SIMON RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
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A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
It is with great pleasure that I present this nineteenth catalogue of Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art, which I hope you will enjoy. I would like to thank the many scholars and experts who have so kindly and generously helped us prepare this catalogue: Jerry Losty, Robert Skelton, Will Kwiatkowski, Jennifer Scarce, George Michell, Katrina van Grouw, Henry Noltie, Rukmani Kumari Rathore and Haydn Williams. I would like to thank the following for their expertise in the installation and display of the works of art: Colin Bowles, Louise Macann, Helen Loveday, Tim Blake and Keith Mitchell. Leng Tan has written the entries for this catalogue. I would like to thank Leng for his elegant writing, which conveys the pleasures and enjoyment of each work of art, bringing them to life. William Edwards has written the sculpture and ceramic It is with great pleasure that I present this sixteenth entries with great passion for the subject and meticulous catalogue of research. I would also like to thank William for looking Simon after the catalogue at all stages of its preparation and for Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art. overseeing the production on press. I would like to thank the many scholars and exFinally, I would like to thank Richard Valencia and perts who have so kindly generously helped us prepare this catalogue: Alan Tabor for their stunning photography; Richardand Harris Robert Skelton, Jerry Losty, Andrew Topsfield, Will for his exceptional repro and colour preparation; and Kwiatkowski, Katrina van Grouw, Catherine Glynn, Peter Keenan for his vibrant and innovative design that Milo Cleveland Beach, Steve Kossak, Terence so exquisitely presents these wonderful works of art. McInerney, Asok Kumar Das, Anna Dallapiccola, George Michell, Michael Spink, Simon Ray Joan Cummins and Adeela Qureshi. I would like to thank the following for their expertise in the installation and display of the works of art: Helen Loveday, Louise Gooch, Colin Bowles and Tim Blake.
Bronzes 24 Timurid Tiles
1 M O N U M E N TA L S E AT E D B U D D H A Gandhara (Kushan period), first half of 3rd century Height: 129.2 cm Width: 75 cm Depth: 25 cm
This monumental and magnificent carved grey schist sculpture of the seated Buddha is an example of the fully mature Gandhara style.1 The Buddha is shown seated cross-legged in the dhyanasana (meditation) position, with his feet uncovered and his soles facing upward.2 His throne is the pericarp of the lotus flower.3 The pericarp is the edible tissue that develops around and encloses the seeds of a fruit. Here the ovoid cushion is incised with circles to indicate lotus seed pods. The Buddha’s hands were once held in the dharmachakra mudra, or teaching gesture, as indicated by the marks on the chest where the raised hands were originally attached. Dharmachakra in Sankrit means the wheel of Dharma; thus, it denotes the setting in motion of the Wheel of Teaching of the Dharma (doctrine of universal truth, or the cosmic law and order that governs the universe as revealed by the Buddha’s teachings). In this mudra (hand gesture), the thumb and index finger of both hands would have touched at their tips to form a circle. According to Stanislaw J. Czuma who exhibited and published the sculpture in his seminal exhibition and catalogue at the Cleveland
Museum of Art, Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, 1985, pp. 197-198, cat. no. 108, the muscular modelling of the body under the beautiful undulating folds of the monastic robe that reveal the weight and structure of the body and limbs beneath, and the mode of wearing the sanghati (monastic robe in Sanskrit, also known as kasaya in Pali) over one shoulder, indicate a late second century date.4 Czuma compares the physiognomy of our seated Buddha to that of another seated Buddha who forms the central figure in a trinity, exhibited as cat. no. 109 in the same exhibition catalogue. The trinity is dated AD 182 and is one of very few dated Gandhara sculptures upon which the chronology of the entire school rests.5
C. Hanna, Jr. Fund, 1961. Sotheby’s, New York, Indian, Himalayan Wand Southeast Asian Works of Art, Including Property from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Wednesday, 15th March 2017, lot 247. Exhibited: “Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India”, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 13th November 1985-5th January 1986; Asia Society Galleries, New York, 13th February-6th April 1986; Seattle Art Museum, 8th May-13th July 1986. On view at the Cleveland Museum of Art, before 23rd November 1997-13th June 2005. Published: “Oriental Art Recently Acquired by American Museums”, in Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America, vol. XVI, 1962, illus. p. 106, fig. 10. The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 49, June 1962, illus. p. 128. The Human Adventure II, Classical Civilization,
However, for Czuma, the face with semi-closed eyes under gently arched eyebrows, often seen in stucco sculpture, indicates a somewhat later date than late second century, as does the hair which is arranged on both the head and the top knot in a semi-circular short wave pattern.6 Earlier depictions of the Buddha show his hair in longer waves. In addition, Czuma notes that the dharmachakra mudra is another late development not found in early Gandhara sculpture.7 Czuma therefore assigns a date for the present sculpture to the first half of the third century.
Vol. II, Grade 5, The Educational Research Council of Greater Cleveland, 1965–1966, illus. p. 48. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1966, illus. p. 228. Stanislaw J. Czuma with the assistance of Rekha Morris, Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, Cleveland, 1985, illus. p. 197, fig. 108. References: 1. Stanislaw Czuma with the assistance of Rekha Morris, Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, 1985, pp. 197-198, cat. no. 108. 2. Ibid., p. 197. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid.
Provenance: William H. Wolff, 2nd December 1961. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard
Photographs Courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2017
99 THE TITLE OF EACH PIECE India, North India 1000-1001 Height: 00 cm Width: 00 cm Depth: 00 cm
Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! ththththththth thththht hthth hth hth hhth hth hth hth References: 1. the reference notes go here and herer and also here and maybe a bit over there s well.
2 ELEPHANT IN PROCESSION Gandhara (Kushan period), 2nd/3rd century Height: 39 cm Width: 44 cm Depth: 14 cm
A carved grey schist sculpture of a male Asian elephant attached to a right-angled architectural bracket and decorated with bells and a large saddle to its back. The elephant is captured in midmovement, walking forwards with one front foot straight and slightly raised with the other bent at the knee. Large toes are indicated by the semi-circular carvings to the bottom of the feet, and loose skin has been suggested by ripples to the raised front leg. His rear legs are carved as one and, along with the back of the animal, merge into the upright part of the right-angled bracket behind. The torso of this magnificent beast has three large straps hanging down to each side which attach underneath to secure the saddle blanket above. Also underneath are two large bells, used to warn people of the elephantâ€™s movement when in busy areas. The thickly woven saddle is decorated with wavy geometric patterns and a rounded tassel to each corner.
an elephant has always attracted attention, and here in sculptural form, it takes on an almost physical character and combined with its tactility, proves irresistible to touch. Whilst it is difficult to know the exact expression, the elephant appears jovial, with eyes facing forwards and mouth open with a smiling demeanour. His long trunk curls slightly at the end, with carved lines to the underside denoting where the skin folds and wrinkles. This elephant, attached to a bracket, suggests it was a decorative architectural element, possibly from a stupa. For similar elephant sculptures, see W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandharan Sculpture in the British Museum, Volume II, 1996, p. 244 and Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, p. 246. Provenance:
As an Asian elephant, his ears are much smaller and said to suggest the shape of India. Here, both are tucked into the body, the carved swirling interiors adding further realism and depth. His head is smooth and shiny due to years of being touched and rubbed by human hands. The beauty and immense personality of
Sothebyâ€™s London, Primitive Art and Indian Sculpture, 8th December 1969, lot 16.
3 H E A D O F M A I T R E YA Gandhara (Kushan period), 2nd/3rd century Height: 15.5 cm Width: 14.2 cm Depth: 12.3 cm
A carved dark grey schist head of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, who together with the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, would have flanked the Buddha in a triptych. This beautiful head can be identified as Maitreya by the arrangement of the hair in an elaborate loop.
while intensifying the calm steady gaze of Maitreya, whose meditative yet alert expression radiates all the serenity, compassion and wisdom of a great bodhisattva, qualities beautifully conveyed by the exceptional carving. The surface of the stone has been finely polished and the natural forms within the stone follow the lines of the face to stunning effect. A diadem of three strings of pearls linked by larger beads encircles the long, wavy hair of Maitreya. At the chignon, a horizontal piece of hair forms the single loop, which is
The face of Maitreya is youthful, with strongly defined handsome features and a sinuous, curling moustache. The proportions of the head are superb. The gently smiling mouth with full lower lip, the strong chin and the deep-set, penetrating eyes all contribute to the aristocratic profile, enabling the sculpture to be enjoyed equally from all angles. The scalloping of the eye sockets above the heavy lids forcefully projects the forehead
tied by a strand of hair in the middle, a Western influence emanating from Greek hairstyles. Large, circular earrings adorn the elongated ear lobes denoting nobility, and the complete figure would have been decorated with numerous items of jewellery. Similar depictions of Maitreya can be seen in W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandharan Sculpture in the British Museum, Volume II, 1996, pp. 38-39 and Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, pp. 13-44. The Gandharan region (present day northwestern Pakistan and north-eastern Afghanistan) was a prolific centre for the production of Buddhist sculpture, economically sustained by trade along the Silk Route, which also contributed significantly to the spread of the Buddhist faith. The art from this region shows influence from Greco-Roman, Iranian and Central Asian traditions whilst preserving a unique style. Provenance: Spink and Son, London, 12th October 2000 Private New York Collection 2000-2019
4 C R O W N E D B O D H I S AT T VA Gandhara (Kushan period), 4th/5th century
the heightened naturalism of Gandharan sculpture through the elongated face, long and fluid neck and the soft and wavy hair which all combine to suggest a dating to the fourth or fifth century.
Height: 13.5 cm Width: 9 cm Depth: 11 cm
The Gandhara region covered a large part of modern day northwestern Pakistan and Afghanistan. The sculpture of Gandhara is a cosmopolitan hybrid combining Hellenistic or Greco-Roman, Indian, Iranian and central Asian styles with mainly Buddhist iconography. By the end of the first century these aesthetic traditions had developed cohesively into a distinctive and recognisable style. Sculptures in stone, usually schist, are considered to predate those modelled more easily from malleable stucco and terracotta, although all these materials were used from an early date, so dates suggested for the sculptures of this period must be regarded as tentative.
