Three large gold amulets (taveez) South India, probably Tamil Nadu, 19th/ 20th Century(3)

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Lot 133
Three large gold amulets (taveez)
South India, probably Tamil Nadu, 19th/ 20th Century
(3)

£ 8,000 - 12,000
US$ 10,000 - 15,000
Three large gold amulets (taveez)
South India, probably Tamil Nadu, 19th/ 20th Century
each of biconical form fabricated from sheet gold and strung on black thread, decorated with concentric registers, divided in two with a central band of horizontal angular ribs
the largest 19cm. long (the bead) 624 g. (total weight)(3)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Anouska Hempel, Lady Weinberg.

    The form of the present lot is closely related to forms found in silver bead necklaces (sarad) made for the Toda people of the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu (see Oppi Untracht, Traditional Jewellery of India, London, 2008, p. 227, figs. 468 and 469). These necklaces were hung around the necks of water buffalo to act as protection. They were later produced in differing sizes and worn by humans of varying social status, with gold versions of the form thought to be the most rare. It has been suggested that the angular ribs around the centre are inspired by the form of the carambola fruit indigenous to the region.

    Provenance
    Anouska Hempel, Lady Weinberg. Acquired London, 1986-87.

    Gold braid ornaments of this type are worn by Hindu brides and Bharatnatyam dancers and, previously, devadasis or temple dancers. Both a woman's braid and the braid ornaments which adorn them are imbued with symbolism and meaning: the three threads of a braid are said to represent the confluence of the three most important rivers in India; the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. Furthermore, the three threads can be said to symbolise the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

    A common poetic conceit equates the braid with a serpent with associations of wealth and fertility, compounded in the jadai nagam with a many-headed cobra atop the serpentine body. Worship of snakes as minor deities is common in Hinduism, perhaps most simply as a measure to protect against falling victim to one, but also thanks to the phallic symbolism of the snake and thereby the associated links with fertility. Cobras are especially significant due to their connection with Shiva in his form as the God of destruction; depictions of cobras in their attack pose with raised hood and three, five, seven, nine or eleven heads is often used in Indian art and jewellery and is thought to hold protective qualities for the wearer. The serpent Ananta, or Shesha, on whom Vishnu reclines floating on the cosmic ocean is also often depicted in jewellery, reminiscent of the endless cycle of creation, preservation and destruction.

    "I recall travelling through India with my great friend Parmesh Godrej, meeting the great and the good, sitting with her in the Pink Palace in Jaipur.

    Hundreds of ladies in their multi coloured saris – one by one taking their turn to present to the ladies of the Palaces - Jodphur Hemlata, Jaipur Padmini and Parmesh.

    I watched with fascination the South Indian ladies all the way from Kerala with their little cloth wrapped stashes. Hence the seed was sown, the ground was laid!

    The collection, now in the hands of Bonhams, hopefully will reach the new owners with the same enthusiasm and excitement.

    Having travelled and worked in Turkey and restored a small palace in Istanbul this jewellery collection has influenced my lighting designs, tap designs and floor patterns.

    Gardens with the Mogul touch and various other elements of design have come from this collection. Projects in Brazil, Paris, Singapore, Santiago and Rabat have similar touches.

    Seems odd! Well there it is and while I think about it - the other great influence during my time in India was Ismail Merchant."


    – Anouska Hempel
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