By Maung Tha (Archaeology), Translated by Than Tun Aung
There remain a large number of royal appearances in the right and left orders in late Konbaung and Yadanabon eras as Myanmar’s historical and cultural heritages. In 1885 when Myanmar lost its independence, the royal appearances and precious jewellery items lost under the rule of colonialists.
Among them, Myanmar regained 141 items of royal appearances including Thiha Thana throne from Kolkata Museum in the post-independence era, and these items were put on display at the National Museum (Yangon).
Shwebon Nidan compiled by Zeya Thinkhaya showed 26 items of royal appearances which took positions for both 13 items each of royal appearances in left and right orders. But, the National Museum displayed 17 items of royal appearances in the right side and 18 items in left.
Thiha Thana throne
There were eight kinds of thrones on the list of royal appearances. Thiha Thana throne was located at ground tier-roofed hall and Zetawun Hall of the court, Bhamaya Thana throne at the glass hall, Paduma Thana throne at west Zetawun hall, Hantha Thana throne at east Zetawun hall, Gaza Thana throne at Byetaik hall, Thinkha Thana throne at Laytha hall, Miga Thana throne at South Samok hall and Mayura Thana throne at North Samok hall. Currently, original Thiha Thana throne and duplicates for the remaining seven thrones can be observed at the National Museum (Yangon).
In Myanmar, Thiha Thana throne where the king sat in the trials of the court was the grandest and most splendid. Thiha Thana throne in Pali means the seat based on lion statues. It also means the best and noblest seat for the king. In the Konbaung era, the throne was placed at ground tier-roofed hall and Zetawun Hall.
The king and the queen sitting on Thiha Thana throne at ground tier-roofed hall accepted respects paid by royal families, Saophas and counsellors of the court on New Year day, start and end of Buddhist Lent. The ceremony of New Year day to pay respects was held on 40th days from Atet Day of Maha Thingyan festival, on the start of Buddhist Lent on 1st Waning of Waso and the end of Buddhist Lent on 1st Waning of Thadingyut.
At that time, the king and the queen sat on Thiha Thana throne flanked by four white royal umbrellas in both sides. The king sat on Thiha Thana throne in the ground hall while receiving foreign diplomats and taking oaths of the servants.
Thiha Thana throne placed at the royal court was sat by the king to release the orders and perform trials for judicial affairs. If the king did not attend it, the crown prince, the prince for the royal court or any minister, on behalf of the king, conducted trials of court while touching the throne by a hand. In fact, anyone was not allowed to sit on Thiha Thana throne except the king and the queen.
Thiha Thana throne from the foot to the top is 34.5 feet high, from the foot to the place of the queen, 5 feet and 11 inches high and the door, 7.5 feet high, according to the book on Myanmar’s royal appearances written by veteran historian Dr Than Tun.
Display of white royal umbrellas and royal equipment in both right and left sides of Thiha Thana throne means royal appearances which centred Thiha Thana throne. The royal white folded paper mentioned the throne was flanked by Kambu and Sanda white umbrellas in the right side and Kanekkadan and Suriya white umbrellas in the left side. White umbrellas were made of textile decorated with the gold jingle bell, banyan leave, star, pearl, coral, diamond, emerald and ruby. Umbrella stock was 13 feet and three inches long.
The dictionary on Vocabulary of Royal Palace mentioned displays of royal appearances. In addition to royal white umbrellas, other umbrellas namely Paduma, Thamuti, Thamuddaraza and Withakyon were opened. Lotus betel box, the betel box based on lion statue, long boat-shaped betel container, the decorative motif of regalia, Kyatlya, shoes, slippers, yak fan, four-edged dagger, staff, jug based on lion statue, long-necked pot, chin supporter, iron stable and goblet were placed in the left side of the king.
Right royal appearances were betel clip, large long boat-shaped betel container, small quartz lotus, large quartz lotus, betel cup based on dragon statue, octagonal-shaped betel cup, large ornament, long- necked pot, goglet, a tray for drinking water, goblet, jug and jewellery decorated box, hard fan and royal multicolour flags.
