CENTURY IMPRESSIONS OF BURMA.
more simple. The effect produced was very fine, and the various types introduced into the scheme blended perfectly. Some artists can model human figures very well, and there is a great improvement in this branch of carving.
Bronze bells and brass gongs of all sizes are to be found in all monasteries and pagoda enclosures. So that it will be seen that masons, carpenters, gilders, inlayers of glass
mosaic, carvers, iron-workers, makers of brass images, bronze and brass bells, and sculptors in marble and wood, find constant employment. Only the most revered fanes are ever repaired, all other pagodas and monasteries being usually allowed to fail into decay. The earlier and purely Burmese art was very chaste and simple. During the
reign of King Mengdon Min, much European, and especially Italian, artistic influence was introduced into Burma, and there is no doubt but that this has not elevated Burmese art. Modern work is much more pretentious and elaborate, and the pure and effective simplicity of the earlier Burmese work has practically disappeared. Very good wood-carving can still be done in Mandalay, but Rangoon and the rich Lower Burma towns are gradually
attracting the best artists from all parts of the province. Some of the modern carving, however, is extremely fine, but it is very elaborate, and far less effective than the older and simpler type that used to be produced.
Gilders and Glass-mosaic workers are to
be found principally in Rangoon and Man-
dalay. The modern work is not as artistic as the old, although the workmen are capable of copying the best old work. aHtisa for monasteries and pagodas are made mostly by iron-workers in Mandalay and are sent to all parts of the province. They are roughly made and look very effective, as they are always seen far below and from a distance. Some of the a htis a are hung with gold (occasionally set with jewels) and silver bells. a Htis a are always gilded all over. This can be done locally. Brass images of Gautama, bronze and brass bells and gongs are mostly cast in Mandalay and Myingyan, and are sent from the centres to all parts of Burma. The tone of some of the bells and gongs is very fine. Bronze consists of four parts copper to two parts tin.
Alabaster and marble images of Gautama are mostly finished in Mandalay and sent to all parts of Burma. Marble is obtained from Sagaing and also at Sagyin near Mandalay. The images are sitting, standing, and lying, and are all made after the same design. The faces of some are quite beautiful in their dignity and repose.
Coming to the second class of Arts and Handicrafts, we find that the principal are :a Silver work, jewellery, ivory-carving, lacquer work, iron work, boat-building, pottery, mat-weaving, umbrella-making, painting, embroidery, silk and cotton-weaving.
Silver Work.aVery fine silver work, especially bowls, betel boxes, lime boxes, and c., are made by silversmiths in most of the principal towns of Burma. The Burmese work done in the times of the Burmese kings was, like the wood-carving, far less elaborate, and was, consequently, more chaste in appearance. Modern work is very good, however, notwithstanding the change that has come over it. The figures and patterns are usually in high relief, and the result is very effective.
Jewellery.aIn most towns, gold-smiths are to be found who make gold ear-rings and rings set with precious stones, anklets, bracelets and charms of various kinds which are usually suspended from gold necklaces and chains. Hair combs are often set with jewels or ornamented with gold. Much of the jewellery now made is very similar to that made in the times of the Burmese kings.
Ivory Carving.aThis is to be found in Moulmein, where some of the work is of a very high order. Ivory sword and dagger-hilts and scabbards are made beautifully carved. Whole tusks are elaborately carved : figures of Gautama are seen modelled in the
SPECIMEN OF WOOD CARVING AT THE SHWE DAGON PAGODA, RANGOON.SPECIMEN OF WOOD CARVING AT THE SHWE DAGON PAGODA, RANGOON.