Place of Origin: BURMA
Date: 19th Century
Overall: 830mm x 320mm (32 ½ x 12 ½ inches)
Reference: 830mm x 320mm
Likely originating from Burma, this fearsome tiger was perhaps intended as an attendant creature or as the mount of the nat (spirit) Maung Po Tu. In his human existence, he was a tea trader during the reign of King Minkhaung of Ava (Innwa) and was killed by a tiger during a journey to Shan state. For a figure of the Maung Po Tu nat riding a tiger see plate 74 in Sylvia Fraser-Lu, Burmese Crafts Past and Present, O.U.P., New York, 1994.
Our well-preserved example is painted mainly in orange, its stripes stylised in strips of black and pale red paint which each curve at either end. The tiger’s details are carved out with considerable care: the eyes are painted with central white dots on an intimidating black ground and enclosed within a pale-red painted circle, slender eyelashes emanating out. Bristling whiskers flow from the top of the tiger’s fierce grin which is filled with white-painted teeth, its sharp canines carved so as to appear distinct from the others. The tiger’s strong legs and musculature can also be seen in the carving, adding to the fearful aspect of this sculpture, as if it were ready to strike at prey.