Description & Technical information

Wood, leather, lacquer and gold. Kingdom of Pegu (Burma. present day Myanmar). 16th C., 2nd half.
A rare display shield (rodela) made from exotic wood planks and lined with several layers of animal hyde, hot moulded to the wooden structure according to the 'cuir bouilli' technique, and later coated with Southeastern Asian lacquer or 'thitsi', in black, decorated with gold leaf on the front and back.
Chemical analysis - through pyrolysis followed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry - identified the lacquer used to decorate this piece as 'Gluta usitata' from the species 'Melanorrhoea usitata' a tree which originates from regions in present-day Thailand and Pegu respectively.
The front is filled with a large heraldic shield, impossible to read in its entirety due to the wear and tear of the gold decoration, set on a background of large rinceaux and 'corn cobs' which, like those that fill the large border, reproduce ornamental engravings from the first half of the 16th century. Partitioned, the heraldic reading of the shield includes on the right hand side six besets arranged in 2, 2, 2, which, may correspond to the Castro or Melo families. Similar vegetable motifs decorate the border on the underside where the leather lined arm hold may still be seen.

Date:  16th C., 2nd half
Period:  1400-1600, 16th Century
Origin:  Myanmar
Medium: Wood, Leather, Lacquer, gold
Dimensions: 51.56 x 51.05 cm (20³/₁₀ x 20¹/₁₀ inches)
Provenance: Former collection J.Lico, Lisbon
Categories: Oriental and Asian Art, Works of Art