A pale off-white stucco head of a bodhisattva, finely modelled and looking down and slightly to the left. He has an oval face, with almondshaped half opened eyes, suggesting he is in deep contemplation. He has a long, straight nose above full and rounded lips, creating an almost half-smile to his mouth. Elaborate curls of hair fall over his temple and the sides of his face, hiding his ears. A bow of hair can be seen to the crown of his head with a further band below tying his hair back. This fine head of a bodhisattva demonstrates the concern of the later Gandharan artists with the naturalistic modelling of features in realistic detail. In comparison, the stone sculptors of Mathura, the other major school of the Kushan dynasty, worked with soft mottled red sandstone, to produce a more abstracted but also more sensual and earthy style. This head exhibits
For similar examples, see W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, Volume II, 1996, pp. 317-320. Provenance: Spink and Son, London, 16th February 2000 Mr and Mrs Wilson, London
5 CROWNED DIETY India (probably Rajasthan), 10th/11th century
has a deeply carved pattern with a central kirtimukha or face of glory with beaded jewellery falling from its mouth and looping either side into the mouths of yalis who stand confronted, twisting their heads round to grab the beads. A third strand of beads falls to a central rosette below. The face of glory is framed by a circular flaming border and corner spandrels with floral carvings. To each side of the crown is an identical pattern of a triangular bordered floral spray above further beaded jewellery.
Height: 23.7 cm Width: 13.1 cm Depth: 23 cm
A finely carved dark yellow sandstone head of Vishnu or Surya with an elaborately patterned mukuta (crown) on his head. The smooth and polished rounded face has a long, thin nose, leading up to a pair of prominent curved eyebrows above. His eyes are wide open in a powerful and concentrated gaze, and their narrow almond shape and thick lids further intensify his expression. His mouth remains closed with a V-shaped top lip. Above, his hair falls in scrolls neatly to either side of his face, almost wavelike in its appearance. Long thin ears stick close to his face on either side.
According to Pratapaditya Pal, the playfulness of the face of glory suggests a distinct kinship with Rajasthani sculptures1 and the tall elegant crown identifies the figure as one of the Hindu deities, either Surya or Vishnu.2 Provenance: The Bruno Cooper Collection References:
The unadorned face contrasts with the finely carved and intricate detail of the hair and elaborate mukuta above. The ornate squarish crown
1. Pratapaditya Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, 2003, p. 149. 2. Ibid., p.150.
6 S E AT E D B R O N Z E B U D D H A Thailand (Sukhothai period), 14th century Height: 28.5 cm Width: 19 cm Depth: 9.5 cm
A bronze sculpture of Buddha Shakyamuni in a seated cross-legged position, facing forward with his back straight and eyes half-closed. The Buddha has been cast showing his right hand in bhumisparshamudra (the earth-touching gesture) where he reaches towards the ground with the palm of his hand downwards, representing the moment of his awakening underneath the Bodhi tree. His left hand rests in his lap (dhyanamudra). Originally there would have been a lotus throne below his crossed legs. His gentle face is in a meditative expression with full lips, dimpled chin, and heavy-lidded eyes beneath arched brows, flanked by elongated earlobes, his hair rising
over the usnisha and topped by a flaming finial. To his torso he wears a sanghati or monastic robe with a thick sash placed from the left shoulder down to his waist. His other shoulder is bare. There is a beautiful rich green patina to the surface, and unusually, traces of gilding remain. The figureâ€™s wide shoulders and even wider lap create a pyramidal composition that is considered universally pleasing throughout art and imparts an overall sense of solidity and strength to the sculpture. Provenance: The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago, acquired before 1983 Exhibited: On loan to the Art Institute of Chicago since 1983. Published: Pratapaditya Pal, A Collecting Odyssey: Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, 1997, pp. 121 and 305, cat. no. 149.
7 B U D D H A S H A K YA M U N I Northern Thailand or Laos (Ayutthaya period), late 17th century Height: 31.9 cm Width: 20.5 cm Depth: 11 cm
A cast bronze sculpture of Buddha Shakyamuni, seated cross-legged in the lotus position, facing forwards and wearing monastic robes in the open style, and seated upon a plain pedestal base. The Buddha sits relaxed, with his left hand resting in his lap (dhyanamudra) and his right arm resting on his knee with his hand pointing downwards as if touching the earth (bhumisparshamudra). He has a contemplative and serene expression, his eyes lowered in meditation. Shallow incised lines separate the lids from the brow, following the same contours and almost meeting just above his slender nose, a characteristic of sculpture from this period. He has small lips, which form a subdued smile, their outline incised, with further grooves below denoting his chin. He has thin ears to either side, elongated from wearing heavy jewellery in his youth. His hair is in rows of tight snail shell curls rising to a small usnisha topped by a pointed detachable finial.
The gesture of bhumisparshamudra symbolises the Buddhaâ€™s renunciation of worldly desire, and since this is the central moral rule of Buddhism, it is by far the most prolific mudra in Southeast Asian Buddhist art. It depicts the Buddha sitting in the wilderness before he attained enlightenment, touching the ground to raise the Goddess of the Earth to defeat the armies of Mara, the god of desire and death. In doing this, the Buddha had overcome the last of many dangers and temptations Mara had put before him.
Provenance: The Collection of Dr. Henry David Ginsburg Dr. Henry David Ginsburg was a leading expert on Thai painting and manuscripts and joined the British Library in 1973 as their Curator of Thai and Cambodian Collections. A world renowned scholar in the field of Thai manuscript painting, he published two titles: Thai Manuscript Painting in 1989 and Thai Art and Culture: Historic Manuscripts from Western Collections in 2000 as well as numerous papers on the subject. His tenure at the
In all their diversity, Buddha images naturally occupy the most prominent position in the art of the Ayutthaya period.1 The face conforms to the most popular regional Ayutthaya style, taking spiritual and aesthetic influences from Sukhothai and using the naturalism learnt from Lopburi sculpture. The concern with authority and power is evident in Ayutthayan sculpture, as it was seen as a symbol of greatness.2
British Library ended with his retirement in 2003. Henry Ginsburg came from a family fascinated by the decorative arts and antiques. His grandfather, John Ginsburg, was a founding partner of Ginsburg & Levy Antiques in New York; his father Benjamin, an avid scholar continued this legacy with his business Benjamin Ginsburg Antiquary on Madison Avenue; and his mother, Cora Ginsburg was one of the worldâ€™s leading dealers in European and American costume and textiles. References: 1. Jean Boisselier, The Heritage of Thai Sculpture, 1975, p. 171. 2. Steve Van Beek and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni, The Arts of Thailand, 1991, p. 153.
8 NORANAIR FIGURES Thailand (Bangkok style, Ratanakosin period), second half of the 19th century Height: 49 cm Width: 15.5 cm Depth: 18.5 cm
A pair of lacquered and gilded bronze figures of Noranair, each facing forwards, standing in a position of worship and on a square wooden pedestal base. These intricately cast gilded bronze figures are depicted in formal static poses, leaning slightly forward with hands clasped together. Each rounded face commands a calm and serene expression, with eyes halfclosed and the faint traces of a smile. They wear tall tapering crowns each rising to a thin point and decorated with stepped sections of repeated jagged forms. Each torso is finely decorated with jewelled necklaces, armlets, belly button jewels and bazubands. Winged epaulets grace each shoulder. Both figures have circular breastplates, but otherwise their torsos remain bare of clothing. Intricate dhoti-style skirts envelop their waists and are decorated with large boteh-shaped hanging panels. Curvaceous tapered legs give way to elaborate winged sandals to their feet. A long S-shaped tail ending in a flame finial rises from their rears up to each neck. The figures are beautifully gilded in a rich gold hue, with traces of red lacquer emerging in places. Noranair or Absorn Si as she can also be known as, and her male counterpart Norasingh, are halfhuman, half-lion figures which
inhabit the Himaphan forest, a mythical area located in the Himalayan mountains below the heavens of the gods. The Norasingh may be a Thai adaptation of Narasimha, the lion incarnation of Vishnu. Similar figures may be found at the Wat Pra temple in Bangkok. Please see col. pl. IXb. in Natalie V. Robinson, Sino-Thai Ceramics in the National Museum, Bangkok, Thailand, and in Private Collections,
1982; and Muang Boran Journal, vol. 15, no. 4, Oct.-Dec. 1989, p. 86. Provenance: The Curios Furniture & Miscellaneous Utensils & Hardware Merchants & Employees Association Hong Kong & Kowloon, 370 Queenâ€™s Road Central, 3rd Floor, Hong Kong. Purchased on 15th May 1968, invoice number: C21846. Spink and Son, London, purchased on 21st November 1996, invoice number: SEA 11343.
9 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE FRAGMENT Western Central Asia (Timurid), 14th century Height: 28.2 cm Width: 22.5 cm Depth: 7 cm
A carved and glazed terracotta calligraphic tile fragment, finely and deeply carved in two levels of relief, the beautifully flowing white-glazed calligraphy floating above a rich turquoise blue arabesque of split-leaf palmettes, leaves and curling buds that sprout from interlacing vines and tendrils. The floral arabesque that supports the superb calligraphy floats against the deeper recesses of the turquoise ground, giving a wonderful play of levels, enhanced
by the contrast between the crisp white calligraphy and the unctuous turquoise. Though the calligraphy is too fragmentary to read, it is clearly of the highest quality, most probably commissioned for a royal monument, and written in an elegant cursive style related to thuluth. Carved and glazed terracotta is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest; one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum dated AH 722/1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed
terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century. The flowing calligraphy is also a discernibly fourteenth century style. A splendid early example of carved and glazed terracotta architectural decoration is the tomb of Buyan Quli Khan (d. 1358) in Fathabad near Bukhara, which was once totally revetted in tiles of this technique inside and out. There are several panels and a pilaster from the tomb at the Victoria and Albert Museum including a similar panel carved with inscriptions on a ground of spirals and scrolling foliage (2031A-1899). Seen from afar, monuments clad in this elegant technique have the chiselled refinement and delicacy of lace.
10 MUQARNAS TILE Western Central Asia (Timurid), 14th century
especially in the vaulted areas of archways or in cupolas. This device, which became widespread in the twelfth century almost throughout the whole Muslim world, is one of the most characteristic features of Islamic architecture.
Height: 31 cm Width: 23.5 cm Depth: 12 cm
A carved and glazed terracotta muqarnas tile, decorated with a finely and deeply carved quadrilaterally symmetrical composition of vines and split-leaf palmettes that interlace to form a lattice of overlapping ogivals, with pairs of delicate confronted buds at the interstices.
