5255

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Serpentine & Silver Ewer inset with Coral, Turquoise & Garnets

Sino-Himalayan or Mongolia
circa 1860

length: 18cm, height: 15.5cm, weight: 556g

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Provenance

private collection, UK

This teapot or ewer comprises a turned tea bowl made from translucent, mottled green serpentine, with silver mounts.  The silver mounts are inlaid with dozens of turquoise, coral and garnet cabochons.

The handle is in the form of a beautifully chases silver dragon and has coral for eyes. The spout emerges from the mouth of a silver makara. This too has coral eyes. The spout is also topped with a small turquoise cabochon.

The lid is domed and topped by a lotus-bud finial. It is decorated with pearled wire edging, silver filigree and alternating coral and turquoise. The shoulder of the bowl is similarly decorated.

The foot is domes and high and decorated with pearled silver wire and a band of turquoise between two bands of garnets.

The use of twisted silver filigree wire and cabochon stones in box settings has parallels with the work of Newar craftsmen for Tibetan clients from the 17th century onwards (for an example, see Pal, 1990, p. 297).

Most probably the ewer is either from Mongolia or has been made in China for the Tibetan or other Himalayan markets. The patina and wear to the silver suggests a dating to around the mid-19th century.

The condition is excellent – there are no losses and no repairs. Probably a chain once connected the handle to the lid but this seems an unnecessary distraction. Overall, it is a very well crafted item and fine, costly stones have been used.

References

Pal, P., Art of Tibet, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.

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