1889.29.54

Figure of a bee (card says 'fly', but it is undoubtedly from Thibaw's bee throne. SD). Ornament of one of King Thibaw's throne.

Place details: SE ASIA. Myanmar (Burma). Mandalay. Cultural Group: Burman Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / Gilt Metal / Lacquer Varnish / Gold Foil Metal / ?. Processes: Carved / Gilded / Lacquered Varnished / ?. Colour: Gold Dimensions: Max L = 180 mm When Collected: By 1889 Acquired: Donated November 1889

KEYWORD: Insect Figure / CLASS: Figure / Ceremonial / Religion / ?.

Publications history, trails & websites: Referred to on page 226 of 'Two Golden Bees, from the Glass Palace in Burma', by Molly Oldfield, in her The Secret Museum (London: Collins, 2013. Oldfield's focus is on the bees from The Bee Throne from the Glass Palace in Mandalay held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but she also makes reference to related material: 'The British Museum and the Pitt Rivers in Oxford each own a medium-sized lion.... The two museums also own a pageboy each. The boys are sculpted in the same pose as the child I saw, their arms in prayer in front of their heads. but each one is very slightly different, probably each made by a different artist.... There are two others [bees] in Oxford, but, otherwise, there really is nothing else like them in the world.' NB Only one bee has been identified in the collections. [JC 24 2 2017]

Illustrated in black and white (PRM000013135) as Figure 3.1 opposite the first page of 'The Buzz of Displacement: Liminality among Burmese Court Objects in Oxford, London and Yangon', by Sandra H. Dudley, in The Inbetweenness of Things: Materializing Mediation and Movement between Worlds, edited by Paul Basu (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), pp. 39-56. Caption (same page): 'FIGURE 3.1 | Gilded wooden bee, on display [sic ?] in the Pitt Rivers Museum, length 180 mm. Donated to the museum in 1889, by Richard Carnac Temple. 1889.29.54. (c) Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford'. Dudley writes (page 39): 'On display in the University of Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum is a gilded, wooden bee, about 18 cm long. Together with another in the museum's stores [sic ?] and three in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, it is one of only five of the original thirty-six bees that embellished the now lost Bee Throne (Bhamara Thana) of the Mandalay Court in pre-British Burma, known today. The Bee Throne was one of nine thrones, each located at different points in the palace of Burma's last kindg, Thibaw Min, each carved from a specific wood, each themed with distinct natural motifs and each serving particular ceremonial functions. All were made at one auspicious time, in the waning moon month of Kason, BE 1220 (May 1858 CE) determined by astrology and enhanced by accompanying rituals...'. (NB Only one bee has been identified in the PRM's collections.) [JC 3 10 2017]