U MAUNG KYAW ZAW
It is not easy to answer when the lacquerware industry has existed in Rakhine. Nowadays, as the lacquerware industry has vanished in Rakhine, the researchers face the difficulties in their researchs.
It is found that the lacquered statues of the Buddha in Mrauk-U, the ancient capital of Rakhine State, are the fine workmanships between 17th and 18th Century. Therefore, it is said that, the lacquerwaer industry was well-established and popular in Rakhine during 17th Century. Lacquerware is called “Tike” by Rakhine people. Therefore, the lacquered accessories are called “Tike accessories” and the lacquered Buddha statues are called “Tike Buddha!’.
The reason of the lacquer-ware business failure and no longer existence in Rakhine is the people didn’t make lacquerware as the business, said by the older generation. The lacquerwares found in Rakhine state are “hsun oke” (large bowl with stand and cover for offering of food to monks), betel box, “yay sout”, “hsun faint” (food carrier) and Buddha images. The Rakhine term “yay sout” means “maung dawn faint” which is used as the cup to put robe in Shin Pyu ceremony.
There are many trees called “chein”by Rakhine people in the hills nearby Mrauk-U. “Chein” resin is mainly used in making lacquerware and Myanmar people called lacquer resin.
Phaya-paw Pagoda is one of the most famous and ancient pagodas in Mrauk-U. There is a monastery beside the Phaya-paw pagoda. This monastery preserves the two ancient lacquered Buddha images; statue of a standing Buddha and a sitting Buddha.
THE STATUE OF A STANDING TIKE BUDDHA
The height of Buddha image is 7 feet and 10 inches. The forefinger of the right hand standing with Abaya Mudra (preventing the danger) style cracked a little and the rest parts are in good condition.
This Buddha image has graceful face and well proportioned body. The selvages of the robe are created beautifully and artistically. As the image is on the wooden throne and its height is nearly eight feet, it is very satisfied to worship the Buddha image heartily with standing position.
In the past, this standing Buddha image was carried by covering with royal white umbrellas in front of the monks to pay homage and reverently worship by the people.
THE STATUE OF SITTING TIKE BUDDHA
The extraordinary thing of Buddha image with 2 feet and 4 inches height is the crown and the royal regalia. It represents the zabupati minkwat khan according to Myanmar tradition. The Rakhine people regard as Maha Kyein Buddha.
There is a tradition; when a Rakhine king ascend the throne, he had to swear and promise to rule the country in accordance with the precepts incumbent of a king and treat the people as his own children by keeping the Buddha image draped in royal costumes on his head in front of the presiding monks. Therefore of Buddha image draped in royal costumes are called Maha Kyein Buddha.
The workmanship of the crown, the ornament covering the chest and moung kok of the Buddha image are superbly and amazing. Although the three protrusions of the crown had lost, we can observe the fine arts of the crown. The ornament covering the chest is designed with geometric figures in glass mosaic embedded in gilding and floral motifs made up with lacquer resin. In Myanmar, most of the glass mosaics embedded in gilding are used the red colour but there is no red colour mosaic in this image. As it only uses the pleasant colours such as blue, green, yellow and white colours, the pilgrims can feel the serenity.
The hands are Zarna Mudra (being in a state of deep concentration) style and holding a myaik ohe. It is found that these Buddha images are the workmanships of the late Mrauk-U era. The fine arts of floral motifs on the throne are the pure Rakhine traditional style.
The drawing method is used to make the floral motifs in Myanmar lacquerware. The Rakhine lacquerware is created to be evident the fine arts with resin.
Most of the Rakhine Tike items are in private art collectors hands. Another statue of sitting Tike Buddha and ten lacquered “hsun oke” can be seen unitedly at Maha Kuthala monastery in Sittwe. The rare and unusual lacquered “hsun faint” (food carrier) is maintained and displayed at Rakhine State Cultural Museum in Sittwe.
Source: The Traveller Journal