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Turquoise-inlaid, Gilded Silver Filigree Ga’u Box

19th century

height: 9.7cm width: 9.8cm, thickness: 2.2cm, weight: 68g



UK art market

This is a fine Tibetan amulet box or ga’u box made principally of silver alloy sheet. The front retains all its original turquoise cabochon stones of which there are dozens. It is further decorated with gilded silver filigree and brass inlay.

The central motif on the front plate comprises a stylised 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 is beautifully decorated with bands of pearled silver wire.

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. There are the usual, minor dents to the sides and back plate, and wear to where the ornament was suspended from the top tube, all of which is desirable and authenticating.


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

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