AGE: – Late 19th – Early 20th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Teak Wood
DESCRIPTION: – Burmese Nat Spirit Min Gyi – would have originally been painted with natural colours but has been gold leafed. Age related wear. (see pictures)
HEIGHT: – 66cm
WIDTH: – 20cm
DEPTH: – 16cm
WEIGHT: – 5.3 kg.
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Burmese Nat Spirit Min Gyi and his brother Min Lay are Burmese mythological Nat spirits popularly known as the Taungbyone brothers. The story of these two brothers date back to the 11th century when they were chosen to be two of the main pantheon of 37 Nats by King Anawrahta of Pagan when endeavoring to establish the Theravada school of Buddhist as the dominant religion of Myanmar.
Accepting thirty seven official Nats subordinate to the Buddha has resulted in a unique blend of Buddhism and Nat worship which is still evident in present day Myanmar.
A festival on Mount Popa each year in March celebrates the two brothers. Mount Popa and Taungkalat monastery is built on top of an extinct volcano with a 360 degree panorama. Taungkalat monastery is home to the thirty seven official Nats.
The written work related to the thirty seven Nats by Sir R. C. Temple in 1906 portrays a knowledge and interest in the history of Nats that is both descriptive and highly interesting. Although he himself has said that this work is only his view.
His answer to the question: “What is a Nat? quote One is greatly tempted to derive it at once from the Indian Natha, especially in view of the probability that before the advent of Indian culture there was no generic term for spirit and that Natha means all that Nat does, a protector, savior, Lord, Master, chief and in India both a lofty and humble application, both to the mightiest of the Gods and the lowest of the godlings or superhuman heroes.
In the Pali scriptures it is a frequent epithet of the Buddha himself. Although it might be argued that the Burmese borrowed it as a designation for the thirty-three angel inhabitants of the Tavatimsa Heaven who are now represented by the thirty-seven Nats, the Nats par excellence, the innumerable remainder being merely hangers-on.
The ancient form of Nat worship in Upper Burma was that of the Naga or Serpent, which was traditionally the religion of Pagan and over turned by King Anawrahta in 1048A.D. Although the Naga appears in almost every chronicle of the Burmese, both male and female form, was more than likely an direct importation of the Naga of India. There is nothing in cult or legend so far as known to distinguish the Naga from the Nat in practice. Unquote
Interesting articles collected on Nat and spirit worship