AGE: – 19th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Wood
DESCRIPTION: – Antique Burmese Wooden Nat Spirit – Age related wear to paint
HEIGHT: – 66cm
WIDTH: – 21cm
DEPTH: – 21cm
WEIGHT: – 3.85 kg.
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This Antique Burmese wooden Nat spirit is one of the 37 Nat spirits worshiped by the people of Myanmar. Before Theravada Buddhism was introduced by King Anawrahta in the 11th century Nat and spirit cult was the traditional form of worship among the people of Burma. Up until present times it still plays a part in the lives of many Burmese and coexists alongside Buddhism.
Historical records show that Nat worship was accepted by King Anawrahta a devout Buddhist of the Theravada school around the year 1044 A.D. To strengthen and unite the religious beliefs of his people and in his endeavors to strengthen the Buddhist faith he accepted Nat and spirit worship by including 37 Nats. Each Nat listed in order of importance.
The highest rank given to Indra or Thagyamin representing the Celestial King of the Gods.
There are several ranks of Nats in Myanmar (formerly Burma), some have royal status and some are of a high ranking status, some are those of ordinary people and others are peasants. It is thought that the 37 Nats spirits are made up of those who have passed away, they could be someone who has done a good deed during his lifetime or a hero of his time. Some nats were those that were sacrificed in royal rituals and those who met violent deaths.
There are several references and studies done on Nat cults in Burma, each with varying views on the involvement of the thirty seven Nats recognized today.