A rare South Indian carved emerald figurine, 18th century
Lot 145N*
A rare South Indian carved emerald figurine, 18th century
Sold for £78,050 (US$ 122,486) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare South Indian carved emerald figurine, 18th century
composed of two sections each carved from Colombian emeralds of good colour, the upper section with a gold framed ruby set into the plain headdress, the lower section with carved necklace, originally with inlaid pendant, gold bazubands and carved bracelets originally set with gems, the head 8 mm. high and 2.05 carats; the torso 11 mm. high and 6.6 carats

Footnotes

  • The varied styles of South Indian jewellery of the 17th to 19th centuries have come to light particularly due to recent surveys of collections of temple jewellery made for deities and secular jewellery. Carved gem figures such as this are rare, but must be related to carved ivories and cameos much favoured at the Mughal court and copied by resident lapidary artisans. A carved sapphire figure of a Hindu saint, formerly in the Rothschild Collection, and dated to the 17th/18th century bears similarities in its treatment of the head and the present example should be seen as a direct relation of this tradition (Michael Spink ed., Islamic and Hindu Jewellery, exhibition catalogue, London, 1988, no. 48).

    The Glenconner figurine, however, is flat to the reverse which indicates it may formerly have been laid into a setting of a similar type to a Golpalakrishna temple pendant in the Qatar Museum, Doha. The facial features on both the emerald and the figures of Krishna and two consorts in the pendant are distinguished by their serene expressions which entered South Indian ritual jewellery vocabulary under the influence of Mughal portraiture and European realism. In addition, in the Qatar example, dated to the 17th century, all three figures wearing a gem-set headband similar to that depicted on the emerald.( "Figurative Gopalakrishna Temple Pendant", in Leng Tan (ed.), Jewelled treasures from Mughal Courts, exhibition catalogue, Doha, 2002, p. 46).

    The Glenconner figurine is a rare and wonderful carving, and presents fascinating testimony to lapidary carving in South India.

    For further reading:

    Nandagopal, Dr. C and Iyengar, V. Temple Jewellery: Vol II Temple Jewellery, Crafts Council of Karnataka, 1997.
    Untracht, O. Traditional Jewelery of India, London, 1997.
    Sivaramamurti, C., South Indian Bronzes, New Delhi, 1963 and 1981.
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