This fine tile would have formed part of a muqarnas structure within and below the spandrels of an arch, in a mausoleum or mosque. This form can also be seen spread like the leaves of a palm tree as the capital of a round pillar.
The tile has a slightly curved triangular projection at the top of its rectangular body, which gives it a three-dimensional quality, complemented by the deep carving in relief to the surface. The tile is covered with a luminous turquoise glaze, thickly applied in an unctuous layer, covering the undulating surface with rich gleaming colour.
Carved and glazed terracotta is a highly attractive technique that predates the Timurid conquest, one of the earliest examples being a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London dated AH 722/1322 AD. Unlike other techniques in the wide range employed by the Timurid tile-makers such as cut-tile mosaic and cuerda seca, carved and glazed terracotta seems only to have been used in the fourteenth century.
Muqarnas is an Arabic term referring to corbels covered in stalactites,
11 S A Z L E AV E S A N D R O S E T T E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1550 Height: 32.2 cm Width: 33.2 cm
An underglaze-painted tile in blue and turquoise on a crisp white ground under a transparent glaze. The design is of overblown lotus flowers and rosettes with cloud bands and superimposed composite flowers to the centres, and serrated saz leaves decorated with delicate sprigs of white flowers, all on a taut spiralling vine. A panel of three tiles with this design is in the British Museum in London (OA 1878, 12-30.534, Henderson Bequest). These three tiles are illustrated in Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, 1995, p. 107, no. 96. The colour turquoise was first used in Iznik ceramics on vessels and tiles in the 1520s and reached perfection by the 1540s.
Many ceramics with the present colour combination may be dated to the second quarter of the sixteenth century, though the use of the blueand-white colour scheme and the combination of chinoiserie flowers and saz leaves continued throughout the sixteenth century. The tiles at the British Museum are dated to the second half of the sixteenth century, and Porter tells us that these tiles are associated with the mosque of Eyüp on the Golden Horn. Similar tiles can also be found on the exterior wall of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul as well as in the Arab Hall at Leighton House in London. For a comparison, see the exhibition catalogue OsmanischTurkisches Kunsthandwerk, Bayerischen Armeemuseum Ingolstadt, Neues Schloß, 1st September - 4th November 1979, pl. 37. Provenance: The Collection of Krishnâ Riboud, Paris
12 A D D O R S E D S A Z L E AV E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1570 Height: 30.8 cm Width: 29.2 cm
A polychrome underglaze-painted tile in colours of cobalt blue, emerald green, sealing wax red and black against a white slip ground with a symmetrical pattern of addorsed saz leaves surrounded by cusped cartouches of split-leaf palmettes. Two large finely drawn saz leaves emerge from a small cobalt blue cusped cartouche. The leaves have delicate serrated edges and are painted in a vibrant emerald hue, with splashes of cobalt
and raised red detail. A small cusped cobalt motif is placed between them, above which is a further central blue medallion filled with white split-leaf palmettes with green detailing. The two large leaves have thin bending stalks framed by a small pair of slightly twisting leaves to the bottom as they emerge from the blue crescent cartouche. Parts of further large saz leaves can be seen underneath the cartouche, which would originally have continued onto the tile below. A large repeated cusped cobalt cartouche echoing the design at the top of the tile flanks the large saz leaves to either side. Here, the medallions are further highlighted with spots of sealing wax red.
to materials, temperature and length of firing would often lead to inconsistencies in the finished ceramics. The contrast here between the vibrant hues and the rough bare ground of the tile presents the viewer with a fascinating visual spectacle. Written in pen on the reverse of the tile: See K. Ot Dorn [Katarina Otto-Dorn], Turkische Keramik, Ankara, 1957, pl. 68, Aga Sofia Library, 16th c., also reused tiles in Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet) Provenance: The KrishnĂ˘ Riboud Collection, Paris The Howard Hodgkin Collection, London
This unusually large tile is missing most of the sealing wax red pigment which would originally have been applied. This loss is almost certainly due to an inconsistency when firing or an issue with the iron oxide used for the pigment. The variables in Iznik production due
13 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580
Ottoman Turkish; a suggested reading is:
Height: 21 cm Width: 24.8 cm
“…under its roof, this sphere(?)…” The references to the roof and sphere, and the stone, ruby and rose garden, mentioned in the inscription of the accompanying calligraphic tile in catalogue no. 14, are entirely suitable for an architectural inscription.
An underglaze-painted rectangular calligraphic tile with two stylised flowers appearing in the background, inscribed in elegant white thuluth script reserved against a vibrant cobalt blue ground, with emerald green and sealing wax red details.
A complete panel of similar calligraphic tiles including the border can be seen in situ in the Atik Valide Mosque in Istanbul and a further example is published in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, pp. 192-193, cat. no. 97. For a calligraphic panel with similar stylised floral motifs, see Ahmet Ertuğ and Walter Denny, Gardens of Paradise: 16th Century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, 1998, p. 94.
The dark cobalt blue has been thickly applied and the artist’s brushstrokes can be clearly seen as the crisp white calligraphy punctuates the ground. Part of a stylised rosette flower with white petals surrounding smaller emerald inner petals and a central bud with raised sealing wax red detail can be seen to the bottom edge. To the top of the tile, a further stylised spray emerges from a horizontal section of script, the flower painted with five white petals containing a central red bud and further smaller red splashes. A single emerald green leaf appears from above the flowers whilst below, the white stem and a further leaf rises from the text.
Provenance: Mrs Zeïneb Lévy-Despas Collection Zeïneb et Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière Acknowledgement:
The tile originally would have formed part of a calligraphic frieze. The inscription is a fragment of a verse in
We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription.
14 CALLIGRAPHIC TILE Turkey (Iznik), circa 1580
The references to stone, ruby and possibly a rose garden, like the roof and sphere mentioned in the inscription of the accompanying calligraphic tile in catalogue no. 13, are entirely suitable for an architectural inscription.
Height: 21 cm Width: 24.8 cm
An underglaze-painted rectangular calligraphic tile, inscribed in elegant white thuluth script reserved against a vibrant cobalt blue ground, with emerald green and sealing wax red details.
A complete panel of similar calligraphic tiles including the border can be seen in situ in the Atik Valide Mosque in Istanbul and a further example is published in Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, pp. 192-193, cat. no. 97. For a calligraphic panel with similar stylised floral motifs, see Ahmet Ertuğ and Walter Denny, Gardens of Paradise: 16th Century Turkish Ceramic Tile Decoration, 1998, p. 94.
The dark cobalt blue has been thickly applied and the artist’s brushstrokes can be clearly seen as the crisp white calligraphy punctuates the ground. Three small white cintamani balls decorate the field as well as a stylised white tulip to the bottom, with a single emerald green leaf and detailed with raised red spots to the three white petals. It bends to the right as if blown by an unseen breeze. The tile originally would have formed part of a calligraphic frieze. The inscription is a fragment of a verse in Ottoman Turkish; a suggested reading may be:
Provenance: Mrs Zeïneb Lévy-Despas Collection Zeïneb et Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Will Kwiatkowski
“Its stone is ruby and its rose garden (?)…”
for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription.
15 B O R D E R A N D C O M P O S I T E S P R AY S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575
meanders of cusped white lappets with raised red spots against a cobalt ground, all decorating either side of a plain white ridge.
Height: 19.8 cm Width: 24 cm
A flat border depicting a cusped split-leaf palmette and further cusped cartouche, both in white with green and red details are framed against a cobalt ground punctuated by tiny green tendrils. A further moulded edge with the same lappet design frames the fragment to the far left.
A moulded border tile fragment in shades of sealing wax red, cobalt blue, emerald green and turquoise against a white ground with a design of stylised floral sprays and repeated lappet meanders. To the right of the tile, painted on a white ground is part of a larger floral scene, with a composite spray with cusped emerald leaves surrounding a cobalt bud with raised red detailing. Part of a large serrated cobalt leaf cartouche with inner rosettes can be seen to the right. Framing this floral design is a moulded section depicting a symmetrical pattern of turquoise borders framing inner repeated
Moulded tiles are rarely available on the market. They were originally made to form decorative corners for mosques or palaces, and for areas where a clear physical border was needed between patterns. As such, their three-dimensionality adds an additional architectural quality. For part of a tile pediment with an identical moulded border, see Hülya Bilgi, Dance of Fire: Iznik Tiles and Ceramics in the Sadberk Hanim Museum and Ömer M. Koç Collections, 2009, p. 184. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner. Published: Heinrich Jacoby, Eine Sammlung Orientalischer Teppiche, Berlin, 1923, abb. 5, p. 5.
16 F L O R A L S P R AY S A N D L O Z E N G E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 19 cm Width: 18.5 cm
A moulded and underglaze-painted tile fragment in shades of cobalt blue, emerald green, sealing wax red and turquoise against a white ground featuring floral sprays and geometric borders. The main field, set against a rich cobalt blue ground has a design of stylised saz leaves, cusped palmettes and composite flowers. The two serrated saz leaves are painted with a red central stripe against a white slip ground and surrounded by smaller
emerald green leaves which emerge from the white stems. Part of a white cusped palmette can be seen to the bottom right, containing a raised red rosette spray and small cartouche. A thin stem joins it to a further cusped palmette to the top left. The bottom left features part of a composite lotus spray. The field is framed to the left by a moulded border, separated by a thick turquoise line and decorated with repeated raised red lozenges framing central cobalt lines. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner.
17 M E A N D E R I N G C LO U D B A N D S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 23 cm Width: 25.5 cm
A large polychrome tile fragment in shades of cobalt blue, raised sealing wax red, turquoise and emerald green against a white slip with a design of stylised cloud bands within moulded borders. The main field depicts a cusped meandering arabesque cloud band in brilliant white slip scrolling across a rich cobalt blue ground. Small vibrant green tendrils punctuate parts of the cloud band further
decorating the design. To the upper left, part of a larger cusped flat border can be seen containing the inner pattern, with a bold sealing wax red line finishing in a cusped floral flourish. A chamfered moulded edge frames the main field to the top of the tile, where a symmetrical pattern of thick turquoise stripes frames white inner cusped lappets with red spots against a cobalt ground. The white peak of the moulding features small emerald triangles framing raised red lozenges. To the bottom right corner of the fragment is a further moulded section, repeating the same pattern but in a pinched right-angled version, the sharp point of the moulding dissecting the cloud band design.
