buddhist art
Tai Yai (Shan)


The Tai Yai Kingdom was established after the Tai Yai people joined foreces with Kublai Kahn in attacking the Myanmar Kingdom in Bagan in the 14th century. Chinese support allowed them to consolidate and broaden their influence in Burma and they founded their capital Ava in 1342. In 1551 Ava fell under the control of the Myanmar Kingdom and remained under Myanmar control until 1885 when it was organized and renamed by the British colonial power as ?Shan State?. Therefore the denomination "Shan style", that is often used to describe all of Tai Yai Art, is only appropriate for the Tai Yai pieces after 1885.


Tai Yai Art had its roots in China, but in the 14th century it became exposed to the Myanmar style and since the 16th century it mixed with the Myanmar style to the extent that the styles became almost indistinguishable. An added difficulty was the fact that western scholars? archeological findings in Ava, which was consecutively the capital of the Tai Yai and Myanmar Kingdoms, were all classified as Ava/Shan by early scholars. In fact, however, they were older Tai Yai pieces and pieces with Tai Yai and Myanmar influence from the 2nd/3rd Ava period. (For distinction see chapter on Myanmar 2nd/3rd Ava)


Tai Yai Buddha images come as plain and adorned images with different types of usually high and elaborate pedestals.  Bell shaped lotus pedestals and pedestals with elephant decoration were popular as well as 2 small praying deciples attached to the pedestal. Bronze, wood, papermach? and marble were the most common materials. A lot of folk art pieces from the provinces of the Tai Yai Kingdom with less Myanmar influence than the Ava pieces can be found. Their tribal appearance and the less refined craftmenship makes them a bargain for the beginning collector.


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