4] COLOSSAL EMBROIDERED TEMPLE HANGING (KALAGA)


Southeast Asia

4] COLOSSAL EMBROIDERED TEMPLE HANGING (KALAGA)

BURMA, 19TH CENTURY

H. 2 METRES, 79 INS

L. 5 METRES, 197 INS

A colossal, museum-worthy embroidered temple hanging (Kalaga), composed of appliqué, quilting and couching on a velvet ground and showing scenes from the Buddha’s previous lives (jatakas)

This is the largest Kalaga I have encountered and appears to be a detailed and intricate depiction of the Ajatasattu jataka. This story is also shown in a Kalaga illustrated as plate 254 in Sylvia Fraser-Lu, Burmese Crafts Past and Present, New York: O.U.P., 1994. The story concerns a prince, Ajatasattu, who is impatient to inherit the throne from his father, King Bimbisara (a follower of the Buddha), and decides to kill him. While out hunting a messenger brings news of the birth of his son and the death of his father. The arrival of his son fills Ajatasattu with remorse over his teachery to his father.

For another large Kalaga hanging in the Victoria and Albert Museum, see no. 25 in J. Lowry, Burmese Art, London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1974.  F

Provenance: Private Spanish collection. Acquired by the present owner from a retired Asian art dealer in the Canary Islands in the 1970s.