AGE: – 19th
CONSTRUCTION: – Hollow lacquer using the dry Lacquer Technique
DESCRIPTION: – Very nice simple Shan Hollow Lacquer Buddha Image with thayo lacquer decoration, some traces of gild still remain
HEIGHT: – 44cm
WIDTH: – 24cm
DEPTH: – 17cm
WEIGHT: – 700gms
The Shan Hollow Lacquer Buddha Images were first made by a group of villages just outside Ye-U township in the Monywa district, approximately 136 kilometres north west of Mandalay. Many of the craftsmen were not professional artisans but farmers who made the Buddha images in their spare time.
The process of making the Shan Hollow Lacquer Buddha Image involved making a rough image of the Buddha from clay, after which a wooden or iron tool called a than-let was used to shape and form the basic details. Before the clay image was completely dry, it was smeared with a mixture of water and straw ash. Over this core was laid a plaster of thit-se (lacquer) which was mixed with very fine sifted teak sawdust.
The than-let was then used to shape and define areas such as eyes, ears, nose and mouth. When the plaster hardened, the inner clay core was removed. The plaster had to be cut open to remove the clay from the less accessible areas such as the head and arms. The openings were resealed by a further application of the same plaster, and the image was then covered with another coat of filtered thit-se, this time mixed with the ashes of straw or bran.
The statue was again smoothed with the than-let, then polished with a stone smeared with sesame, and left to dry. Once the lacquer was hardened, the hollow lacquer image was washed and again polished with a stone before being varnished with the purest red-brown or black lacquer.
These hollow lacquer Buddha images were mostly made during the cooler season from November to February, as it provided the best conditions for drying both the clay core and the lacquer. One man could make thirty to thirty-five images per season. Most were reported as being sold to the Shan States.