6057

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Indian Woman’s Kibla Compass Shaped as a Silver Niello Mango Pendant

South India
first half of the 19th century

length: 2.2cm, weight: 3.87g

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Provenance

UK art market

This small mango pendant actually contains a tiny compass. Such mango-compasses are relatively uncommon.

As such, it seems likely that it was made for a Muslim woman in South India as a small, private kibla compass.

The mango is a common motif in Indian jewellery (see Aitken, 2004, p, 130 for an example). It is associated with fertility and femininity with its suggestive curvaceousness.

Usually the mango form serves as a bead or as a small scent or vermilion container, but in the case, it conceals a compass.

The mango is hinged on one side (with a fine latch on the other) and the cover opens to reveal a tiny needle, beneath glass, in the shape of a flying bird.

The exterior is decorated with niello work, with flowers and leaves.

The top is fitted with an elaborate silver  loop to allow suspension.

The item is in fine condition. The cover fits perfectly and tightly.

References

Aitken, M.E., When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, Asia Society & Philip Wilson Publishers, 2004.

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