A TURQUOISE AND GOLD 'MOONEATER' (CHEPPU) LHASA, TIBET, CIRCA 1900

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Lot 601
A TURQUOISE AND GOLD 'MOONEATER' (CHEPPU)
LHASA, TIBET, CIRCA 1900

US$ 45,000 - 55,000
HK$ 350,000 - 430,000
A TURQUOISE AND GOLD 'MOONEATER' (CHEPPU)
LHASA, TIBET, CIRCA 1900
Inset with rubies and carnelian.
Himalayan Art Resources item no.16825
4 1/2 X 3 in. (11.4 x 7.6 cm)

Footnotes

  • 拉薩 西藏 約1900年 金嵌綠松石胸飾

    The magnificent brooch, known as a 'mooneater' (cheppu), epitomizes this most sought-after article of antique Tibetan jewelry. Until the late 1940s, 'mooneaters' were worn by Tibetan officials during New Year Festivals. This colloquialism derives from the festival's lunar calendar and the article having the appearance of a surmounting kirtimukha ('face of glory') biting into a large disc (moon). However, these components are ubiquitous Buddhist symbols, the disc represents a lotus, which signifies any being's ability to attain enlightenment regardless of their origin, and the kirtimukha is a talisman which protects the wearer from harm.

    Details within this example surpass most others and include the textured surfaces of the first concentric lotus band, the kirtimukha's face, and the vajra finial above, achieved through delicate carving. Moreover, the kirtimukha's face and limbs are delightfully embellished with carnelian, rubies, and gold. Furthermore, the back of the brooch is highly elaborate: the lower section fashioned with fine gold filigree work, and the upper section with two horizontal buckles. It was in response to such increasingly lavish articles that the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (r.1879-1933), imposed a sumptuary law limiting the expense of any one item of jewelry to 25,000 rupees.

    The present lot compares favorably with another 'mooneater' on the front cover of the Ghysels Collection catalog (Geoffroy-Schneiter, Bijoux des toits du monde, Geneva, 2012), as well as those in other esteemed collections of Tibetan jewelry, such as the Barbara and David Kipper Collection (Ghose (ed.), Vanishing Beauty, Chicago, 2016, p.100, nos.108-10) and the Mengdiexuan Collection (Xu (ed.), Jewels of Transcendence, Hong Kong, 2018, p.161, no.107).

    Provenance
    Private American Collection before 2000
Contacts
A TURQUOISE AND GOLD 'MOONEATER' (CHEPPU) LHASA, TIBET, CIRCA 1900
A TURQUOISE AND GOLD 'MOONEATER' (CHEPPU) LHASA, TIBET, CIRCA 1900
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