Enquiry about object: 4265
Cast Brass Male Fertility Ring
Muria People, Bastar, Madhya Pradesh, India 18th-19th century
overall approximate widest diameter: 6cm, weight: 46g
private London collection
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This unusual, dramatic ritual ring with scenes of farming including oxen used in ploughing and so on, is of cast brass, and is of a type worn by Muria tribal men in Bastar in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. According to Untrecht (1997, p. 263), such rings were used as a male fertility talisman at the time of ploughing and crop sowing. Among the Muria, the earth (Tallur-Muttai, or ‘mother earth’) was considered as a female which the male farmer plowed and then injected his seed.
Untrecht (p. 263) and van Cutsem (2000, p. 146-147) illustrate several related examples.
The example here includes a pair of oxen and a farmer ploughing and other farming-related elements.
The ring has a fine patina, obvious age, and excellent miniature sculptural quality. It is complete; there are no losses or repairs.
van Cutsem, A., A World of Rings: Africa, Asia, America, Skira, 2000.
Untracht, O., Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.