A gem-set gold pendant in the form of a bird, Mughal or Deccan, 17th century
Lot 262
A fine gem-set gold pendant in the form of a Bird, Mughal India or Deccan, 17th Century
Sold for £32,450 (US$ 55,339) inc. premium
Auction Details
A gem-set gold pendant in the form of a bird, Mughal or Deccan, 17th century
Lot Details
A fine gem-set gold pendant in the form of a Bird,
Mughal India or Deccan, 17th Century
depicted with open wings and holding a pearl in its beak, the front set with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, a large emerald on the breast, the gold work with finely chased detail, the back engraved with naturalistic feather markings, four pearls attached to the wings with wire, the trilobed tail with an emerald bead suspension, the upper wings with suspension loops
the pendant 5.2 cm. high (excl. beads)

Footnotes

  • Provenance: English private collection.

    A dove depicted frontally with open wings symbolises the Holy Spirit in Christianity. A motif widely used by Christians, including Catholics in India, the dove was known to the Mughal court as early as 1580 when Akbar was presented with a copy of the Polyglot Bible or Pietatis Concordiae by Pieter van der Borcht, the opening page of which is surmounted by an image of the dove symbolising the Holy Spirit.

    Whilst the bird's tail is not fan-shaped, but pointed more like a bird of prey, the wings are small like a dove's. Representations of doves can still be seen in two 17th Century churches in Goa: Francis of Assisi in Old Goa; and the main altar at the Jesuit church in Rachol.

    When Christianity was first introduced into India, the dove was the symbol with which local Christian women replaced the jewel traditionally worn, known as murtunim or mangala-sutra, which the Hindu husband usually places around his wife's neck during the wedding ceremony; and this practice continued until the late 19th Century when it was replaced by the cross.

    The existence of Catholic communities throughout India explains the existence of a variety of jewels of dove form. This does not mean that such pieces were made exclusively for Catholics nor only represented the Holy Spirit, but there can be little doubt that Christianity was their inspiration. The presence of suspension loops on birds of this type confirms that it would have been worn as a pendant. Since so few pendants of this type are known, it might indicate that they were intended for privileged Catholics, although their use by non-Catholics cannot be discounted. For further discussion, see Moura Carvalho, Pedro, ""Rarities from Goa at the courts of Humayun, Akbar and Jahangir (1530-1627)" in Flores, Jorge and Nuno Vasallo e Silva, Goa and the Great Mughal, Lisbon, 2004, pp. 106-8

    For a similar bird from this small, rare group in the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait (inv. no. LNS 2218J), attributed to the first half of the 17th Century, Mughal India or Deccan, see Manuel Keene and Sue Kaoukji, Treasury of the World, London, 2001,p. 53, no. 4.5.
Activities
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. Matthew Thomas
    Specialist - Islamic and Indian Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8270
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8283