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Due to fine craftsmanship, antique furniture from Burma is some of the most prized and valuable pieces of furniture from Southeast Asia. Furniture from the British colonial era, which was made by the Burmese for the British, can be found in Burma today. Victorian campaign furniture, made by the British, for travels in Burma, India and other parts of SE Asia, can also be found in Burma on a lesser scale.

The furniture from the British colonial era was made for the British officers and their families. The furniture appears European in style, but with a closer look one can see the warmth of the Burmese influence. It was often simple and functional in style with subtle accents like, lotus shaped drawer handels or intricate carvings.

Much of the British colonial furniture was made from teak. Teak, at that time, was readily available and highly used due to its durability in strength and its weather resistant qualities. Because the furniture was made over fifty to a hundrend years ago, it is well grounded in form and very unlikely to crack or warp, even when it is transported to a dryer climate. The stability of antique wood is impossible to recreate with "green" or new teak wood, which is one of the reasons the British colonial furniture is so valuable.



Victorian campaign furniture, or "knock-down" furniture was used by the British army during the late 1700's to the early 1900's during military campaigns through Burma and India. As a symbol of the "grandur" of their newly claimed empire, high ranking officers set up tent life as extravagantley as their homes. Officers on campaign, could be accompanied by hundreds of horses, elephants and camels carrying the elaborate tent decor. Campaign furniture was constructed with the intent of travel. It could easily break down, pack , and set up in a few minutes. Campaign peices often have handles on the sides, recessed drawer handles, and flat surfaces so they are easily stacked for travel. This furniture could have easily fit into a modern London apartment of the day. The British were of a mind set to create an empire to befit a Roman king. Though the impearialist thinking has faded the exquisite furniture from this time still remains.



The culture of Burma has been heavily influenced by Buddhism and the Mon people. Its neighbours have made major contributions to Burmese culture. The style of Burma reflects its' geographic location between India and Thailand with its' ornate and intricate designs. The same care and detail is given to furniture and architectural elements as is given to palace and monastery decoration.

Purely classical Burmese design has a distinctly geometric and organic feel to it. By the turn of the 19th century, the British colonization of India and Burma had introduced Victorian and Edwardian design elements to a people that embraced the expansion of their ornamention vocabulary. Along with this, was the the abolition of the Konbaung Dynasty sumptuary laws which forbade commoners from building large or ornate structures [near the year 1880]. After this time we see a flooding of design in the personal items and homes of the Burmese people, eager to fit the international standards of sophistication.

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