The Curator's Eye
This spectacular lidded vase is of solid silver, parcel gilding (gold plating) and has been inset with dozens of turquoise and coral cabochons. The vase sits on a flared foot. The body is in the form a of flattened sphere. The lid is tiered in a manner that evokes Mount Meru or perhaps a mandala and rises to a finial shaped as a vase of wish-fulfilling jewels.The foot has been engraved and chased with lotus petal motifs and as such symbolises an open lotus. The body has been chased with eight cartouches, each decorated with a deity dancing and holding either a musical instrument or an attribute, with each deity highlighted in gold. The background is of stylised clouds and leafy scrolls, all in relief. A frieze of eight gilded kala or kirtimukha masks is above this, interspersed by eight prominent plaques studded with coral and turquoise cabochons. The rim of the vase follows and this is marked with a rim of pearled silver. The lid sits in the rim, and this too has a pearled silver edge. The tiers of the lid are decorated in relief with Himalayan Buddhistic symbols and foliage and flowers. They finish with a lotus petal top from which the finial rises, which is decorated on both sides with large panels of inland turquoise.
Smoky Quartz "Gwindel", Dodo Mine, Pre-polar Ural Mtns., Western-Siberian Region, Russia
The form of this rare Gwindel Quartz is as good as it gets. A huge open gemmy smoky Gwindel rises up along the left side, the finest possible form having the most perfect graceful twist I have ever seen. The twist in this Gwindel defines the term itself - Gwindel, translated from German actually means "twisted". It is the most textbook open twist imaginable, as if someone drew up the most perfect possible crystallography.


Copper, Phelps Dodge Chino Mine, Grant Co., New Mexicoe
This Copper is from a unique find in 2001. The crystallization is exceptional, a "freak" of nature so to speak. Every crystal on the piece is sharp, well formed (nearly all are spinel twins) with amazing definition. It is among the finest and most important Copper specimens I know of. When we speak of the best of the best Coppers, we are always discussing Michigan or Arizona, some might also include Itauz Mine in Kazakhstan. That's really it - 3 localities in the entire world that matter. Now we must add in the New Mexico. This piece must be placed into the same top tier.
Rare Gilded & Enamelled Silver Hookah Base, India, 18th century
Showing Europeans Sailing Ships & Europeans. This remarkable enamelled, gilded (gold-plated) silver hookah base is the only known example of which we are aware that shows European sailing ships and European themes. It has a wonderful form with its wide, flat foot and curving sides. The champleve enamel is in blues, green, yellow and red. The overall theme is of water and fecundity - animals such as elephants, tigers, and gazelles, and birdlife including peacocks abound.


Gilded & Pierce Makara, Tibet, circa 13th century
This exceptionally fine, pierced image of a fantastic makara or sea monster is of gilded (gold-plated) copper alloy. The makara has a long curling snout, a flame-like tongue and a wonderful, elaborate tail - or is emerging from churning water, so that the 'tail' is actually frothing water (Casey et al, 2003, p. 134). Most probably, it was part of a larger aureole or torana or backing plate on a Tibetan Buddhist altar or a prabhamandala or throneback for a deity.
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