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Gold Earrings (Kathila)
Kerala, South India
late 19th century

length: 4.2cm, combined weight: 16.21g

This fine pair of ear ornaments of inverted pyramid form and known as kathila comes from Kerala state on the western side of India's southern tip. They are of
hollow sheet gold and have been stamped with floral designs and further decorated with applied granulation work.

The shape appears to be based on a fruit or perhaps the banana flower.

They were worn in Kerala by Mappila Muslim women but made by Hindu goldsmiths. The Mapilas grew wealthy from their trade with Arab merchants from the
Gulf.

The tops of the ear ornaments open with a hinge mechanism. Other than superficial minor denting from age and wear, the two are in fine condition.

See Bala Krishnan (2005, p. 116) and Ganguly (2007, p. 152) for related pairs.

References:
Aitken, M.E., When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, Asia Society & Philip Wilson Publishers, 2004.
Bala Krishnan, U.R.
et al, Icons in Gold: Jewelry of India from the Collection of the Musee Barbier-Mueller, Somogy, 2005.
Ganguly, W.,
Earrings: Ornamental Identity and Beauty in India, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2007.

Provenance: UK art market

Inventory no.: 5062 RESERVED

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