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Subject:Need help identifying sketches
Posted By: BA Miskowiec Thu, Dec 27, 2018 IP:

I found these sketches in my parents' belongings. We siblings have no idea how or when my parents acquired them. My thought is that my father (b. 1917, d. 1981) was the owner. He was in WWII, but never overseas.
They appear to be pencil or pen and ink on parchment. I have cropped 3 of the sketches to make them fit the size requirements of this message board.
Any thoughts as to the artist, origin?

Subject:Re: Need help identifying sketches
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Dec 28, 2018

Your sketches appear to be from Burma (now Myanmar) and may have been done by a Shan artist, judging by costuming and other factors. There is a typical Burmese Buddhist stupa in the background of the top sketch, which shows a standing woman holding a basket in the foreground. The middle sketch depicts a Shan or possibly Kayah man beating what was commonly called a Kayah drum (sometimes abbreviated "Kha" and also called "Frog" or "Rain" Drum), which historical bronze instruments were important in Kayah rituals. However, the Kayah people usually commissioned the manufacture of their drums to Shan metalsmiths. Over the centuries, such drums became treasured possessions not only in Burma but also its neighboring Buddhist countries of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

I'd guess your sketches to date to the early 20th century, when Burma was still under British dominion as the easternmost province of the "Raj" in Colonial India. The British granted independence to it in 1948. Also, the drum in your sketch has stacks of three frogs on its top, a feature associated with later drums. According to a brief history of the instruments compiled in the late 20th century by a Shan official of the United Nations Development Program in Burma, the last castings of these drums took place in 1924. Anyone interested in additional peripheral info on this subject can find it at the embedded link below.

Best regards,

Bill H.

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