A 19th century enamelled necklace with Footprint of Vishnu (Vishnupada) pendant, Indian
Lot 261
A 19th century enamelled necklace with Footprint of Vishnu (Vishnupada) pendant, Indian
Sold for £6,000 (US$ 9,630) inc. premium

Lot Details
A 19th century enamelled necklace with Footprint of Vishnu (Vishnupada) pendant, Indian
The twisted fancy-link chain strung with pearls and polychrome enamelled beads of various designs, suspending a lobed palmette pendant, decorated with the Feet of Vishnu, framed by a surround of birds and foliage, the reverse with an inscription that reads 'Sita Ram Ji' – an invocation to the Hindu God 'Ram' and his consort 'Sita', to a similar surround, all in enamel, the surmount set with a pearl with two suspension loops to either side, chain length 41cm, pendant length 28mm, width 33mm, pearls untested

Footnotes

  • The use of footprints to symbolise a deity has been an ancient practice in Buddhist, Jain and Hindu art and goes as far back as the 2nd century B.C. The continuing tradition in footprint motifs related to deities also owes to the Indian religio-cultural tradition of touching the feet of a revered person as a mark of respect. Of all the footprint symbols, Hindus consider the Vishnupada to be the most sacred. Vishnupada pendants commonly found include some or all of the symbols associated with Vishnu on the sole - the sun, bow, lotus, conch, swastika, moon, banner and mace. Vishnupada amulets are often found enamelled on gold and silver. Those on gold were, and still are, made in Jaipur and Nathadwara in Rajasthan.

    For further discussion on sacred footprint amulets and other examples, see Oppi Untracht, Traditional Jewelry of India, London, 1997, pp. 106-7.

    Provenance:

    The lot forms part of the private collection of a lady from the north of Scotland.

    The vendor had been aware of an attaché case in the family home that had been locked, and the key misplaced, for at least fifty and possibly for as long as seventy years, which was believed to be full of old family documents. Deciding to get rid of the case, it was thought that the contents should be checked before disposal and, to the vendor's great astonishment, this lot, as well as many others offered in the same auction, was found inside. The lots are formed from the collections of her grandmother and two maiden aunts.

    The vendor's grandmother was Austrian (hence the presence of some Continental pieces in the collection) and her grandfather British. They met in Switzerland and, as he was serving in the Highland Light Infantry, travelled extensively. A photograph of the family, taken in 1888, and reproduced in the auction catalogue, show him wearing trews as the HLI was the only Highland Regiment not to wear a kilt at this time. Her grandmother, seated, is wearing lot 260, a serpent brooch at her throat.
Auction information

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  1. Clare Blatherwick
    Specialist - Jewelry
    Bonhams
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