Beyond the Aesthetic: The Art of Burmese Metalworking

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The Art of Loom Pulleys


Painting of a traditional loom from a temple wall in Thailand.

Burmese mythology is intricately woven within the fabric of everyday life. For this reason, it is of no surprise to find mythical motifs as common modes of inspiration in Burmese textiles and metal work.

Textile production in Burma dates back to AD 500-900. The local textile industry became a prominent part of Burmese culture. The development of the weaving loom not only allowed production of intricate fabrics but also gave artisans an additional space to introduce Burmese ornamentation. Loom pulleys proved to be an excellent source of inspiration because they were suspended in mid air in order to hold threads of cotton. 


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(Header: BC97.2.53F, Bronze, Kinnari; BC97.2.53D, Bronze, Karaweik; BC97.2.53K, Bronze, Kinnari. Objects from Burma Art Collection; Photographs courtesy Scott Walstrom, NIU Creative Services.)