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This splendid small, scallop-shaped box is of silver that has been finely engraved all over, including the base, with typically 17th-18th century Ottoman scrollwork. The hinged lid has been inset with a pale green jade or nephrite plaque that has been overlaid with gilded and engraved silver lattice-work that has been further decorated by emerald and ruby cabochons in high box settings above petal-shaped rosettes.
It is possible that the decorated jade plaque is earlier than the box itself. Indeed, other examples of jade, porcelain and crystal so decorated from Ottoman Turkey tend to be give a dating of circa 1600. Combinations of rubies and emeralds was typical in this type of work, especially in the 17th century (Tsars, 2009, p. 92). This sort of work was a speciality of Istanbul gold and silversmiths. The Ottoman court commissioned this sort of embellishment for items for itself and also for presentation pieces.
The interior is gilded (gold plated) – the box might have been used as a snuff or patch box.
See lot 166 at Sotheby’s London ‘Arts of the Islamic World’, 20 April 2016 for a larger, more elaborate 17th-18th century Ottoman jade box set with stones in a similar manner.
It is in excellent condition. There is some rubbing to the centre of the underside which is consistent with age and use. The lid and base fit together perfectly.
Roxburgh, D. (ed.), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years 600-1600, RAA, 2005.
The Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in the Moscow Kremlin, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2009.