Moulded tiles are rarely available on the market. They were originally made to form decorative corners for mosques or palaces, and for areas where a clear physical border was needed between patterns. As such, their three-dimensionality adds an additional architectural quality. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner. Published: Heinrich Jacoby, Eine Sammlung Orientalischer Teppiche, Berlin, 1923, abb. 59, p. 72.
18 ROSETTE BORDER Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575
leaves and further flowers appear from the serrated edges. A cusped cartouche with a raised sealing wax red border contains a cobalt ground with white split-leaf palmettes and emerald details. A vertical turquoise border separates this design from the right side, where a cobalt ground frames a white composite lotus spray with further scrolling vines and leaves surrounding it. To the right edge is a chamfered turquoise border with white cusped lappets.
Height: 15 cm Width: 23.5 cm
An unusual polychrome underglazepainted border tile fragment in colours of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, turquoise and emerald green against a white slip ground, with a design of a composite rosette separated from a cusped palmette and saz leaf by a thin turquoise border.
To the left side of the tile, painted against a white ground, is part of a large cobalt saz leaf with inner stylised rosette sprays. Emerald
Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner.
19 C I N TA M A N I B O R D E R T I L E Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 12.8 cm Width: 13 cm
An underglaze-painted border tile fragment in shades of cobalt blue, emerald green, sealing wax red and turquoise against a crisp white ground. The design depicts a pattern containing cintamani balls, painted with central turquoise spots, surrounded by raised red and cobalt blue crescents. Two cusped stylised cloud bands painted in emerald green frame a large centrally placed pair of diagonal cobalt tiger stripes or Buddha lips. The designs are all placed against a white ground. Above and below the main field are thin vibrant turquoise borders.
century Ottoman Turkey, appearing on ceramics as well as on woodwork, carpets and textiles. The design originated in Buddhist iconography, and originally the circles represented auspicious flaming pearls. In the Ottoman context this significance was transformed through their association with tiger stripes and leopard spots, symbols connoting strength and courage. Cintamani border tiles are more commonly seen with the design against a cobalt blue ground rather than the white ground seen here. An example of this can be seen in Hülya Bilgi, Iznik: The Ömer Koç Collection, 2015, p.152 as well as in situ in the library of Sultan Ahmed I in the Topkapi Saray. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG),
The pattern of this tile fragment, with polychrome balls accompanied by tiger stripes, is a variant of the so called cintamani (Sanskrit for “auspicious jewel”) design which was very popular in mid-sixteenth
thence by descent until purchased by the current owner. Published: Heinrich Jacoby, Eine Sammlung Orientalischer Teppiche, Berlin, 1923, abb. 67, p. 86.
20 C I N TA M A N I Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 24 cm Width: 15 cm
An underglaze-painted tile fragment in shades of cobalt blue and turquoise against a crisp white ground. The rare design is of a repeated pattern of cintamani balls in groups of three. Small round vibrant turquoise spheres edged in thin delicate lines are enclosed by larger cobalt crescents creating the stylised cintamani. The designs are further enhanced by the crisp white ground they are placed upon. The pattern of this tile fragment, usually accompanied by tiger stripes or Buddha lips, is a variant of the so called cintamani (Sanskrit for “auspicious jewel”) design which was very popular in mid-sixteenth century Ottoman Turkey, appearing on ceramics as well as on woodwork, carpets and textiles. The design originated in Buddhist iconography,
and originally the circles represented auspicious flaming pearls. In the Ottoman context this significance was transformed through their association with tiger stripes and leopard spots, symbols connoting strength and courage. Cintamani border tiles were used to decorate the library of Sultan Ahmed I in the Topkapi Saray. A complete tile with the identical pattern was sold at Christie’s in October 2018, lot 217. For a similar but later tile, see Sotheby’s Islamic sale, April 2014, lot 165. Blue, white and turquoise tiles with cintamani balls and tiger stripes can be seen in situ in the Tomb of Ayyub al-Ansarî (Eyüp), as well as in Hülya Bilgi, Iznik: The Ömer Koç Collection, 2015, p. 155. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner. Published: Heinrich Jacoby, Eine Sammlung Orientalischer Teppiche, Berlin, 1923, abb. 66, p. 85.
21 S A Z L E AV E S A N D R O S E T T E S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1550 Height: 25.5 cm Width: 14.5 cm
An underglaze-painted tile fragment in cobalt blue and turquoise on a crisp white ground under a transparent glaze. The design features an overblown composite lotus rosette with cusped petals and small white flowers placed to the top right with further flowers and serrated saz leaves filling the remaining ground. A panel of three tiles with this design is in the British Museum in London (OA 1878, 12-30.534, Henderson Bequest). These three tiles are illustrated in Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, 1995, p. 107, no. 96. The colour turquoise was first used in Iznik ceramics on vessels and tiles in the 1520s and reached perfection by the 1540s.
century, though the use of the blue-and-white colour scheme and the combination of chinoiserie flowers and saz leaves continued throughout the sixteenth century. The tiles at the British Museum are dated to the second half of the sixteenth century, and Porter tells us that these tiles are associated with the mosque of Eyüp on the Golden Horn. Similar tiles can also be found on the exterior wall of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul as well as in the Arab Hall at Leighton House in London. For a comparison, see the exhibition catalogue Osmanisch-Turkisches Kunsthandwerk, Bayerischen Armeemuseum Ingolstadt, Neues Schloß, 1st September 4th November 1979, pl. 37. Provenance: Heinrich Jacoby (1889-1964), president of the
Many ceramics with the present colour combination may be dated to the second quarter of the sixteenth
Persische Teppich Aktien Gesellschaft (PETAG), thence by descent until purchased by the current owner.
22 C Y P R E S S T R E E S , H YA C I N T H S A N D R O S E S TA N K A R D Turkey (Iznik), circa 1590 Height: 21.5 cm Diameter: 11.7 cm
A large underglaze-painted polychrome cylindrical tankard in colours of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, emerald green and black against
a white ground, with a repeated design of large stylised sprays within lappet borders. This tankard with its straight, square handle has a continuous and repeated pattern around its body of three types of large stylised sprays. Slender vibrant emerald green cypress trees rising from black stems are framed to the left by S-shaped sprays of raised red roses with serrated green leaves which twist upwards behind each tree. To the right are individual sprays of hyacinth flowers, painted in cobalt blue and with green and blue leaves to their bases. The cobalt and copper oxides have blurred in places due to a high concentration of lead in the glaze leading to the colours running. Smaller individual flowers with sealing wax red petals fill the remaining gaps of the crisp white ground. Framing the central field to top and bottom are borders of repeated cusped white lappets decorated with splashes of red. The square handle is decorated with loose abstract splashes of cobalt on a white ground. The shape of this tankard takes its inspiration from the art of metalwork of the Balkans, and became widespread in Ottoman Turkey in the second half of the sixteenth century. These tankards may also have been used as flower vases. For a similar example, see Bernard Rackham, Islamic Pottery and Italian Maiolica, 1959, pl. 39, no. 100A.
23 T U L I P S A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S Syria (Damascus), late 16th century Height: 8 cm Diameter: 31 cm
A rare underglaze-painted polychrome dish in colours of cobalt blue, aubergine, black and emerald green against a white ground. The radiating central design has a series of six trefoil leaves in green surrounding a single bud, perhaps imitating a stylised cornflower. Wavy cobalt leaves fill the gaps, radiating outwards between which are single symmetrical sprays
of stylised green hyacinths, round cobalt blue flower-heads, possibly grape hyacinths, and alternating single tulip sprays in manganese and green all emanating from cobalt or black stems. To the reverse of the dish are large alternating sprays of cobalt tulips and green rosettes, framed to the edge by a continuous cobalt leaf border. A small foot rim is surrounded by an emerald green lined border. For similar dishes, see Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles: Mamluk and Ottoman
Architectural Ceramics from Syria, 2015, pp. 206 and 209, figs. 4.107 and 4.112. According to Millner, the vessels made alongside tile production had distinctive features, including three blemishes in the glaze produced by kiln props, something never seen in Iznik equivalents.1 The vessels also tend to have smaller foot rims. Both features appear on our dish thus confirming its date and origin. Reference: 1. Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles: Mamluk and Ottoman Architectural Ceramics from Syria, 2015, p. 210.
24 T U L I P A N D C A R N AT I O N Syria (Damascus), 17th century Height: 23 cm Width: 22.5 cm
An underglaze-painted polychrome tile in shades of cobalt blue, sage green, aubergine, black and turquoise, depicting a luxuriant group of stylised floral sprays, leaves and curling stems on a white ground.
A cusped cartouche embellished with buds and trefoils decorates the top left corner of the tile while another such cartouche can be glimpsed to the top right. On the bottom right is a spiralling composite rosette spray in cobalt and turquoise. The intertwined stalks and leaves that fill the lower left corner make a delicious tangle. Provenance: The Howard Hodgkin Collection
A single large cobalt tulip is at the centre of the design, the light cobalt ground filled with dark cobalt spots above a turquoise rosette below. The flower is embraced to either side by a long thin sage green leaf, whilst further cobalt stems and small serrated leaves surround it including a small carnation spray with an aubergine flower and green calyx. A dappled cobalt saz leaf with a turquoise centre emerges from each side of the tile, both joining at the top to create a crescent turquoise cartouche.
