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August 4, 2011

Shwe Chi Doe: A Recent Acquisition of the Tilleke & Gibbins Textile Collection

Textiles Asia

The Tilleke & Gibbins Textile Collection accessioned a large shwe chi doe hanging (h 1.6 m x w 4.7 m) in 2010. Pre-World War II examples are rarely found in the market; thus, the purchase was a rare opportunity to acquire a type of textile absent from the collection. Existing examples are housed in private and major museum collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Australian National Gallery, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Denison University of Ohio.

Little is known about the history of the shwe chi doe. However, a Canadian collector purchased the textile from a dealer in Hong Kong over twenty years ago, and then auctioned it in 2010. The theme of the overall design is a Buddhist narrative, more specifically the Three Worlds. The earthly realm is depicted with a scene of Burmese royalty on the composition’s left side. On the right hand side, the ruler and judge of the Underworld, Yama, delivers sentences. And, names of the various realms of Buddhist heavens are found in the top section. The textile’s couched inscription in Burmese lists the names of the family who commissioned the piece.