Dancers and musicians were accommodated in sheds in both sides of the tier-roofed hall in addition to musical instruments for Anyeint troupe and Mon ethnic musical instruments. Ladder to the royal ground hall was protected in either side by guards against unconcerned persons except those involved in the royal appearances.
A total of 226 seats were displayed in the left side and 225 seats on the right side at the royal ceremonies. Ranks of the left side were higher than that of the right side.
Left-wing of royal appearances
Lotus betel box involved in left royal appearances were regalia of Yodaya king. It was used in Mandalay royal palace. It was made of gold for keeping a hand on it as well as for using as betel box. Long boat shaped betel container was decorated with jewellery items. The betel box based on lion statue was made of gold as regalia of King Vijayabahu of Sri Lanka.
The betel box decorated with reliefs of 12 zodiacal signs and pieces of ruby and gems on gold ornaments was called 12 zodiacal sign betel box. It was 18.5 inches high and mouth of the box, 20 inches wide.
A 1.92 feet high gold pot with floral designs was decorated with pieces of ruby which were presented by Linzin king to Pinya Taseeshin King.
Kyatlya was in the shape of a rectangular box, 17.23 inches high. The gold box was decorated with pieces of ruby which were regalia of Thaton’s kings.
The royal shoes made of nine gems, 11.53 inches long is displayed the National Museum. The forehead of the shoes was made of gold. It was not real footweare but was displayed for royal appearances. The 10.82 inches long slippers decorated with pieces of ruby and straps were filled with pieces of gold.
Yak fan’s handle was decorated with gold and nine gems. The fan was made of yak hairs as a royal appearance of King U Aung Zeya. Its handle was 23 inches long, and Yak hairs were 16 inches long.
The four-edged dagger used by King Alaung Mintayar was displayed on the left wing. The iron dagger, 30 inches long, was installed with wooden handle kept in velvet decorated with red stones.
Gold jars were 15.5 inches high and 19 inches in diameter, decorated with pieces of the ruby. But, gold goblet, chin supporter, long the necked pot decorated with gold, ruby and diamond and staff were made as duplicates.
Tidantaka is tripod installed with handle for keeping a jug. Its base was gilt decorated with two lines of ruby pieces and the top, one line of ruby pieces. It was 18.11 inches in height and 0.98 inch in diameter.
Right-wing of royal appearances
Such wing comprised gold betel basket decorated with pieces of ruby which was equipment of Tagaung dynasty, the triple gold betel box, and the betel tray based on four dragons. They are displayed as duplicates at the National Museum.
Octagonal shaped betel boxes, 19 inches in height and 16 inches in diameter, were one of regalia for the crown prince to submit betel leaves to the king.
Long gold boat shaped betel container decorated with pieces of ruby was 21 inches in height and 24 inches in diameter. Another two equipment were gold lotus-shaped oil lamps which were regalia of King Patikkara presented to King Anawrahta, according to Shwebon Nidan.
The gold cup in shapes of sun and moon was 8.85 inches high and 11.8 inches wide. Its brim was decorated with pieces of the ruby. Goglet was 15.5 inches high and seven inches wide. Its lid was 17.5 inches in height and 6.5 inches in diameter. Spittoon and water pot stand and wine cup-shaped tray were seen as duplicates. Makan jar, 24.8 inches high and 9,5 inches wide, was made of gold. A 28 inches high alms-bowl made of gold threads was decorated with pieces of ruby, emerald and pearl.
Despite no involvement, valuable gold wares, costumes, royal furniture, paintings and sculptures, writs, palm leaves and folded papers, emblems, royal letters and orders, knives and spears, tier-roofed buildings and vehicles remain as Myanmar cultural heritages.
Most of the royal appearances gathered at the National Museum were made in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were more than 100 years old. As equipment of royal appearances is displayed not only at home but at museums in other countries, these royal appearances uplift prestige of grand and splendid royal pieces of evidence of Myanmar.