25 HORSE WITH A CEREMONIAL NECK PLUME Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 24.2 cm Width: 24.4 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique depicting the head and bust of a white horse in profile, entering the scene majestically from the right and moving with stately gait towards the left against a rich cobalt blue ground. The horse is richly caparisoned, suggesting that it is part of a princely hunting expedition through a rocky landscape dotted with shrubs. The horse has a wispy mane, a large eye open wide and alert for the hunt, ears pricked up in anticipation of having to break into a gallop for the chase, flaring nostrils and a slightly open mouth revealing a row of teeth. These details give the horse a sense of life: we are made palpably aware of the aristocratic animal listening, looking, breathing and snorting. The bridle is festooned with rich ornaments. The browband, headstall and noseband are all in piquant turquoise, connected by an ochre brown cheekpiece decorated with turquoise and yellow beads. The throatlatch is similarly ochre and strung with polychrome beads. The junction at which all these pieces connect at the horseâ€™s temple is marked by a vibrant turquoise flowerhead. From a turquoise collar around the neck hangs a billowing ceremonial plume. The reins are yellow. The horse is fitted with a saddle and saddlecloth fit for a prince and held in place by a turquoise strap around the chest of the horse with floral buckles. The green pommel of the saddle rises like the prow of a ship with a deep groove for the rider to grip in his
fingers. The seat is striated with lines to suggest texture. The saddlecloth is bright yellow and outlined with a band of turquoise. The leather strap from which the stirrups are suspended is a sharp apple green. We can see the glinting steel of the stirrup below, marked by incised grooves in the metal. Above the horse are the small legs of a deer or onager (wild ass) in a desperate scuttle to escape from the hunters. It seems to be making for the safety of the rocky outcrop to the top of the tile. In the lower left corner can be glimpsed the sleeve and cuff of a hunter.
horse tile. Thus, the British Museum tile may have also come from a large hunting panel; or alternatively, he may be an archer from a battle-scene, though this is less likely as princely pleasure pursuits were the preferred subject of these elegant tiles over the strife of war. The British Museum tile is published in Venetia Porter, Islamic Tiles, 1995, pp. 78-79, no. 73. According to Porter, the tile came from a panel of picture tiles probably from a palace, and she notes how the archerâ€™s pose and costume are comparable to contemporary Persian miniatures. Provenance: The Hagop Kevorkian Collection
A related tile with a similarly bold design of a horse and plume was sold at Spink and Son in 1997 and published in the catalogue, The Many Faces of Spink, November 1997, cat. no. 9. This also shows a white horse with a ceremonial plume entering from the right. The Spink horse has not entered the scene sufficiently to show the saddle but to the left corner of the tile is a quiver full of arrows and the elbow of a hunter pulling the string taut can be seen jutting into the picture. This suggests that like our tile, the Spink tile was from a panel depicting a princely hunting scene. What the prince might have looked like can be seen in a tile in the British Museum, London, where the prince wears a Safavid turban and a tunic fastened with floral buttons like the bridle fittings of our horse. His quiver is turquoise and outlined with a trim of ochre similar to the treatment of the saddlecloth on our tile. As he draws the string of his bow, his elbow projects in the manner of the elbow in the Spink
26 TIGER IN A GLADE Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 23.5 cm Width: 23.3 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique with a charming design of a tiger in a glade. The tiger is seated on its haunches with its hind legs folded and tail stretched out behind. It rears itself up on its left front paw while it lifts its right paw. Though the body of the tiger faces right it turns its head to the left, distracted by something that it has seen beyond the edge of the tile, such as vulnerable prey or a threatening hunter. With bared fangs, open mouth and protruding tongue, the tiger prepares to do battle. The tiger is a fabulous beast. The distinctive stripes of the tiger cover every inch of its pelt but, like cintamani balls floating against cloud bands or â€œtiger stripesâ€? in Turkish ceramics, the tiger stripes are interspersed with the spots of the leopard. This combination of tiger stripes and leopard spots are part of the costume worn by the legendary Iranian hero, Rustam, frequently seen in Safavid paintings illustrating the epic Shahnama. Circular discs are set like bosses on the tigerâ€™s knees and shoulders, adding to its heraldic splendour. The tiger is flanked by a tree with green veiny bark on its left and a trefoil flower rising on its stalk from a clump of serrated saz leaves on its right. On the right edge of the tile is
a bold arabesque with black borders and flanged split-leaf palmettes framing a turquoise core containing a yellow tendril. The polychrome colours of the tiger and vegetation are seen against a warm sunny yellow ground. A tile of almost identical design but with the body of the tiger facing left while its head turns to the right is in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The pose of the tiger, the spiky grass below and flanking foliage are identical, but the pelt of the animal has only tiger stripes with no leopard spots as in our example. It is likely that this tile would once have formed the companion to our tile in an elegant decorative spandrel or tile panel depicting animals in combat or hunting pursuits, installed in a palace or pleasure pavilion in Isfahan.
27 C O N C E N T R I C S TA R S Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 23 cm Width: 23 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique decorated in cobalt-blue, white and light blue, with a highly unusual geometric design of concentric eight-pointed stellar motifs. The everexpanding design radiates outwards, as the eye is simultaneously led inwards to the white eight-pointed star at the centre of the design. The white star seems set deep within by the illusion of depth and multiple stepped levels created by the pattern. The centripetal and centrifugal movements generate opposing forces that animate the geometric precision with a radiant kaleidoscopic energy.
squares seen from angles that alter the perspective. The blue and light blue star is in turn framed by another white star, like the central white star seemingly laid flat on the horizontal. As the design approaches the viewer in the perspectival illusion, the next set of cobalt and light blue rhomboids forming the largest outer star simultaneously form the sides of three-dimensional cubes with white tops. As the white tops of the cubes seem to be angled backwards on an incline, the whole design not only radiates out but also bends back in a curved trajectory. The design then expands into the corners, pushing at each corner of the tile with sections of partially
Surrounding the central white star are cobalt and light blue four-sided rhomboid forms that create a surrounding bi-coloured frame, also in the form of a star. From our vantage point, as if from above, the rhomboids seem set perpendicular to the horizontal white star as if they are
glimpsed bi-coloured rhomboids, the beginnings of further patterns, which combine with parts of the larger star to play with the viewerâ€™s sense of space and depth. It is astonishing that the design uses only three colours framed by straight lines on the flat surface of the tile, yet the eye is lead in dancing movements outwards and inwards, and light seems to bend as the design expands yet folds back while at the same time collapsing within. Such intriguing geometric designs are extremely rare in Safavid tiles. Two very unusual geometric tiles from the Collection of Theodor Sehmer (1885-1979) were sold at Christieâ€™s London in the auction, Islamic Art and Manuscripts including Property from the Theodor Sehmer and Heidi Vollmoeller Collections and including the Clive of India Treasure, 27th April 2004, p. 172, lots 207 and 208. Lot 207 is a hexagonal tile depicting a three-dimensional polychrome cube made of square struts framing a hollow centre. Lot 208 does not play with the illusion of depth at all but electrifies its flat surface with serrated chevrons in blue and green.
28 PRINCE RIDING BELOW HUMA Iran (Qajar, probably Tehran), circa 1880 Height: 33.8 cm Width: 24.2 cm
A rectangular stone-paste tile with moulded decoration, finely underglaze-painted in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, aubergine, black and white under a gleaming transparent glaze. The focal point of the tile is a central figure on horseback. He wears an aubergine tunic beneath a shortsleeved turquoise blue coat. He wears a large light turban and holds his left arm up high, tempting the large phoenix-like bird above with an expression of calm concentration. The fantastical creature is possibly Huma, a mythical bird from Iranian poetry and legend, who is always in flight, never once landing upon the earth. The bird is the embodiment of health and strength and only hovers above royalty, suggesting that our horseback rider must be a prince. Huma is painted in vibrant turquoise hues to the wings with aubergine
details and is depicted with a large white flowing feathered tail, the neck bent back, tempted by the small treat offered by the prince. A magnificent white stallion carries the royal rider, wearing a decorative saddle blanket and horse trappings, and makes his way from left to right across a thick floral carpeted ground. Further floral sprays float around the prince and Huma, painted in turquoise, aubergine and pale blue against the richer and darker cobalt ground. A small aubergine hill and scrolling clouds can also be seen on the horizon along with two stylised mosques. A white border of dark brown meandering arabesques accented with blue buds frames the scene to the top of the tile. A similar Qajar tile of a man on horseback beneath Huma can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of George White Thorne 1988 (accession no. 83.1.67).
29 FA L C O N E R O N H O R S E B A C K Iran (Qajar), circa 1880 Height: 34 cm Width: 26. cm
A stone-paste tile with moulded decoration, finely underglaze-painted in shades of cobalt blue, pink, turquoise, manganese aubergine and
white with black lined detail under a gleaming transparent glaze. The focal point of the tile is a large white horse, moving from right to left, its head held high, front right leg raised and wearing various
trappings, including a white and aubergine saddle and a turquoise and black blanket across its back. Sitting astride is a Persian falconer, looking down and to the right, resplendent in his flowing striped robes and turban and holding in his right hand a bird of prey, who looks behind as if alerted by something out of picture. The rich cobalt blue ground surrounding the horse and rider is filled with stylised floral rosette sprays painted in turquoise, white, pink and aubergine. Three mosques or palaces can also be seen to the top of the tile, framing the falconer to either side and below stylised mountain peaks. A thin white floral border frames the tile to the top with a pair of birds flanking a central rosette.
