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This small box produced most probably in Kandy in Sri Lanka is remarkable for the intricate decoration that covers all sides and also for the unusually high relief of that decoration. In fact, among boxes of this type, the intricacy and relief is the highest we have seen – a great deal of work has gone into a relatively small area. It is likely that the crevices between the relief were darkened with the application of a black lac to better show off the designs.
The lid is slightly domed and hinged and the sides are scalloped.
It is very finely chased on all sides with typically Kandyan scrolling foliage and flowers – the nari-lata-vela pattern. Amid all the dense, scrolling foliage is a forest nymph (nari lata) on the lid, parrots (girava), the double-headed bird motif (bherunda pakshaya), sacred swans (hamsa), Sinhalese lions, and other nymphs and forest animals.
The base is finely engraved with trellis work meant to emulate basketry but within a thin and very fine floral border.
This box is a remarkable feat of Kandyan silversmithing.
The box is in fine condition. There are no repairs, dents or splits.
Coomaraswamy, A.K., Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956 reprint of the 1908 edition.