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Tibetan Turquoise Ga’u Box

Lhasa, Tibet
19th century

width across: 10.5cm, length: 11cm, thickness: 2.4cm, weight: 140g



UK art market

This fine Tibetan turquoise-laden ga’u or amulet box is made of hammered silver sheet, including the backing plate. The front retains all its original turquoise cabochon stones of which there are many – each of a rich hue and with splendid patina. It is further decorated with dense silver filigree scrollwork on the front. The sides also have filigree decoration but in a looser format.

The central motif on the front plate comprises a stylised overflowing vase of longevity.

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. The dorje element also incorporates a tube which could have allowed chains and other decoration to be suspended from the bottom of the ga’u.

Each side also has a silver tube to which further silver chains could be attached.

The overall form of the ga’u itself is a double-square. Such examples were worn by women particularly in and around Lhasa.

Overall, the ga’u has a dark patina and obvious age and wear. The turquoise has a beautiful colour and contrasts pleasingly with the silver surrounds. It is in fine condition.


Clarke, J., Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.

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