– scroll down to see further images –
This pair of much-used women’s dress or cloak fasteners (koma) is of openwork silver attached to a thick sheet silver backing plate, inset with green cabochon stones. The fasteners are of foliate form. They would have attached to the front of the dress (kira) – one on either shoulder or upper chest – and then been linked by a chain than ran around the back of the neck. The reverse of each is fitted with hooks to fasten onto the textiles they are meany to secure.
Most extant examples of such fasteners are relatively new, perhaps dating to the last forty years (indeed this type of accoutrement for a Bhutanese woman’s dress only appeared in the early twentieth century) but this pair has very obvious wear and age from decades of actual use. The contours of the silver have been softened and the pair have a superb patina, front and back.
Related examples are illustrated in Geoffrey-Schneiter (2012, p. 82), Leurquin (2003, p, 277).
The wear seen on this pair is important. As mentioned, most examples available today are relatively new. Clearly, this is not the case with this pair.
Geoffrey-Schneiter, B., Bijoux des Toits du Monde de la Chine au Caucase, Foundation Baur, Musee des Artes D’Extreme-Orient/5 Continents, 2012.
Giehmann, M., Himalayan Treasures: Adornments from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh & Arunachal Pradesh: The Manfred Giehmann Collection, 2019.
Leurquin, A., A World of Necklaces: Africa, Asia, Oceania, America from the Ghysels Collection, Skira, 2003.
Myers, D., and S. Bean (eds), From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan, Serindia, 1994.