Burmese Hollow Lacquer Buddha Statues
Burmese hollow lacquer Buddha statues referred to as man phaya – “man” meaning covering with a pasty substance or hnee phaya – ” hnee”, meaning made with bamboo strips.
The process of creating a Buddha image or other forms in dry lacquer is a lengthy process and can take up to three months to complete. Starting with the clay, it is kneaded and shaped into a rough form of the image, a coating of straw ash and water is then smeared over the clay image, after which a piece of cloth usually from the robe of a monk or scarf of an elder of the family is soaked in lacquer and wound around the smeared image. Thayo plaster is then applied up to half inch to one inch over this layer.
The features of the Hollow lacquer Buddha Statue are then carved into the thayo plaster with an iron implement. When the image has dried and hardened the clay is removed by washing. The mold is then cut open to remove the clay from the less accessible areas, it is then rejoined and sealed with lacquer after which another coating of lacquer plaster with straw ash is applied.
When this coating has hardened the finishing touches are applied such as smoothing, polishing, rewashing and varnishing. The preferred ornamentation such as painting, gilding or glass mosaic decoration is then applied.
The weight of these hollow lacquer Buddha statues can be very deceiving, since they can closely resemble wood Buddha statues which are much heavier.