Antique Burmese Bronze Buddha Statues
Antique Burmese Bronze Buddha Statues in Myanmar – Over the past millennia the method of casting Buddha images using the lost wax process hasn’t changed a great deal, although modern tools are taking the place of the traditional tools that were once used.
In earlier times when casting a Buddha statue precious metals were often added to the mix of copper and tin in reverence to the Buddha, then gilded. Today Buddha statues are often decorated with gold leaf or gold foil. These days the bronze alloy is made up of just two ingredients 4 parts of tin to 6 parts copper.
The main centre for bronze casting in Myanmar during the Konbaung dynasty was the area of Ywa-taung in the Sagain region (Ava period 1752 A.D.-1885 A.D.) After the fall of Ava many of these workshops moved to Mandalay where the casting of bronze Buddha statues is today a thriving industry.
Bronze casting in Myanmar dates back more than 3,000 years. Objects that have been discovered in some of the old Pyu and Mon sites include small goddess mother figures and bronze ornaments, thought to be funerary objects. Other finds include bronze spears, axes, weights and coins. Many of these finds have been dug up around the Pyu sites in Srikshetra and Beikthano.
Although Buddhist monasteries have been unearthed on these ancient sites no bronze Buddhist sculptures have been found in Beikthano. Buddhist iconography at the Pyu site at Srikshetra and Halin have however unearthed some sculptures related to the Mahayana school of Buddhism with Tantric influences which was introduced into Burma through Northern India from the 1st or 2nd century.
Historical records show that from Pagan times bronze Buddha statues were often placed inside stupas or temple walls, not as a means of hiding them but more so to give merit to the donor. Many that have survived are still in relatively good condition due to the protection given whilst encased in these structures.
Some of the finest bronze Buddha statues come from Burma and are made in many different styles such as the Ava, Jambhupati crowned Buddha statue, Shan and Mandalay style Buddha statue.