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Photo gallery: Burmese wooden carving with Norfolk roots set to reach thousands at online auction

06:30 07 April 2014

Monumental pediment sculpture likely to have come from the Mandalay Palace complex; Photo credit: Submitted.

Monumental pediment sculpture likely to have come from the Mandalay Palace complex; Photo credit: Submitted.


It has travelled more than 7,500 miles around the world and survived for more than a century, now an intricately carved ornament from Burma is going under the hammer.

The Mandalay Palace complex; Photo credit: Submitted.The Mandalay Palace complex; Photo credit: Submitted.

Inherited in 1987 from an elderly aunt who lived near the Georgian town of Holt, in north Norfolk, the 19th century carved monument is being sold by pianist Philip Fowke.

It is not known exactly how and when the family in Norfolk acquired the carving but it is believed to have come from the Palace of Mandalay, following its capture by the British in 1886.

The item goes on sale from midday today (Monday) during the Indian and Islamic online auction at run by specialist Arthur Millner. Bidding will end this Thursday at 1.50pm.

Mr Millner said: “This is a spectacular piece of woodcarving, a craft at which the Burmese have traditionally excelled.

“When the British annexed Burma in Victorian times, the wood carver’s skill was redirected towards furniture and small scale mementoes for the colonial expatriate market, but here we have an artefact which demonstrates the original architectural context.”

The Palace of Mandalay was the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy and today stands as a primary symbol of Mandalay as a tourist destination.

The suggestion that the item comes from the palace, rather than a religious building, is because of the secular nature of the scenes depicted in the carving, which are courtly rather than devotional. The building in Mandalay itself had similar carvings along the roof eaves.

Described as “a carved and gilded monumental pediment sculpture” it stands 101cm in height and 186cm long and has been crafted into three sections, fixed together, and gilded in high relief.

It shows a princely figure at the apex, holding a fly whisk, flanked by a pair of female devotees with a peacock below. There is also a detailed scene in smaller scale comprising a walled palace - probably the palace at Mandalay - with a central figure in a pavilion, surrounded by courtiers and a gateway below with a figure on an elephant leaving the places with attendants carrying a gong and drum.

The scene is flanked by larger figures on lotuses among scrolling foliage

It is estimated to reach between £4,000 and £6,000.

• To bid on the item visit and look for lot 111.

• Do you have an interesting heirloom in your family? Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop by emailing or following on Twitter @donnaloubishop.




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