Maung Shwe Yon was a highly acclaimed 19th-century master silversmith from Rangoon. Harry L Tilly, the aforementioned British expert on Burmese art, was effusive in his praise for Maung Shwe Yon. He described one of his pierced bowls as ‘the best example of this kind of work ever produced’ in his 1902 monograph, The Silverwork of Burma.
As China and the West look at decoupling, it’s worth remembering that the world has been through this several times since they first coupled three-quarters of the way through the 16th century. That’s when the Manila Galleon connected Asia and the Americas, a trade that was, to mix metaphors, oiled by silver.
The vast majority of silverware in Thailand does not possess any reign or maker’s mark or other indicator as to date or place of manufacture. Most of the marks found are Chinese “chop marks”, stamped onto the underside of the silver object, perhaps with the aim of validating authenticity. Sometimes, the Chinese characters were transliterated into Thai from the Chaozhou dialect although this never became common practice.
Not only is The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver a useful companion to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum exhibition of the same name, the catalog has enough material, extending well beyond the exhibition, to be a valuable volume in its own right.