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Burmese Innwa Ava Period Buddha Statue

Burmese Innwa Ava Style Buddha Statues

Burmese Innwa Ava Style Buddha Statues made during the Ava period (1364 – 1555) were inclined to have more prominent nose ridges and eyebrows, with the robs becoming more ornate, compared to the Buddha statues of their Pagan predecessors.

After the decline of the Pagan kingdom in the mid-13th century, Innwa, located in the Mandalay region was to become the Imperial capital from the 14th to 19th century, albeit sporadically. During this period the capital was sacked many times by various Shan clans and rebuilt. After a series of earthquakes in 1839 it was abandoned, today, there is very little to show of its previous grandeur. The Innwa period is divided into the early Innwa and late Innwa periods.

Innwa’s (meaning “mouth of the lake”) art was largely influenced by the Tai a group of people thought to have originated in southwestern China, they established their own kingdom making Innwa its capital. Tai iconography up until this period incorporated a mix of Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan influences.

During the Innwa period Buddha statues were crafted in a variety of styles, the Jambhupati Buddha, dressed in royal attire with ornate tiered crowns, intricately carved flanges extending out from the crown, wearing large earrings, with jewels depicted in the form of armbands and finger rings incised into the stone, or in the case of Wooden statues jewels were represented with the application of thayo lacquer.

Decorative incised robes became popular during this period, whilst others were fairly plain. The usnisha and finial varied, some were crafted with a small bulbous rounded usnisha with a long finial extending upwards, and others are seen with a short finial on top of a large rounded usnisha. The ears of the Innwa/Ava Buddha statue were usually large and stood out with long earlobes. Thayo lacquer also became a popular medium in which to apply decorative floral touches to the edges of the robes.

Popular Hand Mudra’s on Innwa/Ava Style Buddha Statues

The most popular hand mudra during the Innwa/Ava period didn’t deviate from previous times, Buddha statues from this period are most commonly seen in bhumisparsa (right hand touching the earth), Abhaya or dharmachakra mudra and occasionally in Maha Karuna mudra, with the Buddha either standing, lying down or in the lotus position with legs crossed and soles of the feet visible, they are in most cases seated or standing on a single or double lotus pedestal.

During the Ava period up until the Mandalay period (1853 – 1885) and post-Mandalay period (1885 – 1948), artistic decoration on a Buddha statue became more adventurous. Buddha statues dressed in royal attire with crowns and flanges became popular, in wood, marble and bronze. The use of thayo lacquer to create decorative patterns on the pedestal in which the Buddha sat, as well as creating decorative floral motifs on the robe and to define the outline of the Buddha’s robe also became popular. Glass mosaics and beads were used extensively not only on Buddha statues but also in furniture, betel nut boxes, lacquered ornaments and manuscripts. Real gold leaf was also extensively used on such objects.

The proximity of Ava to Sagyin mountains, a chain of mountains with abundant marble deposits approximately 21 miles north of Mandalay made the crafting of alabaster and marble Buddha statues more popular. Buddha statues made from fine alabaster were also popular during the Innwa/Ava period, by the latter half of the 19th century most statues were made from white marble, and today in Mandalay the workshops are using mostly marble with a few workshops casting bronze Buddha statues and wooden statues.

Early 19th Century Alabaster Ava Buddha Statue
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