Burmese Buddha Statues – Shan Style
Burmese Buddha Statues – Shan Style – The Shan State in Myanmar (formerly Burma) is the biggest state in the country occupying around a quarter of the total area of the country. The Shan state shares a border with China, Laos and Thailand and consists of a variety of ethnic groups.
Each of these ethnic groups has developed their own unique style of Buddhist imagery. Some Shan Buddha statues are in the Jambhupati style, an adaptation of the Arakan style Buddha image seen dressed in royal attire from the Rakhine state in Myanmar.
The Ava style usually shows the Buddha image with a large Usnisha and finial and often with large disproportionate flange-like ears. The Pinya style often shows the Buddha statue with his robe draped over the right shoulder. The most decorative Shan Buddha image is that of the Tai Yai style, fully gilded and decorated with thayo lacquer and glass mosaics. The Pagan Buddha image dating from the 9th – 13th Century shows the Buddha dressed in simple monk robes with an elfin like face without any embellishments.
The Shan also referred to as Tai people originated from Yunnan in the Southern part of China. When Kublai Khan invaded Pagan (now referred to as Bagan) in the 13th Century the Shan were close on their heals. The Shan people migrated into Laos, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam and India. The Shan established the Ava and Pinya dynasty and during this time conquered parts of the west and south of Burma.
Two of the most famous Shan leaders Sao Hsam Long Hpa and Sao Hso Hkam Hpa were two brothers from Yunnan province, together they formed the Mao Shan Kingdom until it was overtaken by the Ming court. This led to the Shans venturing into neighbouring countries. The final destruction in 1604 of the Shan in China also weakened the Shan powers in Burma, where there they disintegrated into small Shan groups and today can be found in parts of Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Thailand and India.