Mythical bird-man

approx. 1775-1850

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum
San Francisco, United States

Mythical bird-men and bird-women are among the wondrous creatures that inhabit the Eden-like Himavanta Forest of Buddhist legend. They are frequently depicted in Thai sculptures, paintings, and other mediums. Wooden figures of bird-men such as this were used in several sorts of royal ceremonies. One such statue is mentioned in the description of the coronation of King Rama IV in 1851, where it is said to have contained a relic of the Buddha. The custom of using such figures in royal ceremonies most likely went back centuries. Such statues have rarely survived, and only a handful are known. Several are in the National Museum, Bangkok. The spire of this figure’s crown was replaced at some point, presumably in the twentieth century.


  • Title: Mythical bird-man
  • Date Created: approx. 1775-1850
  • Location Created: Central Thailand
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 125. 7 cm x W. 29.9 cm x D. 57.1 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Medium: Wood with remnants of lacquer, gilding, and mirrored glass inlay
  • Credit Line: Gift from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Southeast Asian Art Collection, 2006.27.24

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