This fine belt clasp of raised, curved form, is decorated with semi-precious stones using jarao work . It was either intended to be worn by a person or was intended to decorate a religious statue most probably in a temple or monastery.
The clasp is made of gilded (gold-plated) copper and inlaid with a mixture of turquoise, rubies or pink sapphires, and topaz. The stones are all in cabochon form. It is further decorated with applied twisted wire filigree spirals and edged with a thin border of pearled wire.
The reverse has three lugs to allow a cloth belt to be threaded through. One of these has a later brooch pin attached – presumably a previous owner wore this as a brooch. (This could be easily removed.)
It dates to the 18th or 19th centuries and most probably was made by a Newari craftsmen either for a Nepalese or a Tibetan client.
According to Clarke (2004, p. 113) jarao work is a distinctive form of stone inlay decoration used by Newari craftsmen in the Kathmandu Valley. Its use was most prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries although it appears on items from Nepal as early as the 12 century. It involves the use of a network of cloisons formed from this strips of wire or metal sheet to hold the stones, typically in combination with spiral filigree or pearled wire elements.
The clasp is in fine condition with excellent patina and obvious age.
Clarke, J., Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.
Ghose, M. (ed.), Vanishing Beauty: Asian Jewelry and Ritual Objects from the Barbara and David Kipper Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, 2016.