A Big Thank You to our Burmese Manuscript Supporters

The Society is delighted to announce that we have successfully raised the £1820 necessary to fund the conservation of our Burmese Kammavaca manuscript and its rare woven braid (sazigyo). These funds have all come from individual donations from the Society’s members and supporters. It is a wonderful example of the good that can result when people who are passionate about cultural heritage come together to support a deserving cause. We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to this project, and will be writing to each of you in the coming weeks to express our thanks. We will also use our social media feeds to provide updates on the conservation work as it progresses over the summer, so keep your eyes peeled for more news!

 RAS Burmese 86 (Kammavaca)
The sazigyo (woven braid) which will now be conserved

And still on a conservation theme, on Tuesday 21 May, we enjoyed a lecture by conservator, Cheryl Porter, Director of the Montefiascone Project. Her lecture was intriguingly entitled “Painting manuscripts with metals and insects: grind or flatten, catch and cook” and she looked at the use of both gold and silver in manuscript illumination and how their colours can vary according to the chemical constituents and process of application. Cheryl also spoke on the use of the lac secreted by lac insects. This resin produces a reddish purple colour and is seen in early manuscripts – new analysis has shown that it use was much more widespread than previously acknowledged. Cheryl had recently been to India to see modern methods of growing and harvesting the lac insects and the production of the dye for current use. It was fascinating to find out about the whole process. The resin itself (being shellac) also has multiple uses, found in a range of products including polish, in printing dyes, in electrical conductors, and is used in, among others, the cosmetic, hat, footwear, paint and photographic industries. To find out more about Cheryl’s trip and the new discoveries concerning lac, as well as the uses of gold and silver, you can listen to the podcast of her talk.

Cheryl Porter (with Freya Stark looking on)

Next week, on Wednesday 29th May, from 6pm, we welcome Dominic Faulder, author of Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand, who will be launching his book and speaking about Thailand’s former prime minister and elder statesman. Faulder’s book recounts the key events in Anand Panyarachun’s long life including his childhood in Bangkok during the Second World War through to the derailment of his diplomatic career in 1976, his two unexpected tenures as an appointed prime minister, his role in the drafting the ‘People’s Constitution’ of 1997. This authorised biography is based on six years of in-depth research, over 60 interviews with Anand himself, and with more than 100 others who have encountered or worked closely alongside him.

Originally from London, Dominic Faulder has been based in Bangkok since the early 1980s and has worked for numerous news organisations and publications. He was previously a special correspondent with the Hong Kong newsweekly Asiaweek, and had particular involvement in the coverage of Burma/Myanmar and Cambodia in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been an associate editor with the Tokyo-based Nikkei Asian Review since 2014. We look forward to welcoming many of you to this lecture.