The ALTFIELD GALLERY is proud to present Fine Decorative Arts from Burma, showcasing exceptional works from the major categories of Burmese art, dating from the late 18th century to mid-20th century. The pieces were created for the domestic market, functioning as utilitarian and religious objects, with examples made in different media to include stone, wood, bronze, lacquer, silver, silk and cotton. The breadth and the quality of objects assembled provide a comprehensive overview of this country's diverse artistic production, representing its rich cultural heritage and the skilled workmanship of the artisans employed.

Sculptural representations of the Buddha are highly revered and these objects were used in homes and temples to aid worship. On display are a selection of 18th and 19th century Buddha sculptures from Mandalay and the Shan States including pieces in alabaster, bronze and wood, often using lacquer as a finishing surface or gilding the completed sculpture. We will also feature a small group of monks and the Buddha's attendants made in carved wood and decorated with gilt lacquer.

Lacquerware is found in all Burmese households. The durability and affordability of this medium has enabled it to penetrate all levels of society, with vessels produced for both religious and secular purposes. The objects on display are primarily used for food storage and ceremonial temple offerings, such as betel nut boxes, raised trays, bowls and votive vessels. There is also an extensive selection of palm leaf kammavaca manuscripts, or Burmese bibles. These manuscripts are inscribed with religious texts from the Pali Vinaya, which provide the rules of conduct for monks in the monastic system. It consists of a set of rectangular boards, which are richly decorated with the square shaped tamarind seed script in red or black lacquer on a gold leaf ground.

Burmese silversmiths are renowned for their level of craftsmanship, excelling in repoussé and chasing. The principal modes of decoration are high relief, noted for its dramatic sculptural forms and the restrained and delicate ornamentation associated with low relief. Popular themes for silver decoration are the signs of the zodiac, represented by lively animals and mythical creatures and the ornate figures in high relief depicting scenes from the Jataka tales. Of interest are manuscript cases, bowls, betel nut boxes, receptacles and containers, often with a maker's mark.

Textile weaving is a living art with widespread production throughout Burma. Locally produced cotton and silk, which was largely imported from China, are commonly used. We will feature examples of luntaya-acheik and supplementary weft textiles from the Chin and Arakan states produced in the 20th century. Luntaya-acheik is a silk textile woven into an interlocking tapestry design of stripes and waves with striking colour combinations. These textiles are highly valued, as they are both extremely labourious and time consuming to produce.