Burmese craftsman over the millennia have perfected the art of sculpting Buddha statues from many different types of materials. The most popular being wood, bronze, alabaster, marble and the not so common light and durable hollow lacquer Buddha statues, which are often under appreciated, considering that they take several months to complete. Hollow Lacquer Buddha statues are light and often times can be mistaken for wooden Buddha statues.
Buddha statues in Burma are made in many different sizes with some just a few centimeters in height to several meters in height or length, and all sizes in between. The Burmese style Buddha statues are frequently embellished with thayo lacquer decoration, glass mosaics and often gilded.
In all monasteries and pagoda’s throughout Burma, now referred to as Myanmar, you will see many Buddha statues. Each monastery houses several Buddha statues. The most common is the Buddha seated in the lotus position (crossed legged) with soles upraised resting on the thighs. This posture is referred to as the virasana posture, usually with the right leg crossed over the left.
Of the 37 mudras the most common hand gestures found in the Myanmar Buddha statue is the Bhumisparsa Mudra, “earth touching position”, depicting his moment of enlightenment when he called the earth to witness. The left hand rests in the lap with the palm facing upwards and the right hand bent over the right knee.
The Abhaya mudra, although not as common as the Bhumisparsa mudra is the second most popular mudra in the Burmese Buddha statue. This mudra signifies the gesture of reassurance and protection, whereby the right hand is held upright with fingers extended and palm facing outwards.
Articles Burmese Buddha Statues
All images presented in the article are contributed by the authors James and Deborah Finch.
Mr Finch is a lawyer, practicing in Burma and has lived in Burma with his family for approximately ten years. He has completed his thesis, on the “Sacred art of Burma”, and will shortly receive his PhD in art history.
Maha Muni Buddha statue is a colossal image cast in bronze and inlaid with gold. Hence, this statue became the envy of almost all of the kings of Burma. Whenever they expanded their empire, they tried to rob this holy image. Finally in the year 1784 A.D, the Burmese King Bodawphaya1 succeeded to annex Arakan into the Burmese Empire and took the holy image.
By Charlotte Kendrick Galloway
An Interesting explanation and history of the Dry lacquer technique
A collection of antique Buddha statues from the late Doris Duke Southeast Art Collection. A collection that spanned a sixty year period from 1935 until 1992.
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Religious images dominate the surviving art of the great periods of South Asian sculpture, from the second century B.C. to about A.D. 1500. What remains are stone temples, stone and metal temple sculpture, and smaller religious sculpture created for personal worship