Enamelled & Niello Silver Book Binding Georgia 18th-19th century
height: 9.8cm, width when folded: 7.4cm, width when open: 15.7cm, weight: 145g
This fine silver binding for a small book is chased, enamelled and nielloed. The form and enamelling decoration is similar to silver Gospel covers in the Kalfayan Collection of Armenian art (see Hassiotis, 2010, p, 62) although the script on the covers here - on the spine in niello, and on the front in applied silver filigree - is in Georgian Mkhedruli script.
Mkhedruli script was used in Georgia for non-religious purposes (a different form of script was used for religious purposes) in the 18th and 19th centuries so although these covers look like they were intended to bind the Gospels or Bible, their purpose might have been secular. (A translation of the script is not currently available.)
In any event, the covers are rare. Few such examples seem to have survived.
The main cover is decorated with a combination of chasing with remnants of gilding, niello work, and fine enamelling.
The spine is decorated in gilded chasing and niello. The other cover is in niello, which shows some leafy floral sprays within an oval cartouche surrounded by interlaced leafy scrolls.
The interior retains the original silver straps to allow the book that was being enclosed to be held by the covers.
The covers are in fine condition and are without loss, damage or repairs.
References: Hassiotis, I.K., et al., Aspects of Armenian Art: The Kalfayan Collection, Museum of Byzantine Culture, 2010. Soltes, O. (ed.), National Treasures of Georgia, Philip Wilson Publishers, 1999.