VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Hat of a Buddhist monk
SMV Md. 3
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This hat is very rare and only a few examples are known outside Myanmar. They were apparently made exclusively for very high-ranking Buddhist monks and the decoration of this hat is also very special. On a golden background ground it shows the representation of the last 28 Buddhas with their names written beneath in a cartridge. In Hinayana Buddhism it is believed that there were innumerable Buddhas. The last 28 Buddhas, however, were described as concrete persons with their own legendary biography in one literary source (the Sotathakirath of the monk Kula Buddhagosha from Ceylon). Iconographically they are represented in padmasana and bhumisparsa mudra.

History of the Object
The original owner of this hat was the famous Buddhist hermit U Kanti who lived on Mandalay Hill near the town of Mandalay and whose name is still known by many Burmese people today. U Kanti collected a lot of money for the building and conservation of Buddhist temples and monasteries. Lucian Scherman, the director of our museum, visited U Kanti on Mandalay Hill during his tour through Burma in 1911. Scherman was very interested in acquiring the lacquer hat of U Kanti for the museum. As it is forbidden for Buddhist monks to accept money as a personal gift, Scherman donated some money for the building activities of U Kanti.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Dry lacquer with gold, woven material 
Measurements
Width 19,5 cm Height 25 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Myanmar; Mandalay 
Geography
Myanmar 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 1888 (before) 
Function
Hat for a high-ranking Buddhist monk 
Acquisition
This hat is part of a large collection of about 2000 Burmese objects, which Lucian Scherman the former director of our museum collected on his journey through South and Southeast Asia in 1910/11. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, Germany 
Museum
Five Continents Museum, Munich 
Credit line
State Museum of Ethnology, Munich, Germany 

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