Repoussed Silver Bowl (Thabeik)
diameter: 20.5cm, height: 12.8cm, weight: 921g
This fine Burmese thabeik silver bowl is unusual in that rather than showing scenes from tradition Burmese legends or from the Jatarka stories (stories of the past lives of the Buddha) it shows scenes associated with rice growing and harvesting. Six scenes show ploughing with buffaloes, rice planting, rice harvesting, pounding rice, a traditional Burmese buffalo driven cart that presumably is carrying rice, and a traditional Burmese sailing vessel on a river which also is presumably carrying rice. These scenes are separated by thin pairs of stalks which cross over one another and are topped by pendant foliage and blooms, between which are peacock motifs.
The upper border comprises a chased flow of
dha-zin-gwei or stylised orchid motifs. The lower border is wide and incorporates pairs of Burmese mythical dog creatures separated by crows.
The base is engraved with a simple 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.
Overall, this bowl is an unusual example of a colonial Burmese bowl. It was acquired in the UK and most probably has been in the UK since the colonial era. It is without dents, splits or repairs.
Fraser-Lu, S., Silverware of South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1989.
Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.
The Silverwork of Burma (with Photographs by P. Klier), The Superintendent, Government Printing, 1902.
Modern Burmese Silverwork (with Photographs by P. Klier), The Superintendent, Government Printing, 1904.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 2652