Inventory no.: 3597

Burmese Silver Bowl


Repoussed Silver Bowl


late 19th century

diameter: 17cm, height: 12cm, weight: 569g

This fine Burmese thabeik silver bowl is of solid silver that has been repoussed in high relief with scenes from a courtly legend. There are fifteen figures in total, each in traditional Burmese dress, including representations of the king, a queen and at least one minister.

The upper border comprises a thin line of stylised petal motifs. The lower frieze is of a wide border of stylised acanthus leaf motifs.

The base is engraved with a central, small flower motif.

The shape of such bowls is based on the monk’s begging bowl, although ironically, Burmese monks are prohibited from touching gold or silver. Accordingly, Burmese silversmiths did not use their skills on religious objects unlike silversmiths in other Buddhist lands such as Tibet or Sri Lanka.

Such bowls were commissioned for decorative purposes only. Often they were presented to mark some important event, either between Burmese and colonial administrators or between wealthier Burmese themselves.

The bowl was acquired by F.S. Copleston, the first Chief Judge of Lower Burma, a position that was created in 1900. However, Copleston was already in Burma at that time and had been so since the 1880s in various other colonial administrative roles. Nevertheless, this provenance is helpful for dating the bowl.

The bow is in fine condition and is with dents, splits or repairs.


Fraser-Lu, S., Silverware of South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Fraser-Lu, S.,

Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Tilly, H.L.,

The Silverwork of Burma (with Photographs by P. Klier), The Superintendent, Government Printing, 1902.

Tilly, H.L.,

Modern Burmese Silverwork (with Photographs by P. Klier), The Superintendent, Government Printing, 1904.


F.S. Copleston, former Chief Judge pf Lower Burma, and his son, F.C Copleston, Emeritus Professor of History, University of London, thence by descent.

Inventory no.: 3597