30 P E A C O C K S F R O M T H E M A R V E L S O F T H I N G S C R E AT E D Iran (Qajar, Tehran), circa 1880 Height: 26.5 cm Width: 26.5 cm
A stone-paste tile with moulded decoration, finely underglaze-painted in delicate shades of turquoise, pink, brown, black and cobalt blue against a crisp white ground under a gleaming transparent glaze. The delightful and unusual design depicts a group of peacocks with wide fanned tails strolling in a paradisiacal garden, the landscape dotted with flowering shrubs and rocky outcrops. Five peacocks march towards the right with a single peacock at the top of the tile going against the current and facing left, interrupting the rhythm of the phalanx and adding a piquant element to the design. The feathers of each bird are different and the shrubs are also variegated so that the decorative possibilities are maximised. This extraordinary tile may be compared to six square Qajar tiles in the Musée du Louvre in Paris which illustrate the work of the Iranian born scholar Abu Yahya Zakariya’ ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (12031283) entitled Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara’ib al-mawjudat or “Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing”. This thirteenth century Arabic text was very popular and remains the most celebrated cosmographic work of the Islamic world. The text is preserved in many copies, often illustrated, and translated into Persian and Turkish. C
Al-Qazwini was a Persian physician, astronomer, geographer, legal expert, judge and proto-science fiction writer, who after extensive travels though Mesopotamia and Syria, settled in Baghdad, where he entered the circle of the Governor of Baghdad, Ata-Malik Juwayni, to whom the Aja’ib al-makhluqat was dedicated.1 Al-Qazwini was also well-known for his geographical dictionary, Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar C
al-‘ibad (Monument of Places and History of God’s Bondsmen), and his Arabic science fiction fable, Awaj bin Anfaq, about a man who travelled to earth from a distant planet.2 The fantastic images on our tile and on the six closely related tiles at the Louvre are drawn from Al-Qazwini’s fertile imagination and inventive descriptions of the marvellous and the miraculous. The Louvre tiles were exhibited and published in Marthe Bernus Taylor and Cécile Jail (eds.), L’étrange et le Merveilleux en terres d’Islam, 2001, pp. 46-47, cat. no. 28. One of the Louvre tiles (MAO 1193) has a design with a dog, hedgehog, scorpion and tortoise. In our 2011 Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art catalogue, pp. 52-53, we published a tile with this design but even finer detailing, with a heightened colour range. As described by Annabelle Collinet in the Louvre exhibition catalogue, the six Louvre tiles depict animals and monstrous creatures including a pack of baboons with prominent red buttocks (MAO 1195); a pair of confronted rabbits flanking a tortoise with slithering snakes above (MAO 1196); a flock of birds including a pigeon and a pelican swallowing a fish (MAO 1191); she-devils or ogresses with women’s breasts and goats’ feet wearing short flared skirts (MAO 1194); and their equally fearsome husbands, three divs, dark, evil demons with tails, spotted skins, horns and moustaches, wearing short skirts and armed with clubs (MAO 1192).3 The depictions are full of wit and humour, and use multiple perspectives and viewpoints skilfully combined to animate the surface of the tiles. Collinet observes at the time of writing that no other group of tiles similar to the six tiles at the Louvre are known, so the discovery of the
present tile is an exciting addition to the small number of existing tiles illustrating the Aja’ib al-makhluqat. We know of another tile of this design which has come on the market depicting peacocks strutting though a garden. However, as with all the known tiles from this group, the peacocks are depicted against a rich cobalt blue ground, making the singular white ground of the present tile a unique variation of the group. Clearly the same mould has been used as the moulded design matches precisely but the feathers of the blue ground peacocks are ovoid like flower petals or fish-scales whereas the feathers on the white ground peacocks are rectangular or lobed with interior floral decorations. The shrubs in the background are also different, demonstrating a freedom in the underglaze painting that modulates the fixed design of the mould. C
We published in our Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art 2018 catalogue two other recently discovered designs: on pp. 186-187, cat. no. 40 a charming picture of strutting cockerels and a chicken pecking the ground while doves swoop dramatically in the sky; and on pp. 188-189, cat. no. 41 a bold depiction of four ducks watering at a stream with mountains in the far distance. These configurations are unique, and we have never seen the designs published or in a museum.
their postures and their heads, demonstrating that each tile was individually crafted. According to Collinet, the style of the figures on the tiles is very similar to the illustrations in a lithographic edition of the Aja’ib al-makhluqat that appeared in the city of Tehran in 1866.5 Following the first appearance of lithographic publications in Iran in 1843, the technique used for printing impressions of famous literary texts developed considerably. It became possible to print manuscripts without losing their images thanks to the lithographic process, which allowed the simultaneous reproduction of text and miniatures, thus preserving the page layout of illustrated manuscripts.6 The master tile-makers of this group must have had access to this lithographic edition, which provided the inspiration for tiles remarkably different from the courtly and historical narratives, hunts and equestrian scenes seen on most Qajar tiles from the second half of the nineteenth century. C
References: 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakariya_ al-Qazwini 2. Ibid. 3. Annabelle Collinet in Marthe Bernus Taylor and Cécile Jail (eds.), L’étrange et le Merveilleux en terres d’Islam, 2001, pp. 46-47, cat. no. 28. The Louvre exhibition devotes a section to works of art and manuscripts relating to Al-Qazwini and the literature of the marvellous. The tiles are also published
Sophie Makariou has also kindly informed us of another addition to this group, a donation to the Louvre of a tile depicting five camels at rest (MOA 2176), bringing the number of designs, including those that we have published, to ten. An added point of interest is a tile in a private London collection with a design of camels similar to the Louvre but with variant placements of the camels,
in the literature listed below. 4. Personal communication with Sophie Makariou. The camel tile was acquired by the donors from the Etude Tajan auction at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Art d’Orient, tableaux orientalistes, 14th-15th May 2001, p. 99, lot 281. 5. Collinet, 2001, p. 46. 6. Ibid. Literature: Sophie Makariou (ed.), Nouvelles acquisitions, Arts de l’Islam: 1988-2001, 2002, pp. 109-111, cat. no. 66. Le Petit Journal des grandes expositions, 23rd April to 23rd July 2001, no. 331.
31 E I G H T S E AT E D M E N Iran (Qajar, probably Tehran), 1890-1900 Height: 32.5 cm Width: 53.5 cm
A large moulded rectangular pottery tile, underglaze-painted in shades of cobalt blue, pink, manganese, turquoise, ochre, yellow and black against a white slip ground and depicting a group of kneeling men in conversation. The eight seated men, possibly courtiers placed before the unseen Shah in front of them, fill most of the cobalt ground. They are all dressed in vibrant coloured close-fitting tunics with decorative patterns and thick swathed girdles around their waists. All of them wear neatly coiled turbans of various colours on their heads, strands of dark hair emerging in places from below. Large fruits are scattered above the men, with two placed on a dark pink bowl almost floating against the cobalt ground. All eight are seated informally and facing the same way, yet
most have turned their heads towards each other suggesting they are deep in conversation. They could well be onlookers, with the tile originally part of a much larger scene depicting perhaps a concert or event. The theme here is interesting because it has a “naturalistic” treatment which is characteristic of late Qajar tilework from the late 1880s onwards.1 The fruit are probably pomegranates and pears. Pomegranates have held longstanding significance
in Persian culture, symbolising fertility, strength, and invincibility. They were also used in Zoroastrian rituals and domestic practices, including religious rites and marriage ceremonies. As can be seen here, robes, coats and other garments were mostly decorated with floral patterns during this time and were produced in a wide assortment of colour schemes. In the nineteenth century, there was a revival of the silk industry in Iran, and the popularity of silk-brocaded coats grew. Fabrics used for the kordi (a short, hip-length overcoat with short sleeves) were characterised by floral designs in pastel colours, namely pink and blue, with the edges of the robes trimmed with gold and silver.2 Acknowledgement: We are grateful to Jennifer Scarce for her help in researching this tile. References: 1. Personel communication with Jennifer Scarce. 2. Layla Diba, “Clothing X. In the Safavid and Qajar periods,” pp. 789–793 in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition.
32 E N A M E L L E D O C TA G O N A L T R AY Northern India (Mughal), early 18th century Height: 9.8 cm Width: 25.7 cm
A magnificent silver-gilt and champlevé enamelled octagonal tray standing on eight baluster legs with splayed feet, richly enamelled overall with foliate motifs in dark emerald green, piquant apple green, mango yellow, white and an unusual purple. This distinctive aubergine hue is rarely seen on enamelled metalwork and together with the radiant apple green, inflect the harmonious colour palette with deeply opulent as well as brightly lit tonalities. At the centre of the octagonal floor of the tray is a kaleidoscopic lotus composed of overlapping petals, as mesmerising as a yantra surrounded by a halo of luminescent green light. Framing this ever-opening lotus flower is the first of three foliate borders with quatrefoil yellow flowers on a continuous scrolling vine against the distinctive aubergine ground. From this circular border radiate rows of iris flowers with white petals on yellow stems, gently increasing in size as they approach the octagonal second purple border that frames the flat base of the tray. From the base rises an everted rim decorated with irises on the convex surface and finished with an outer purple border on the octagonal edge. The decoration continues with a frieze of irises on the eight vertical sides of the support for the tray, while variations of the iris motif appear on the swell of each baluster leg and on the concave underneath of the rim. The enamel pattern and palette of colours seen on this rare, octagonalform stand are identical to those
seen on an early eighteenth-century hookah base formerly in the Krishnâ Riboud Collection in Paris, and now at the Musée Guimet. This is illustrated by Mark Zebrowski in Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, p. 93, pl. 8, and by Amina Okada in L’Inde des Princes: La donation et Jean et Krishnâ Riboud, 2000, pp. 116-117. Both the hookah and the tray are decorated with the same design of repeated white flowers with yellow stems on an emerald green ground within similar purple borders comprising a scrolling vine with yellow flowers. It is thus quite possible, indeed extremely likely given the distinctive colour combinations and identical motifs, that the two are related and the present octagonal tray was made to accompany the hookah base as part of a suite of luxurious metalwork objects. Both would have been placed beside the smoker on a rug and the tray would have been used to present delicacies such as pan, sweetmeats or wine. Though no sets remain intact, Mark Zebrowski believes that a “smoking set” would have included four main items: the chillum or fire-cup containing burning charcoal and tobacco; the hookah base containing water; the ring on which the hookah rests, if the hookah is round; and the tray on which the whole ensemble sits.1 Despite our initial surmise based on Zebrowski’s theory above, it may be less likely that the hookah would have been placed directly on the tray despite the matching colours and patterns. The round form of the hookah base would have required a ring for support which would have interfered with the harmony of patterns, unless a matching ring with the same colours and patterns once existed. This is hard to prove as only
one hookah and its matching ring have survived, and this is insufficient evidence of its placement on a tray. Another factor that interferes with the theory is that in miniature paintings of the period, hookahs are most frequently seen placed at floor level on a cloth doily or on a flat tray and placement on a high raised tray such as the present tray on feet would be an unnecessary increase in height especially if the smoker sat on the floor. The present tray would however be just the right height to reach for drinks and delectable snacks. This accords with Zebrowski’s second suggested possibility that many of the trays were made not to accompany hookahs but used on their own to serve food and drink.2 According to Zebrowski and Okada, most Mughal enamelled objects were worked in the tradition of champlevé enamel, where the oxide paste is applied while hot to the excavated metal surface which has been prepared by intaglio engraving.3 The object is then subjected to intense heat in a furnace, but as each colour fuses at a different temperature, repeated firings are required to produce the entire colour range, an exacting task that demands a great craftsman.4 While the decoration of the tray and the Guimet hookah match exactly, the enamelling also finds comparison with two other works of art with a similar colour scheme of white and yellow against a dark green ground with accents in apple green. The first is a slightly earlier Mughal chilanum dagger dated to the mid seventeenth century now in the al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait, published in Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements, 2017, pp. 98-99, cat. no. 29. Kaoukji attributes
this chilanum to the Deccan and this is a possible attribution for our tray. Kaoukji also illustrates a katar (push- or thrust-dagger) from the al-Sabah Collection on pp. 68-69, cat. no. 17. While this does not have the apple green highlights, she considers this related in colour and style to the chilanum and assigns it also to the Deccan. Neither of these weapons has the distinctive purple enamel seen in our tray which, together with the apple green, links it directly to the Guimet hookah. The second object is a well-known Mughal enamelled gold jar and cover, dating to circa 1700, now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is illustrated by Zebrowski on p. 52, pl. 29. The covered jar is made of gold rather than silver-gilt and has mainly dark green and white forming a floral trellis, with mango yellow on the neck and pink on the cover of the jar. Though Zebrowski does not attribute this jar to any specific Mughal workshop, he notes that the colours and patterns remind us of the cuerda seca tiles of the shrine of Shaykh Bakhtiyar Kaki at Mehrauli,
south of Delhi, which was refurbished by Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. The similarities observed by Zebrowski confirm the Mughal connection, but George Michell goes a step further in The Majesty of Mughal Decoration: The Art and Architecture of Islamic India, 2007, pp. 100 and 279, cat. no. 93, where he assigns it to Jaipur, a city famous for its enamelwork but chiefly in polychrome enamels on a white ground.
