Burmese image maker
Photographer: Klier, Philip Adolphe (c.1845-1911)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Burmese sculptor at work, taken by Philip Adolphe Klier in the 1890s. This view shows the sculptor carving an image of a seated Buddha in clay or wax, before casting the sculpture in bronze using the lost wax method. Theravada Buddhism was adopted as the Burmese national religion in the 11th century.
Burmese art has historically been intertwined with Buddhism and Buddha images are considered its finest expression. There are a number of different regional types. The one shown is a Mandalay Buddha, distinguished by the elaborately folded robe and the absence of a lotus finial on his head. The original caption of the photograph was 'Burmese idol maker,' which has been emended to the current title. Klier, of German origin, began as a professional photographer in Moulmein in Lower Burma in 1871. In a few years he had built up a considerable reputation and based himself in Rangoon. He took hundreds of photographs, mostly for Europeans, both as a memoir of their stay in Burma and to feed the great interest in pictures of the country in Europe. He was known as a specialist in art photography and his work was published in art books. He was interested in portraying images of mosaics, woodcarving and other crafts of Burma. In fact he later became a dealer in arts and crafts such as silverware and furniture.