Inventory no.: 1500

Burmese Silver Bowl


Repoussed Silver Bowl (Thabeik)


circa 1860

height: 15cm, diamater: 21.5cm, weight: 880g

This fine Burmese thabeik silver bowl is earlier than most extant examples: the sides are less curved than most nor is the relief as high as many.

The upper border comprises a

dha-zin-gwei or stylised orchid motif.

The central frieze comprises eight panels separated by arches and columns and featuring densely and finely worked scenes from Burmese folklore. Angels, ogres and birds fill the upper niches between the scenes. A lower border comprises more scrolling foliage.

The base is elaborately engraved with an open-winged hamsa-like bird surrounded by a scrolling foliate border and with a separate, smaller field of design as well. Some feel that such designs to the bases of Burmese bowls function as the maker’s ‘signature’. We do not concur, and feel that such design is simply that.

Such bowls are said to be based on the lacquer begging bowls used by Buddhist monks in Burma. Most probably this is true but most such bowls served no religious purpose whatsoever and were commissioned by wealthy Burmese purely for their decorative value, and also for the colonial market, as testimony to the great skill of Burma’s silversmiths.

This bowl was acquired in the UK and almost certainly has been in the UK since the colonial era. It is without significant dents, splits or repairs, and has a wonderful patina consistent with its age.


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.

Inventory no.: 1500