The entrepreneur and philanthropist Herbert Irving (1917-2016), one of the founders of the largest distributor of food products in the world, Sysco Corporation, and his beloved wife of seventy-five years Florence (1920-2018) were married on 14th December 1941, a week after Pearl Harbor. From humble roots in Brooklyn, they rose to become the pre-eminent donors of Asian art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The South and Southeast Asian and Chinese Decorative Arts galleries bear their name, as well as the entire Florence and Herbert
While the two northern Indian cities of Delhi and Jaipur are distinct possibilities for the manufacture of this tray and are suggestions that reinforce Zebrowskiâ€™s attribution to Northern India, we find that the luxuriant style and unique colour combinations of both the tray and the Guimet hookah may point, as with the al-Sabah chilanum, to a Deccani origin, perhaps emanating from the city of Hyderabad.
Irving Asian Wing. Beginning with the purchase of a Chinese jade head rest from the doyenne of Asian art, Alice Boney, during a visit to Tokyo in 1987 when they fell in love with Asian art over lunch with Boney, the Irvings assembled one of the greatest private collections of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian works of art in the world. Dealers and experts who became close friends guided their connoisseurship; their own modest beginnings underpinned a desire to share their works of art with as many people as possible. As well as their immense
contributions to the MET, they became the
Terence McInerney Fine Arts Ltd., New York,
largest benefactors of New York-Presbyterian
1st April 1998
Hospital and the Columbia University Medical
The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection,
Center, signifying their deep and abiding
belief in helping others.
33 B I D R I T R AY W I T H I R I S E S India (Deccan, Bidar), early 18th century Height: 6.5 cm Diameter: 33.3 cm
An elegant tray (sini or thali) in the bidri technique of cut and polished silver inlaid into the contrasting matt black zinc alloy, consisting of a circular base standing on eight splayed feet, surrounded by a raised, curved and everted rim of twentyfour cusped flower petals. At the centre of the tray is a flower-head with long overlapping petals and central veins. This is surrounded by multiple concentric borders and margins of ever-increasing circumference decorated with a combination of large and small floral and geometric motifs ranging from petals, lappets, dots and pellets, to rings punctuated by circles spaced by further pairs of circles, placed close to suggest a continuous chain without actually interlocking. The many radiating layers shimmer with kinetic energy, creating a visual feast for the eye. Surrounding the central floral medallion centre is the principal decorative motive of the tray, a frieze of twelve large iris flowers, with sinuously curving petals and twisting,
overlapping leaves rising from a mound. The petals are enlivened by inner veins that curl like fronds to terminate in stamens while the leaves have parallel veins that enhance their fluidity of movement. The rich matt black of the bidri alloy surrounds the flowers as a visual foil, against which the silver flowers glisten. Use of the iris motif creates a direct link with Deccani painting of the period, namely in the typical use of irises decorating the borders of miniature paintings and in the flower beds of the formal gardens depicted in the miniatures themselves. Between two of the iris flowers may be glimpsed a tiny bronze chaplet. This is neither an error nor arbitrary decoration, but a little peg put through during the casting process. Metal chaplets are put into the core of the mould to support the structure and when metal is poured into the mould around the chaplets, they soften and become part of the casting process. Thus, we have a charming visual residue of the casting technique. Framing the outer edge of the frieze of iris flowers and marking the full extent of the flat base of the tray are borders of motifs drawn from the concentric rings of the central medallion. These include bands of
little circles and a smaller version of the rings punctuated and spaced by pairs of circles. Rising dramatically from the base of the tray is the sculptural rim. While twelve large irises dramatise the base of the tray, twenty-four smaller iris flowers grace the raised petals, twice as many in number but at half the size. The petals bend suavely to evert as they flare out to create the sense of an opening flower. The petals gently widen as they grow up and out and finish with cusped edges to emulate the frilly edges of soft flower petals. Bands of dots outline each petal while circles encircling inner rings of dots sit on the adjoining shoulders. The base of the tray sits on a hatched collar from which is suspended an apron of pendant flowers within inverted trefoil palmettes. Each of the eight feet on which the whole tray sits is a miniature marvel of complex casting. Though shaped like a claw, each foot ends in a splayed eight-petalled flower. The softly rounded thigh of each leg is decorated with silver irises, while the shin is encased by a large trefoil palmette flanked by a smaller palmette on each side, also decorated with irises. A chevron collar separates the ankle of each leg from the spread floral foot.
This tray is published in Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, pp. 255 and 259, pl. 435. According to Zebrowski, trays (sini) were part of “smoking sets”, on top of which would rest the chillum (fire-cup) with the charcoal and tobacco, the hookah base containing the water, and in the case of round hookahs, the respective ring on which the vessel sits. Trays were also used on their own to serve food or drink.1 Zebrowski writes that this magnificent tray has a familiar radiating design of irises “but the spirit of a new age is apparent. The flowers are glamorous, and very stylised, and the raised rim, rather than jutting straight out, is flattened down around the edge. Both features announce the more voluptuous and more precious air typical of the eighteenth century.” 2 Provenance: Spink and Son, London, 1970s Bashir Mohamed, 2017 Published: Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, pp. 255 and 259, pl. 435. References: 1. Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, 1997, p. 247. 2. Ibid.
34 JEWEL ENCRUSTED DAGGER India (Mughal), 18th century Length of dagger: 39.2 cm Length of hilt: 12.8 cm
A carved jade pistol-grip dagger (khanjar), the pale green jade decorated with large table-cut diamonds and cabochon rubies set in gold florets to form a dazzling design of interlaced and stylised floral sprays. From the quillons rise delicate gold tendrils set with alternating rubies and diamonds in leaf-shaped florets to form the stems of the bold large flower-heads that give the hilt its distinctive character. The trailing vines on the grip form themselves
into oval cartouche shapes on the front and back accented by the large and spectacular tear-drop diamond. The pommel is similarly decorated with bold flowers and another large tear-drop diamond on a stem of bold rubies in rectangular florets to the top. The slightly curved and recurved tapered steel blade is decorated with intricate floral arabesques in gold koftgari work near the hilt.
viceroy.1 After Aurangzeb made the khanjar popular, it became extremely fashionable in the Mughal court in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It also appears in miniature paintings; before the Aurangzeb period it was not depicted in Mughal miniatures of the Shah Jahan period. Provenance: Spink and Son, London Published:
The pistol-grip dagger first appears in Mughal weapons of the Aurangzeb period. Its origins can be traced to the Deccan where the form must have been admired by Aurangzeb when he was there as
Spink, Passion & Tranquillity: Indian & Islamic Works of Art, 1998, pp. 54-55, cat. no. 31. Reference: 1. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900. 1985, p. 178.
35 J A D E H O R S E H E A D H I LT India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 13.6 cm Width: 9.6 cm Depth: 2.6 cm
A finely carved mottled grey jade hilt in the form of a horseâ€™s head, with flaring nostrils, pointed ears, slightly open mouth revealing teeth and rounded cheeks, the mane with eleven wavy tresses of hair swept as if by the wind to the left. Three locks of hair cascade over the forehead to the front and the sides. The eyes are set with cabochon rubies with gold collets and the bridle inlaid with gold. The grip is carved to the front with grooves for the fingers, fitting snugly in the hand. The guard and quillons, carved from a separate piece of jade, are decorated with leaf and floral designs.
bringing the horse to life before our very eyes. The sprung tension to the mouth is outlined by the taut skin on either side, while the muscles of the jaw and sinewy upper neck are brilliantly conveyed by the indented area under the throat. The piercing eyes, which stare at the viewer with an air of haughty disdain, are the result of the carved rubies set into the shaped gold collets in the kundan technique. A close study by Stuart Cary Welch of the many figures in the Padshahnama
reveals that the small number of daggers with animal hilts were reserved for the use of princes such as Dara Shikoh and Shah Shuja.1 While the number of daggers with animal hilts increased during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, these continued to function as indicators of the highest rank and position at court.2 The delicacy and refinement of the present jade hilt, with its luxuriant gold and ruby inlays suggest that it was made for a young prince. References: 1. Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900. 1986, pp. 257-258. 2. Other horse head daggers from the Mughal period are illustrated in Howard Ricketts and Philippe Missillier, Splendeur des Armes Orientales, 1988, pp. 95-101. See in particular nos. 154 and 162 for horse head daggers with similar gold
The expressive features and fine carving, together with the refined proportions of the dagger hilt, admirably convey the power and vitality of the aristocratic animal. The careful modelling of the face reveals the underlying structure of bone and muscle beneath the skin,
bridles. Elegant horse head daggers wearing gold bridles in the al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait National Museum, are illustrated in Manuel Keene with Salam Kaoukji, Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, 2001, pp. 101-102, cat. nos. 8.18, 8.19 and 8.20.
36 J A D E T W I S T E D D A G G E R H I LT India (Rajasthan), late 18th century
A finely carved celadon jade dagger hilt with a stylised floral design to the quillions and pommel.
The curving grip is finely carved with a twisting spiral pattern, as it tapers gently out towards the quillons. Here, the flower motif reoccurs, with another collar of leafy, fluted segments. A thin waisted band separates this from the quillons, formed as further leafy scrolls with fluted sections.
The gently curving hilt is carved in three distinct sections. The pommel consists of three large lotus buds pointing in different directions separated by two thin, slightly scrolling leaves, which all emerge from a petalled collar. Most of the pommel has an unusual milky white russet inclusion to its surface, giving a marked contrast to the rest of the hilt and its greener hue.
