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Life-Sized Mandalay Gilded & Lacquered Wooden Standing Buddha

Mandalay, Northern Burma
19th century

height (without stand): 149.5cm, height (with stand): 169cm, width: 65cm, depth: 25cm

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UK art market

This tall, standing carved 19th century image of the Buddha is in the Mandalay style and most probably was made in that city. This example is particularly well proportioned. It is lacquered and gilded (covered in gold leaf).

The modelling is particularly naturalistic. The image is tall and slender. The face has a delightful, contemplative expression. The eyes are downcast and constructed from white and black material – shell or enamel.

There is a headband over the forehead – this is characteristic of the Mandalay style and suggestive of Thai influence. The head protuberance (usnisa) is round and even.

The outer robes (uttarasanga) flair outwards and the torso is completely covered.

The hands are in a variant of the varadamudra gesture, a gesture of benevolence.  The right hand holds between the thumb and the index finger a myrobalan fruit, believed to have medical properties, and this an allusion to the Buddha’s healing powers.

The image stands on a round, carved, wooden lotus pedestal.

The image has been decorated with moulded lacquer-work in relief (known as thayo work) and gilding (gold leaf). It has been inlaid with small pieces of glass backed with red, green and silver foil (a process known as hman-zi swei-cha).

The edges of the robes, the forehead band and so on are all decorated with rosettes and borders of mirrored glass segments.

It has not been carved as one piece. The hands for example, have been carved separately and then attached to the main image.

The image here is in fine condition. There are minor age-related losses here and there but overall, the condition is actually excellent for an image of this size and age.

It stands on a black wooden stand.

See Fraser-Lu & Stadtner (2015, p. 168), Karow (1991, p. 71) for related images.


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

Fraser-Lu, S., & D.M. Stadtner, Buddhist Art of Myanmar, Asia Society Museum, 2015.

Green, A., (ed.), Eclectic Collecting: Art from Burma in the Denison Museum, NUS Press, 2008.

Isaacs, R., & T.R. Blurton, Burma and the Art of Lacquer, River Books, 2000.

Karow, O., Burmese Buddhist Sculpture: The Johan Moger Collection, White Lotus, 1991.

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