|19th century, Jaipur, India |
This fabulous pair of bracelets are remarkable for their quality. They are of either solid gold (most similar examples were of thin gold sheet over a lac core) or very thick gold and appear to have been cast rather than made from hammered sheet. Each is inset with 73 diamonds and dozens of rubies. The quantity used of precious stones is unusual. The enamel work is of the highest quality, as is the modelling of the heads of the makaras. Undoubtedly, this pair is among the best examples of this type of bangle or bracelet ever made in Jaipur.
Each bracelet has a champleve cobalt-blue enamel ground on the exterior, inset in kundan settings with dozens of large, table-cut diamonds arrayed in flower motifs.
The ends terminate in fabulously-modelled pairs of opposed makara heads with gold grounds overlaid with red and blue enamel, diamond highlights and razor teeth finely rendered in white enamel. The eyers are set with agate cabochons. The mouths are open and reveal tongues, each made of a ruby cabochon shaped as a tongue and hinged so that it can move.
The snub noses of each makara are inlaid on both sides with rose-cut diamonds. The necks of the makaras are overlaid with cobalt-blue enamel set with table-cut diamonds. These lead to fine collars set with rubies in pressure settings whereby the stones are held in place by each other rather than being supported by metal claws or frames.
The bracelets open by a screw mechanism. Each is fitted with a gold crew topped in a box setting with a single rose-cut diamond (a corresponding false diamond-headed screw is on the other side of the bracelet). The makara heads then lift out, allowing greater ease for the wearer to slip in their wrist.
The interiors of the bracelets are decorated with sprays of red tulips and green leaves against a white ground embellished with fine gold wire striping. The regions between the white and cobalt-blue grounds are marked by a thin band of powder blue and gold.
The makara is a mythological creature with a fish-like body and the head of a crocodile or an elephant. It is a symbol of the creative and destructive forces of life and is associated with different deities. The makara's open jaws and the rows of sharp teeth emphasise its fearsome character.
This style of bracelet was produced in both Varanasi (Benares) as well as Jaipur. Jaipur became an important centre for stone cutting and enamelling by the eighteenth century. Most of the top enamellers are believed to have been Sikhs. Indeed, it is believed that the type of bracelet here was intended for Sink nobles to wear at court.
The dating on the bracelets is likely to be 19th century rather than earlier. However, similar bracelets in the Al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait have been ascribed a 17th-18th century dating (Keane, 2001, p. 81). Two related, though arguably less opulent, pairs in the Al Thani Collection are illustrated in Jaffer (2013, p. 197) where they have been ascribed to the second half of the nineteenth century.
We believe that this pair of bracelets are among the best ever made of their type and are superior to those in published collections.
|A related single bracelet is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Another is in the Victoria & Albert Museum |
The bracelets here are in superb condition. Several of the table-cut diamonds have inclusion-related cracks but there are no losses to the stones or replacements and no obvious loss to the enamel.
References:Dye, J.M., The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Philip Wilson Publishers, 2001.Jaffer, A. (ed.), Beyond Extravagance: A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels, Assouline, 2013.Keane, M., Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals - The Al-Sabah Collection Kuwait National Museum, Thames & Hudson, 2001.Sharma, R.D. & M. Varadarajan, Handcrafted Indian Enamel Jewellery, Roli Books, 2004.
|Provenance: Private collection|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
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