculptured faces we have seen on such images of the two disciples. Their gazes are both inquiring and gentle. The faces and heads are particularly well modelled and clearly are Burmese. The eyes are naturalistically rendered which has been achieved with expert carving and the use of inserts of either wax or mother-of-pearl.

Sariputta sits in a position of listening with his arms resting on his upper legs. Moggallana sits with his hands pressed together in adulation. Both sit in the way of a Buddhist worshipper with their feet pointing behind them and away from the focus of veneration. Their feet rest over the ends of their robes which trail behind them.

The robes of each are highlighted with bands of moulded lacquer relief work, known as

thayo work. The lacquer thayo on the robes and heads of each disciple is inset with glass roundels backed with green foil (known as hman-zi- shwei-cha).

The two are in excellent condition for their age.

Images of the Sariputta and Moggallana often are found in Burmese artwork. Carved wooden and lacquered images were used in temples and monasteries where they were placed before images of the Buddha as part of a shrine (

hpaya khan).

See McGill (2009, p. 77) for a related example of Sariputta, and Issacs & Blurton (2000, p. 127) for a pair of disciples in the collection of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

The pair was acquired in the UK and almost certainly have been in the UK since colonial times. This accounts for their fine condition despite their obvious age.


Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.

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

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

Lowry, J.,

Burmese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1974.

McGill, F. (ed.),

Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma, 1775-1950, Asian Art Museum, 2009.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 2715


to see other Burmese items.

The of a shrine hpaya khan shrine in the Victoria & Albert Museum, showing the placement of two similar disciple figures.