Enquiry about object: 5442

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Silver Ga’u Box Overlaid with Thick Gold

China or Mongolia
19th century

height: 13.3cm, width: 13.5cm, thickness: 4cm, weight: 459g



UK art market

This splendid ga’u or protective amulet box was made in either China or Mongolia but most probably was intended for the Tibetan market.

It is of square form. The front component is of hammered silver alloy sheet, the face of which is pierced, overlaid in thick gold which tests at around 14 carat, and decorated with a large, endless knot emblem, surrounded by an endless knot border and with four bat motifs.

A similar example but without the gold is illustrated in Ghose (2016, p. 52).

Two pairs of lugs are on either side to allow the box to be suspended from the wearer’s neck.

The back is enclosed with a plain, hammered copper sheet.

The interior holds an old sheet of plain, handmade paper; a rectangular strip of paper with seven line of lantsa script in black ink on both sides; a square segment of red Chinese silk textile; and a worn, hand-drawn tsakli painting of a wrathful deity, possibly Chamunda.

The box is in excellent condition and is without repairs and amendments.


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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