Fair highlight from Robert Frew Ltd.

 

NINETEENTH CENTURY BURMESE PARABAIK or "WHITE FOLDING BOOK"

[c.1885-95]

A long leporello (concertina style) parabaik comprising 142 hand-painted sections, (each 16 x 7 in.) giving a total length of nearly 83 ft. (c.25 metres), plus 2 blanks at the front and 1 at the rear, bound in original red painted boards, folding to 16 x 7 x 5.5 inches (41 x 18 x 9 cm.). Several preliminary pencil sketches to verso.

1-16 Royal Regatta (9ft. 4 in.)
17 - 24 Horse Race. (4ft. 8in.)
25 - 30  English  attack at Gwe Kyaung. (3ft. 6in.)
31 - 34  English attack on Minhla. (2ft. 4in.)
35 - 38 Cane-ball game "chinlone". (2ft. 4in.)
39 - 44 Court Scene. King, Queen and courtiers in an open tent being entertained. (3ft. 6in.)
45 - 52 Puppet Show &  fete. (4ft. 8in.)
53 - 60 Tight Rope and other acrobatics. (4ft. 8in.)
61 - 76 Buddhist  marriage-making at the Mahamuni Pagoda, Mandalay (9ft. 4 in.)
77 - 84 New Year Water Festival (4ft. 8in.)
85 -  110 Military Parade with defence minister Kinwun Mingyi U Kaung (?) and King Thibaw (?) with English troops (15ft. 2in.)
111 - 120 Polo (5ft. 10in.)
121 - 124 Buddhist ordination ceremony. (2ft.4in.)
125 - 130 Buddhist funeral with palanquins (3ft. 6in)
131 - 134 Elephant jousting (2ft.4in.)
135 - 142 Elephant training (4ft. 8in.)

During the reign of King Mindon (1853-1878), Burmese artists were officially appointed at the royal court to record important events at the court and scenes from royal life in folding books (parabaiks).

The tradition continued and this example would seem to have been produced about 1885, or a little later, following the third Anglo Burmese war here depicted in two of the scenes. The long military scene possibly a depiction of  the end of King Thibaw's reign just prior to his abdication.

Rare to find such a long and interesting display in such good condition with typical vibrant colours and gold highlights.

A similar collection, again with 16 illustrations, but differing in exact subject matters, can be found in the British Museum (Or. 16761)

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