3008

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Thai Official’s Ivory Seal

Thailand
19th century

height: 9cm, diameter of base: 5.5cm

Available - Enquire

Provenance

UK art market; most probably the item has been in the UK since colonial times.

This fine seal has been carved from a single piece of ivory and is in the form of a stupa or chedi. It is an example of a known series of seals used in the nineteenth century by senior Thai officials and senior monks. According to Tingley (2003, p. 90), senior monks used such seals to mark sacred texts (sutta) and other items so that they could be identified as belonging to their monastery. They also used them to endorse temple receipts. Officials used such seals in similar ways.

The slightly convex base retains traces of red seal ink and is carved elaborately and finely with an insignia that incorporates a deity that holds a sword amid Thai-style flaming foliage kranok motifs.

Several examples from the Doris Duke Collection are in the V&A Museum. Click here to see an example.

The example here is in good condition. There are no breaks, cracks or repairs; there is one or two old and barely discernible nicks to the extremities. The top finial is also possibly slightly shortened. The ivory has a beautiful, golden patina.

References

Songsri Prapatthing (ed.), Thai Minor Arts, The Fine Arts Department, Thailand, 1993.

Tingley, N., Doris Duke: The Southeast Asian Art Collection, The Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture, 2003.

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