There are two periods from which the Burmese Buddha Statue in the Mandalay Style evolved, “Early Mandalay period from 1853 – 1885 A.D.”, and “Post Mandalay period from 1885 – 1945 A.D.”
Burmese Buddha Statues – Mandalay style are mostly shown with heavily folded and tiered lapel and monk robe, with glass mosaic inlay and Thayo lacquer decoration intricately worked in scrolls around the edges of the robe, often the body, face and hands are fully gilded. Eyes are set far apart with a flat band high on the forehead running from ear to ear.
Burmese Buddha Statue Mandalay Style
From the early Mandalay period Buddha statues emerged in both seated and standing positions with the most popular hand gesture in the seated position Bhumisparsa Mudra, referred to as “touching earth”, symbolizing the Buddha’s enlightenment after his defeat of Mara when he called mother earth to bear witness to his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
The demon Mara in her endeavors to distract the Buddha from attaining enlightenment tried to seduce him with visions of her beautiful daughters. Scenes depicting this great event in the life of the Buddha are frequently seen in Buddhist iconography, wall murals and paintings.
Mandalay standing images in Burma are most often seen with the hand gesture in Abhaya Mudra, with either the left or the right arm bent at the elbow and the palm facing outwards. Abhaya mudra symbolizes protection, peace or fear not.
Most of the newly crafted images in Myanmar today are crafted in standing, seated or reclining positions.
Mandalay Buddha statues owe much of its evolution to the influence of the Thai Buddha statues. Craftsmen from Thailand were brought in to Burma in large numbers in the mid 1700’s for their expert carving skills. These craftsmen implemented their own styles into the sculptures they created with a mix of Ayutthaya and Arakan styles, thus the Mandalay Buddha evolved into its own unique style.