THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY HONG KONG presents "The Shan of Burma" by Lady Conway, PhD on
Friday, 15 February 2008 The Jardine Penthouse, 48/F Jardine House, One Connaught Place
Penthouse opens 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm We are delighted to welcome to speak to the Society, Dr. Lady Conway, to lecture on The Shan of Burma. The lecture tells the story of the extraordinary Shan people of Burma, illustrated by fabulous slides showing both the incredible colour of the people, their paintings and their fabulous mountainous setting. This lecture involves a journey through the Shan States, illustrating the way of life of the people who dwell in the upland valleys. The villages of wood and bamboo houses, built on stilts, are surrounded by kitchen gardens. Many farm activities, such as raising small animals, drying crops and weaving and dyeing yarn, take place in the cool areas under the houses. The people are Theravada Buddhists and the unique architecture of their temples, and the magnificent gilt and lacquer interiors, are beautifully illustrated. Before the 1960s, the Shan States were made up of principalities ruled by princes who dwelled in gilded and lacquered teak palaces, first under the sovereignty of the British monarchs and then the Burmese government. Although many palaces have been destroyed since then, the lecture includes illustrations of remaining palace buildings, their interiors, furniture and royal costumes from the 19th century courts. A number of historical photographs from museum and private collections in the United Kingdom, many previously unpublished, place this lecture in a unique and historical context. Lady Conway (Susan) has worked in inland Southeast Asia since she graduated with a fine arts degree in 1983. Dr. Lady Conway is a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, from which she received her doctorate. From 20002004 she was Adjunct Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Parsons, New School University, New York. She is a world expert on the anthropology, paintings and textiles of Southeast Asia. Dr. Lady Conway was involved in the first major team project to record and photograph the temple mural paintings of Lan Na (north Thailand) and Issan (northeast Thailand), funded by the Ford Foundation. This involved travelling to Buddhist monasteries in remote villages of the region at a time when there were no official records of the number of temples, or appreciation of their original artistic and architectural style. On her return to the UK she put this aspect of the work, together with a loan of historic textiles and dress, to curate the first Thai exhibition of its kind to be held in the United Kingdom. This led to a book "Thai Textiles" which brought together an historical account of dress and textiles, using temple mural painting photographs as illustrations, and enlarging on her earlier work in Burma, with emphasis on the cultural significance of textiles. Since then she has published books on the Shan States of Burma ("The Shan: Culture Arts and Crafts") and the culture, arts and crafts of north Thailand ("Silken Threads, Lacquer Thrones"). She has also contributed to many books, including "Burma: Art and Archaeology", "Through the Thread of Time" and "Myth, Status and the Supernatural". Copies of her new book "The Shan: Culture, Arts and Crafts" are to be available for order at the lecture. This lecture is being held in the fine surroundings of the Jardine Penthouse. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend at HK$100 for Members, HK$150 for Members' guests and $200 for others.