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Paul A. Lavy. A Lopburi Buddha at the Honolulu Museum of Art

One of the lesser-known highlights of the extensive Southeast Asia collection at the Honolulu Museum of Art is a stone Buddha sculpture acquired in July 1928 from museum founder Anna Charlotte (Rice) Cooke (1853-1934). Nothing is known about its provenance prior to its acquisition; the only information in museum records states that the piece was purchased through the Cooke family from ‘J. Burnay, Paris’. All indications are that this was Jean Burnay, a French legal adviser to the government of Siam (Thailand) and a scholar of Thai law and linguistics known primarily for publications that appeared in the period 1926-1941. Somewhat neglected over the years, the Buddha image recently attracted renewed interest as a result of its inclusion in the museum’s exhibition ‘4000 Years of Southeast Asian Art’ and it has subsequently been featured prominently in the museum’s Pan-Asian Buddhism gallery.

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