Burma: Early 20th Century.
Boards. 6 3/8" X 4 1/8". 32 panels, handmade paper in leporello folds pasted to lacquered wooden boards. No date, likely very early 20th century. Bevelled boards decorated with elephants, painted in red, black, and gold. Some edgewear to the boards and, to a lesser degree, the paper. Parabaiks are made of heavy paper cut and pasted into one long strip, then folded accordion-style and pasted to boards.
This late 19th century to early 20th century Burmese parabaik--an accordian style book--features 27 images, 5 of which are double-panel, each beautifully and carefully hand-colored, for the purpose of aiding a client in choosing a tattoo design. Images include what may be the deity Ganesha, a warrior atop a green peafowl, a yali (a mythical creature with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion), a human body with an elephant's head and two tusks, creatures bearing script in squares, many humans with what appear to be blades, a dancing man, and various beasts. Pigments include muted gray, purple, green, umber, sparingly ochre, and very sparingly red, used only for eyes, with each image surrounded by text scribed in black. Tattooing was quite prevalent in Burma (now Myanmar) until British colonization, especially among certain ethnic groups, including the Shan, Bamar, and Karen. This tattoo book is possibly from or influenced by the Shan region; the Shan believed tattoos had magical associations and could act in a protective capacity. The script in this parabaik may be chants or charms. Parabaiks are rare and unique manuscripts, most housed in university special collections. Very good. Item #3518