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  • Place of origin:

    Burma (made)

  • Date:

    before 1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lacquer, wood and sheet metal, gilded and inlaid with pieces of glass

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    South-East Asia, Room 47a, case 15

The high quality of this magnificent gilded, lacquer tiered headdress studded with brilliants was most likely a product of the court of Mandalay. Its shape is highly conventional and is similar to the crowns worn by Jambhupati Buddhas, royalty and minor deities. It was probably intended to be worn by an actor impersonating the king of Celestial Beings in a court pwe (theatrical production), and would have formed part of a costume based on 19th century ceremonial dress worn by Burmese kings on state occasions.

The first Burmese court play was written in the early 18th century, and both puppet plays and theatrical performances with actors became very popular throughout Burma in the 18th and 19th centuries. These plays were usually linked to an incident from Burmese history or were based on one of the Buddhist Jatakas (stories about the Buddha's previous incarnations).

Physical description

A tall multitiered theatrical headdress. Shaped like a close fitting helmet which curves across the forehead and extends over the ears and neck. It rises in nine tapering leafy tiers to a voluted finial. The base is decorated with stylised flower heads.

Place of Origin

Burma (made)


before 1880 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Lacquer, wood and sheet metal, gilded and inlaid with pieces of glass

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed inside helmet: "Bengal, 3106 (not 1880 Slip Number), Burmah"
Label; English


Height: 38 cm, Width: 20 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: A shape similar to the crowns worn by Burmese kings of the late Konbaung Dynasty and those seen on Jambhupati Buddhas, and minor deities.

Descriptive line

Wood & sheet metal theatrical headdress. Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885). Lacquered and gilt set with pieces of mirror and imitation stones. Before 1880

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Isaacs, Ralph & Blurton, Richard T, Visions from the Golden Land :Burma and the art of lacquer, London, British Museum, 2000
cat. no. 48
Burmese art / John Lowry. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1974 Number: 0112901794 :
p. 96
Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1983, ISBN 0-85667-120-7

Labels and date

1. Theatrical Headdress
Konbaung period
The high quality of this magnificent headdress suggests
that it was made at the Burmese court. It is similar in shape
to the crowns worn by royalty, minor deities and Jambupati
Buddhas (see top shelf), but was probably made for a theatrical
production. There it would have been worn by an actor
impersonating the king of Celestial Beings.
Lacquer, wood and sheet metal, gilded and inlaid with pieces of glass
Burma (probably Mandalay)
Museum no. 06207(IS) [14/06/2011]

Production Note

Attribution note: Used for dance or the theatre. The high quality of workmanship and material of this headdress suggests that it was probably a product for the Mandalay Court.


Wood; Sheet metal; Glass


Gilding; Lacquered

Subjects depicted

Theatre; Costume


Lacquerware; Hardstone; Dance; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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