Figure of Thagyamin


Figure of Thagyamin



The figure is likely the deity Thagyamin (Burmese), or Sakka in the Pali canon, identified with Indra, the chief of the gods in the Vedic pantheon. While Indra’s role diminished in classical Hinduism, he held an important place in Buddhism, as head of the Buddhist deities residing on Mount Meru in the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods and also as chief of the indigenous spirits, or nats, often classed together as the Thirty-seven Lords. He is generally shown standing, holding in one hand his three- or four-sided sword, and dressed as a Burmese king during the Konbaung period (1752–1885). In some depictions, he holds a tablet and a pen or stylus, emblematic of his role as one who records rights and wrongs accumulated through life and rewards or punishes individuals accordingly. Sakka appears in the early Buddhist murals of Pagan, usually holding a conch, another of his major attributes. At the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, life-size figures of Thagyamin surround the base of the pagoda. Thagyamin is often paired in art with Brahma, another deity dear to the Pali pantheon. Both deities accompanied the Buddha from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods after the Buddha had instructed his mother on key Buddhist principles.
Sir D.J. Tata Collection.


South East Asian Art

Object Type



Ivory and wood






20th century CE




Height 13 cm (with pedestal)