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Model pagoda

Model pagoda

  • Place of origin:

    Burma (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, formed by raising and finished with repoussé and incised work

  • Museum number:

    02755 to C/(IS)

  • Gallery location:

    South-East Asia, Room 47a, case 16 []

This is a gold reliquary in the form of a hemispherical, Buddhist commemorative monument called a stupa. The shape refers to the original funerary mounds which were built in India to house relics of the Buddha. It formed part of a gold hoard (see ceremonial helmet 02758 (IS)), dating to the 15th and 16th centuries, and thus to the Mon kingdom of Pegu.

The hoard was excavated from a stupa relic chamber at the base of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda (literally 'Golden Temple') in Rangoon in 1855. Embossed and chased with lion, floral and foliate motifs, like other miniature stupas, it could have served either as a ritual object or as a container for the ashes of a highly respected monk.

Physical description

A reliquary (which is hollow to contain relics or offerings) in the shape of a stupa or pagoda in four parts: the dome; finial;(part of which is lost) and two foliated tiers. A band of petals girdles its base. Above are square panels, each embossed with an alternating design of a lion and a flower. Over this panel are petals interspersed with a lion mask disgorging ornaments. Three rings rise above it to another row of petals leading to the base of the dome, which is decorated with bodhi leaves. The borders of the the waisted plinth for the now missing finial are further decorated with bodhi leaves.

Place of Origin

Burma (made)


ca. 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, formed by raising and finished with repoussé and incised work


Height: 34.3 cm, Diameter: 30 cm maximum

Historical context note

Stupa (sanskrit) zeidi (Burmese) was originally a burial mound, adapted by Buddhists as a monument to enshrine relics of the Buddha and to mark important sites of Buddhism.

Descriptive line

Burmese gold reliquary in the form of a stupa, Mon Kingdom of Pegu, ca. 15th cen. embossed and chased with lion, floral and foliate designs.

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

Noel F. Singer; Arts of Asia; Sept./Oct 1992
The Golden Relics of Bana Thau: p. 75; ill. Fig 9
Col Sykes; F.R.S.;M.P.: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society;
Account of some Golden Relics discovered at Rangoon; 1860; p.298; ill
Jane Terry Bailey; A Syllabus for a Course in Burmese Art; Denison University, Granville, Ohio; 1968; p.47; Slide # 109
Canberra: National Museum of Australia; Gold and Civilisation, Exhibition 2001; catalogue; p. 184; ill. 185

Labels and date

Reliquary in the Form of a Stupa
Possibly 1400–1700
Along with the headdress, this was excavated in 1855
from a relic chamber at the base of the Shwedagon
Pagoda (literally ‘Golden Temple’) in Rangoon. Like other
miniature stupas, it might have been a container for the
ashes of a respected monk, or it might simply have been
a ritual object.
Burma (Rangoon
(now Yangon))
Museum no. 02755(IS) [14/06/2011]

Production Note

Excavated by labourers when building barracks on the site of an old pagoda east of the Shwe Dagon, Rangoon in 1855.




Raising; Repousse'; Incising

Subjects depicted

Lions; Foliate; Buddhist; Floral


India Museum

Production Type



South & South East Asia Collection

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