Enquiry about object: 7429

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    Massive Burmese Silver Figurative Bowl

    Burma (Myanmar)
    circa 1910

    height: 21.3cm, diameter: approximately 35cm, weight: 2,364g



    private collection, London, UK

    This is among the largest Burmese silver bowls from the colonial era that we have seen. It is monumental. It is decorated right the way around in the highest relief possible with figurative groups that tell a narrative of princes, kings, princesses, ministers and courtiers. The relief is such that the figures seem to burst out of the bowl almost in three dimensions. Each is attired in splendid courtly dress of the mid-19th century. In all 23 figures are shown, each with delicately rendered traditional dress.

    The upper border comprises a thin register with a scrolling orchid motif. The lower border is much wider and comprises large leaves separated by stylised inverted moth motifs.

    The underside of the bowl is plain and unadorned.

    The way in which the faces of the figures have been done, the styling of the leafy scrolls and that of the headdresses and hairstyles is very similar to a large box attributed to the late 19th-early 20th century that is illustrated in Green (2022, p. 112-13). Almost certainly that box and this bowl are by the same artisan.

    Bowl is heavy, even for its size. It is in excellent condition without holes or repairs. It is monumental, decorative, and rare given its size.


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

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

    Green, A., Burmese Silver from the Colonial Period, Ad Illisvm, 2022.

    Owens, D.C., Burmese Silver Art: Masterpieces Illuminating Buddhist, Hindu and Mythological Stories of Purpose and Wisdom, Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2020.

    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.

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