- Museum number
Cup, 'khwet'. The interior has a plain covering of deep red 'pigeon-blood' lacquer (where this is cracked the woven basketry is visible). The background colour of the exterior is, unusually, brown while the yun engraved decoration is in yellow, red and - again unusually - blue (this is only visible today in the interior of the body of the horses). The main register of decoration is set between smaller bands, which include concentric yellow lines, engraved with a compass. These imitate strips of bare bamboo set into the lacquer surface, a style that is assumed to be earlier than the yun technique. The main register sports yun decoration using the 'figures and buildings', 'let taik let kya', design, which is made up of a repeating pattern (here shown four times) of a woman in a building with, in front, a man on horseback. On the base are further rows of concentric circles, imitation basketry and geometric pattern.
- Production date
Diameter: 9 centimetres
Height: 8.30 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Isaacs and Blurton 2000:
Cups of all shapes and sizes are produced at Pagan, and this example demonstrates a fine degree of 'yun' work of considerable liveliness.
Sylvia Fraser-Lu has suggested that the figures in this type of design are characters from the Ramayana, and this may be so. On this cup, however, the figures are so stylized and apparently so similar to each other that this interesting link is now difficult to substantiate. She has also traced this design to the Ava period (eighteenth and early nineteenth century) which would certainly accord with the assumed date of this cup.
This cup came to the British Museum from the collection of Sir Harry and Lady Garner in 1974 and was first published, as cat. 188, in the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition of their collection in the Museum in 1973 (Garner also published this cup in his later 1979 volume). Their main interest was in Chinese and other Far Eastern traditions of lacquer. Indeed, of the 190 examples illustrated in the 1973 catalogue, only three are described as being from South East Asia. One is this cup, one is a small offering bowl on a stand from Thailand - and the third is actually from Sindh in western India and is decorated with 'lac', not lacquer. All three of these are now in the British Museum. Today we have a better understanding of the method of production of these wares than is found in Garner's books, but we are still, for the most part, in that position he poignantly described in 1973 when he wrote that 'the problems of tracing the origins of lacquer manufacture in South East Asia are formidable'.
For a similar cup with an almost identical design, see 1991,1119.1
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 Apr - 2000 Aug, BM, 'Visions from the Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer.'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number