5807

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Large Tibetan Silver Ga’u Box set with Turquoise & Coral

Eastern Tibet, probably Labrang area
early 20th century

length: 16.5cm, width: 12.7cm, thickness: 3.8cm, weight: 292g

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Provenance

UK art market

This large Tibetan  ga’u or amulet box is made of hammered silver sheet, including the backing plate.  It would have been worn by either a man or a women.

It is of oval form and is decorated with applied silver filigree, pearled silver wire, and applied chased plaques. A central flower form panel is gilded. A large coral cabochon rises from this, in a box setting. The face of the box is further decorated with three turquoise cabochons.

The ga’u was worn suspended from the top gadrooned tube. A stylised dorje ornament decorates the other end which will be at the bottom of the ga’u if worn correctly. This is embellished with a further turquoise cabochon.

The sides of the box, like the backing plate, are of hammered silver, and the sides have been decorated with an elongated key-fret pattern.

A similar, though slightly less elaborate example is in the Newark Museum and illustrated in Reynolds (1999, p. 76) and in Proser (2010, p. 122).

Such boxes were worn suspended from the neck as talismanic, protective devices. They held scripture and other auspicious items.

The example here is in fine condition and without repairs or losses.

References

Proser, A., (ed.), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.

Reynolds, V. et al, From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum, Prestel, 1999.

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