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South East Asian Art and Antiques, & Antiquarian, Rare and Collectable books
South East Asian Art and Antiques, & Antiquarian, Rare and Collectable books

Burmese Nat, seated figurine - Amay Yay Yin also known as Yeyin Kadaw or Amay Gyi


Burmese Nat, seated figurine - Amay Yay Yin also known as Yeyin Kadaw or Amay Gyi

The 2 cobras in her hands donate she is Amay Yay Yin, also known as Yeyin Kadaw. Amay Yay yin means mother of the stream of soft water underground. Inhabitants of Pontaung Ponnya along the Yinma area portray her as amay-gyi (great mother).

During the reign of Alaungsithu in Bagan there was a queen called Nagasena (who was also known as a flying witch). At that time on the opposite side of the river from Bagan there lived five siblings who were eaters of the area, among the habitat of Kadu Kanan ethnic group in Pontaung Ponnya. The four sisters of the nesa (eater of the area) were skilled in the arts of gandari. At one time while eating clouds the queen held a grudge against (the sisters).

The queen lost in the competition of occult arts. With the help of Kaway Thara Bo Bo Gyi (lit.-grandfather, a title given to old and learned person) the youngest sister Saw Nan Mu’s soul was put into a gourd and was buried under the sea. In resentment queen Nagasena informed King Alaungsithu about her bad dream.She dreamt that the five siblings were going to seize the throne. The King summoned the siblings to come to the palace for interrogation. The King ordered Bo Bo Gyi to capture the five siblings and on the way he met Saw Nan Mu (Mother Yay Yin).

When Bo Bo Gyi put his hand into the pot of oil which Saw Nan Mu carried on her head, he was struck by a snake and died. The solders seized Saw Nan Mu, brought her to the palace and interrogated in the presence of her brother Kadu Nesa. Alaungsithu ordered that Kadu Nesa must execute his sister Saw Nan Mu himself. Having no heart to kill his own sister, both of them ran away and fell into a chasm and died. As their death was caused by the king of Bagan, Saw Nan Mu decided to revenge. She intended to destroy Bagan and on her way she met Sakka (king of celestial deities) who stopped her. Sakka asked her occult arts as an offering to him. Saw Nan Mu was conferred to be the owner of Pontaung Ponnya area, on the  other side of Chindwin River, opposite Bagan and came to be known as Amay Yay-Yin.

If a well is dug about 300 feet anywhere in the area where Amay Yay-Yin rules, water gushes out naturally to the surface of the earth through the water pipes. Currently there are ninety-nine water reservoirs in Yinmabin Township where AmayYay-Yin’s shrine is situated .

During the festival of Amay Yay-Yin people from the area of Pontaung Ponnya come to offer bananas, coconut, flowers and Eugenia sprigs at the shrine. Nat worshippers with dance and music and traditional songs, most songs are expreseds for her life. They believe that Amay Yay-Yin will help them prosper in agriculture, business, etc.

She is a Nat, from pre-Buddhist animist beliefs of Burmese people. These are a group of supernatural beings, or nature spirits, of which there is special group of 37 ‘royal’ Nats. This particular Nat lies inside this royal pantheon.

Nat worship sill occurs in Burmese society alongside Buddhism which is the prevalent religion. It is much more common in rural areas.

Paint on wood, with inscription on dark red base. The carving and decoration is well executed and detailed.

17.3cm high x 5.5cm deep x 6.3cm wide

20th Century.