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Sri Lankan Turned Ivory Fan Handle

Sri Lanka
18th century

length: 40.5cm, weight: 335g



UK art market

This 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 leafy and floral 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 rings 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 creamy, yellowed patina and obvious age. There are minor nicks here and there, but otherwise the  handle is in fine condition.


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

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