Asian Antiques by Silk Road

Burmese Manuscript Chest With Jataka Scenes

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Lacquer: Pre 1920: Item # 687835

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Finely modeled scenes from the "Jataka," stories of important events in the life of the Buddha, cover the lid and three sides of this "sadaik," or manuscript chest, from a Burmese monastery. (See similar chests in an article in "Arts of Asia" magazine, May-June 2013 issue, page 82, by Sylvia Fraser-Lu, with detailed information on Jataka stories depicted on manuscript chests.) The lid on this chest shows two scenes especially revered in Burma: The first is a compelling representation of the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree at the moment of enlightenment; the second is the earth goddess, Wathundaye, wringing water out of her hair to drown an evil spirit riding on an elephant, sent to distract the Buddha. The front panel depicts an encounter between a hunter (possibly King Piliyakkha) and a Naga, a dragon-like serpent beloved for saving the Buddha from lightning as he sat under the Bodhi tree. Each side panel depicts a fierce demon who is there to protect the contents of the box. The scenes are modeled in thayo, a mixture of lacquer and bone ash expertly used by Burmese artisans to create complex designs that, when dried, become harder than wood. Buddhist manuscripts were stored in such chests, frequently decorated with scenes from the Jataka and kept in monasteries. The inside compartments are carved with flowers and other decorative detailing, on display when the top was propped open using the two side compartment lids. Constructed of heavy teak wood, this early 20th century Burmese sadaik is in very good condition. Dimensions: height 11-1/2" (29 cm), width 20" (51 cm), depth 11-1/2" (29 cm). (SEE MORE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTION AT WWW.SILKROAD1.COM)