Antique Ox Cart with Chinthe Lion, Burma/Myanmar (11306FSE) $325


H: 14.5”  W: 17.75”  D: 3.375” | FREE SHIPPING!

Finely carved figures were attached to ox cart yokes to protect farmers from malevolent spirits who inhabited all seen and unseen sectors of their environment. This beautifully carved ox cart yolk was created in the image of a chinthe, (the word for lion) a mythical creature commonly represented in Burma to decorate a multiplicity of everyday items. Considered a propitious spiritual and protective guardian figure, the chinthe symbolizes power, courage, and strength. This carving displays the common characteristics of singhas with a long face with large eyes, a long sharp nose, a long draping lion-like beard, and a flame-like shape on the top of his head. He stands on all four legs holding his beard that extends from his open roaring mouth with sharply pointed teeth that combine elegance with strong beast-like strength. He is masterfully carved with careful attention to details like the deeply incised hairs that cover his body. For functional reasons, the piece is in two parts held together with a wooden plug. Even though it was for daily use, Burmese craftsmen created beautiful objects and finished them with the best materials they could afford. This piece was originally covered with lacquer, most of which has faded with use over time.  It is in good condition with losses to his left side, fading surface, and wear consistent with its age and use.


Historically ox carts (also called bullock carts) were the primary means of transportation in Burma/Myanmar for plowing, hauling or transporting. Inexpensive and adaptable to any terrain, ox carts were used to tend fields and to carry goods, agricultural products, lumber, and people. In Burma, as elsewhere in Asia, oxen were preferred over horses because they were cheaper, tougher, quieter, and easier to maintain, especially in inhospitable terrain. Farmers used two or four-wheeled carts in their fields that were pulled by one or a pair of oxen. The animals were hitched to the cart by a special chain or rope attached to a wooden yoke, the wooden bar between and securing a pair of oxen that allowed drivers to pull them in a tandem pair. In Burma, Buddhism, and animism beliefs that mythical creatures and spirits live in sentient and non-sentient beings affect all parts of daily life. Prior to the 20th century, most farmers believed that these mythical beings could be positive or negative and required the presence of guardian figures to propitiate them to protect the farmers, their crops, and their extended worlds. Often oxcart yokes were surmounted with masterfully carved animal and figural images to protect the farmer and his family. A Chinthe  (mystical part lion/part bull figures) and hamsas (swan-like birds) were among the most common figures depicted on carts. They are the less playful Burmese version of Chinese and Japanese fu lion, and pairs of them often guard the entrance of a pagoda and temple all over Burma. Their imposing and more frightful appearance was probably inspired by native Burmese mythology and artistic traditions. Although Burma is a decidedly Buddhist country, its past was steeped in animism and shamanism that included the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence that  influence human life and, therefore, deserve worship and offerings to bring positive energy and keep malevolent spirits at bay.


Matthew Laird Acred, editor for Åsisbiz, “Bullock Carts of Myanmar

Fredrick W Bunce, A Dictionary of Buddhist and Hindu Iconography, D.K Printworld, New Delhi 2001

Facts and Details Contributors, “Nats (spirits) and Animism in Myanmar, in facts and details,”

Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Temple Lion (Chinthe)”,

U. Aye Myint, My Country Myanmar, Animals and Birds, Goldenland Pages

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique (1200-1920)

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 14.5" W: 7" D: 2.5” On stand: Ht: 14.5” W: 17.78” D: 3.375”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 36.83cm W: 17.78cm D: 6.35cm On stand: Ht: 36.83cm W: 17.78cm D: 8.5725cm


2 lbs 8oz


Good condition, see description

Item Number


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