Enquiry about object: 6194

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Large, Sri Lankan Turned Ivory Fan Handle

Sri Lanka
18th century

length: 46cm, weight: 553g



UK art market

This fine, large and heavy fan handle has been beautifully turned and carved from solid ivory. It dates to the Kandy period. It would have been a part of a vatapatha or semi-circular fan of the kind that are carried by a senior Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka for processions and ceremonies. Such a fan or fan handle would have been commissioned for presentation to a senior monk as an act of merit.

The head of the holder is carved on both sides with typically Kandyan tightly scrolling floral and leaf motifs.

The main grip of the handle is of intricate baluster form.

The handle has been turned with multiple ribs. It has also been etched with geometric designs that have been filled with different coloured lacs or pigments.

See Coomaraswamy (1956, plate XXXVII) for related examples. Singapore’s Indian Heritage Centre has a similar example.

The ivory has a wonderful creamy, yellowed patina, and obvious age. There are minor nicks here and there, and an old hairline crack which is closed, shallow and stable to part of one side, but otherwise the handle is in fine condition. It is large, decorative and again, has the most splendid patina.


Coomaraswamy, A.K., Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956 reprint of the 1908 edition.

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