Gold Theva Work Silver Crucifix Overlaid with Gold, & Chain
Partabargh, Rajasthan, India
height of crucifix: 6cm, width: 4.7cm, weight of cross & chain: 23g
This beautiful crucifix is made from theva work, a type of work only undertaken by Raj Soni goldsmiths from Partabargh in Rajasthan. The technique involves incising and then cutting out small scenes and images from thin 24 carat gold. This is then fused onto glass behind which green and sometimes red foil is attached. The whole is then held in place by silver wire and mounted in gilded silver or gold mounts.
This crucifix is of silver with the front being over-laid with gold sheet engraved with scrolling flowers and foliage. Each of the three arms shows a female figure dressed in Indian attire amid flowers and foliage holding aloft a vessel. The centre of the crucifix is decorated with a larger roundel in which a female figure – perhaps Mary – holds a vessel in one hand and a bird in the other.
Crucifixes done in
theva work are rare. Another example without a chain was sold as Lot 247 in Sotheby’s New York, ‘Indian and Southeast Asian Art’, June 17, 1993.
This crucifix comes with what is most probably its original silver-gilt chain.
Overall, this is a beautifully made and evocative example of cross-cultural work, combining Western Christian form with Indian craftsmanship and decoration.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 1288
(The reverse of the crucifix.)