8986

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    Indian Brass-inlaid Paduka Shoes

    India
    19th century

    individual length: 24.5cm, individual width: 7.8cm, combined weight: 408g

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    Provenance

    UK art market

    This pair of padukas or toe-knob sandals (also known as kharawan or karom)  is of carved wood that has been inlaid with brass wire. The toe holders are of solid, turned brass. They are raised on platforms that have been elegantly carved around the sides.

    Each is also decorated with pairs of fish motifs; indeed much of the brass wire inlay is intended to evoke scales.

    Toe-knob sandals usually are associated in Indian culture with the sadhu, the Hindu holy man or ascetic who wanders from village to village. Such sandals represent footwear in its most basic form, stripped down and thus in accordance with the strictures of the life of an ascetic. This pair however is more elaborate and perhaps was included as part of a bride’s trousseau. Sometimes, padukas become objects of veneration themselves being associated with holy men and even the deities themselves.

    A related example is illustrated in Jain-Neubauer (2000, p. 87).

    This pair is in excellent condition.

    References

    Jain-Neubauer, J., Feet & Footwear in Indian Culture, Bata Shoe Museum/Mapin, 2000.

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