- Museum number
Betel box, 'kun it' with a lacquered, woven bamboo armature. The colour-filled 'yun' decoration of this fine betel-box from the workshops of Hsaya Htat of Pagan combines two traditional patterns. The background uses the 'za yun' netting in dark green and yellow on black. Two sets of medallions are placed against this: one on the sides of the deep cover depicts the twelve figures of the zodiac, or 'yathi yok', each with the name of its month; while the other, in a ring on the top of the lid, depicts the eight planets, which are also the signs of the days of the Burmese week, or 'gyo shit myo'. Both days of the week and signs of the zodiac are named in Burmese. The zodiac signs are ram, bull, 'kinnara' (bird-man), crab, lion, maiden, pair of scales, scorpion, archer, 'makara' (sea-monster), water-pot, fish. The animals of the days of the week are tiger (Monday), lion (Tuesday), tusked elephant (Wednesday forenoon), tuskless elephant (Wednesday midday to midnight), rat (Thursday), guinea-pig (Friday), snake (Saturday) and 'galon' (Sunday). The eight days of the week appear again, but this time unnamed, around the drum of the vessel that is covered by the lid. The signature of the master of the lacquer workshop, Hsaya Htat, appears in the frieze at the top of the side of the cover.
- Production date
Diameter: 26.60 centimetres
Height: 24.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Isaacs and Blurton 2000:
For another example from this atelier, see BM 1998.0723.4. For another example of 'za yun', see BM 1998.0723.70.
In the Burmese system there are traditionally eight planets, each of which is linked with one of the days of the week; Wednesday is assigned two planets, one from midnight to midday and the other from midday to midnight. See Shway Yoe 1882, ch. 1.
The animal known as 'pu' in Burmese and representing Friday and the planet Venus cannot be a true guinea-pig, which is exclusively American. It may originally have been a hamster, which occurs in the far north of Burma, in the ancestral lands of the Burmans. 'Galon' is Burmese for the Indian 'Garuda', half-man, half-hawk.
The zodiac, which is quite Westernised, is as follows -
Ram = the month of Tagu
Bull = Kason
Kinnara = Nayon
Crab = Waso
Lion/chinthe = Wagaung
Virgo = Tawthalin (here, Virgo holds a leafy branch).
Libra = Thadingyut (represented by a pair of scales)
Scorpio = Tazaungmon
Archer = Nadaw (with a bow)
Makara = Pyatho (sea monster with a chinthe/lion's head, scaly body, and fish tail)
Waterpot = Tabodwe (Aquarius)
Fish = Tabaung (one fish with whiskers)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 Apr - 2000 Aug, BM, 'Visions from the Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer.'
2014 2 Oct – 2015 11 Jan, London, BM, Pilgrims, healers and wizards: Buddhism and religious practices in Burma and Thailand.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired by the donors from U Kyaw Zaw in November 1991 for 6,500 kyats.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Isaacs 119