5147

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Nepalese Gem-Inset Gilded Copper Breast Plate (Suta or Konchi)

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
18th-19th century

length: 18cm, height (including pendant): 18cm, weight: 148g

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Provenance

private collection, UK>

This breast plate of crescent form, is decorated with applied gilded wire scroll-work, turquoise cabochons and foil-backed coloured glass. Glass and turquoise-mounted gilded roundels are arrayed as if flowers in bloom, against more applied gilded scrolling. A central deity, probably Garuda, whose body is marked out in glass and Peking glass sits cross-legged and holding various attributes.

The edge of the plate is entirely bordered by a single row of turquoise cabochons – unusually all are original and none are missing.

A tear-shaped pendant mounted with green and red glass hangs from the bottom of the breast plate.

The reverse of the plate comprises plain, gilded, hammered copper.

The breastplate might have been worn as a necklace in its own right, or could have been attached from a crown and worn as a breast plate perhaps for use by a member of the Rana aristocracy. The Rana family was large and many members had the right to wear crowns and related head ornaments.

See Gabriel (1999, p. 24) for a related breastplate attributed to the late 18th century, and Clarke (2004, p. 59) for a breastplate worn suspended from a crown, attributed to the 18th or 19th centuries.

The plate has a fine patina; it clearly has significant age. There are no losses or repairs. It is stable and wearable.

References

Clarke, J., Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.

Gabriel, H., Jewelry of Nepal, Thames & Hudson, 1999.

Ghose, M. (ed.), Vanishing Beauty: Asian Jewelry and Ritual Objects from the Barbara and David Kipper Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, 2016.

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