Fingers sit snugly between the floral protrusions at both ends, suggesting that whilst a highly decorative piece, this hilt is also a practical instrument, fulfilling its requirements admirably. The elegant fluted spirals offer a secure grip while
Length: 13.3 cm Width: 6.2 cm
ravishing the eye and impressing by the finesse of the carving. Towards the end of the seventeenth century Indian craftsmen began to carve daggers with sculpted floral forms at their pommels. These are a type of chilanum and blend the traditional Indian form with Mughal and even Chinese naturalism.1 Reference: 1. Bashir Mohamed, The Arts of the Muslim Knight: The Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection, 2007, p. 200.
37 JADE CRUTCH HANDLE India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 3 cm Width: 14 cm Depth: 2.2 cm
A carved pale green jade crutch handle or armrest (zafar takieh or “cushion of glory”) of characteristic bifurcated form. The jade handle is curved, to take the weight of the body under the shoulder or the elbow and terminates in a six-petalled flower to each quillon. The petals of each flower are delicately incised with veins; they radiate from cabochon ruby centres set in the kundan technique within gold collets. The calyx of each flower is carved from contrasting dark green jade that wraps tightly around the neck of each quillon like a bangle or bracelet of tripartite baluster form. Supporting each calyx is a protuberant dark green collar attached to a spread foot that encloses the pale green jade core within. The ruby and gold centres of the flowers and the dark green jade calyxes and collars are luxuriant yet tastefully restrained embellishments for what is clearly a luxurious object.
takieh is smooth and polished for comfort while resting, while the underneath is carved with floral and leaf designs in low relief that while providing elegant decoration also give texture to the grip of the fingers when the crutch is held in the hand rather than used for supporting the arm or the elbow. Thus, every practicality has been carefully considered to enable form and function, art and design, to work in tandem with the decorative motifs. At the base of the zafar takieh is a hole for the insertion of the rod or staff. Zafar takiehs were used by mystics in meditation or rulers holding court and enabled the comfortable maintenance of the seated position for long periods of time, aiding and manifesting spiritual and temporal power. Very often the staff would conceal a blade for the owner’s self-protection. Gayatri Pant notes that holy men evaded a prohibition against using weapons by owning an armrest or crutch that could be swung like a mace or that might have concealed a weapon
in its shaft.1 A mid-seventeenth century handle from a zafar takieh with the terminals carved in the form of ibex heads is illustrated in Robert Skelton et al, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, 1982, pp. 118-119, no. 359. This is also published in our 2009 Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art catalogue, pp. 32-33, cat. no. 10. Seventeenth century zafar takieh handles, and a full staff with a wooden rod, carved in myriad floral forms in jade and rock crystal and set with a variety of gem-settings, are in the al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait. These exquisite specimens to which the present equally fine example may be profitably compared, are published in Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements, 2017, pp. 344-355, cat. nos. 121-126. Provenance: The Nizam of Hyderabad Auctioned at Habsburg Feldman, Antique Jewellery, Miniatures, Objects of Vertu, Fabergé, Russian and Islamic Works of Art, Geneva, Hotel des Bergues, Wednesday, 29th June 1988, lot 51/265. Reference: 1. Gayatri Pant, Indian Arms and
The concave upper surface of the zafar
Armour, Vol. II, 1978-1983, pp. 44-46.
38 WHITE SAPPHIRE, RUBY AND EMER ALD NECKL ACE Southern India, 19th century Length: 38.7 cm Inner circumference: 35 cm
A gold and gem-set necklace consisting of eighteen circular elements, each with a central flowerhead set with six white sapphire petals radiating from a red ruby centre surrounded by an outer ring of cabochon rubies set in a gold frame. Between each element is a composite flower-head set with an emerald stem or centre surrounded by a cluster of ruby petals surmounted by a delicate ruby finial flanked by white sapphire leaves. From the base of each flower-head protrudes a white sapphire calyx, its triangular form pointing down to fill the interstice between two adjacent rings of rubies. The elements of the necklace are mounted on a double gold chain. The combination of jewels in the composite flower-head resembles a kirtimukha, a mythical beast with protruding eyes and ears, horns and open mouth with fangs separated by a central tongue. In this case the central two rubies form the eyes, the white sapphire leaves form the horns and the pointed calyx forms the
protruding tongue. The kirtimukha (face of glory), a grimacing lion or yali face with no lower jaw, was often placed at the base of the blade in early southern Indian weapons to protect the blade against evil spirits that might seek revenge for violent use of the weapon. The concept also appears on medieval temples of India where the kirtimukha was intended to protect vulnerable spots on the building against evil spirits. It is thus appropriate that this southern Indian necklace should be decorated with a protective motif popular in the region for use on weapons and temples as a guardian. The fastening consists of an openwork panel with a floral design set with rubies, emeralds and white sapphires; the securing pin screws into a sleeve passing through the fastening loops, with floral finials to the top and bottom. The reverse of the necklace is in plain gold. Provenance: Spink and Son, London Exhibited and published: Spink and Son, Islamic and Hindu Jewellery, at 5, 6 and 7, King Street, London SW1, between Wednesday, 13th April and Friday, 6th May, 1988, pp. 82-83, cat. no. 76.
39 ENAMELLED GEM-SET POMMEL
India (Mughal), first half of the 18th century
Height: 8 cm Diameter: 4.2 cm
A gold pommel, decorated with red, white, blue and green enamel, set with rubies and diamonds on the face, which is further embellished with a row of seed pearls. The bold floral decoration is of rosettes, flower-heads, flowers in profile with serrated petals, leaves and chevrons, all enamelled with utmost elegance. Pommels of this type are rare, many having been lost or damaged in the course of time. This example may have decorated the tassels of a dagger, or may have hung from the belt of a patka (sash)
of a nobleman. A similar example can be seen on a dagger illustrated in Oriental Jewellery from the Collection of the Special Treasury, The State Hermitage Oriental Department, 1984, no. 111. The pommel could also have been worn by a lady at the end of her plaited ponytail, an extravagant embellishment to her coiffure. The colour of the red enamel is comparable to that found on the throne of the pleasure-loving Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (reigned 1719-1748) now in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul. The throne is illustrated in J. M. Rogers, The Topkapi Saray Museum: The Treasury, 1987, p. 188, pl. 3. Provenance: Spink and Son, London Published: Spink, Treasures of The Courts,1998, p. 19, cat. no. 13.
40 F L O R A L S P R AY S , PA R R O T A N D P E A C O C K S India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 64.5 cm Width: 101 cm Depth: 4 cm
A carved red sandstone screen, the delicately speckled red sandstone finely carved with an elegant design of three large flowering plants within a petal border. To the centre is a stylised lily plant, with flowers on tall thin stems from which sprout twisting leaves and delicate buds, the lilies with curling stamens. Perched precariously on the lily to the upper right is a single parrot pecking at the flowers. The parrot is a symbol of love in Indian art. It is the vehicle of Kama, the god of love and the impeller of creation, whose name derives from kam, meaning longing or desire. Creation is always preceded by love and desire and the parrot, as Kamaâ€™s vehicle, represents the feminine creative principle in nature.
Below the lilies is a pair of hyacinth sprays, while two confronted peacocks at the foot of the plant hold writhing snakes in their beaks. A peacock attacking a snake symbolises the triumph of eternity over the passage of time. It also represents the conquest of worldly attachments, and in more general terms, the battle between good and evil. The peacock is the vehicle of Skanda and a symbol of Krishna. Flanking the central plant are a pair of irises, which fill the remaining ground. Surrounding the design is a lappet border and a plain frame with a curved top. The carving of the flowering plants beautifully captures the sense of growth. The flowers droop languidly, their weight barely upheld by the vigorously twisting and turning stems and leaves through which the very sap of life seems to flow. The flowers and leaves push against the petal border of the panel to further convey the sense of thrusting growth. Provenance: Spink and Son, London
41 S TA R S A N D H E X A G O N S India (Mughal), 1560-1600 Height: 43.5 cm Width: 81 cm Depth: 7.5 cm
A red sandstone architectural panel carved in relief with an overall design of six-pointed stars within multiple, interlocking hexagons surrounded by a plain border. Each star is framed by a hexagon with six irregular hexagonal forms filling the adjacent interstices. From the central hexagon radiate pairs of further irregular hexagons to create petal shapes, thus the whole ensemble forming a geometric flower with the star at the centre. Though the panel is not pierced through like a jali, the recessed shadows contrast with the geometric relief to create the illusion of an openwork lattice. This is an effect seen also in Timurid glazed turquoise tiles where the depth of the relief suggests that the tiles are pierced like lace. Such panels, sometimes surrounded by a contrasting plain white marble border, would have decorated palace architecture of the Akbar period. Examples can be seen at the Akbari period red sandstone palace named the Jahangiri Mahal in the Agra Fort, constructed between 1565 and 1569. This monument is in the opinion of George Michell the finest surviving courtly building of Akbarâ€™s era. According to Michell, the misleading name derives from an inscription of Jahangir on a huge marble cistern positioned in the open space in front. Michell illustrates the faĂ§ade of the Jahangiri Mahal in George Michell and Amit Pasricha, Mughal Architecture & Gardens, 2011, pp. 132-133. We can see in the photograph similarly carved geometric panels, each framed by an inset white marble border.
99 THE TITLE OF EACH PIECE India, North India 1000-1001 Height: 00 cm Width: 00 cm Depth: 00 cm
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42 ELEPHANT BRACKET India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 58.7 cm Width: 86.5 cm Depth: 9.8 cm
A red sandstone architectural bracket in the shape of an elephant, complete with a pair of mahouts (riders) with one clutching his ankus (elephant goad). The red sandstone with mottled patches of yellow and weathered black, is carved to depict the elephant leaning slightly back, resting against one of two columns to the right, his trunk hanging down over a lotus which arches from right to left on its plump stalk. On his back sit two mahouts who turn to look towards the viewer. The elephant, his tusks shortened, is dressed with decorative chains around his ankles and he has a large blanket covering his back, held in place by chains around his rear and under his stomach. An ornamental chain also hangs around his head. The columns have two differing designs, one of a central diamond and the other with a series of circular discs. Both pillars are engraved to the top and bottom. This charming architectural bracket would have come from a Mughal building in Agra or Fatehpur Sikri1. Provenance: Spink and Son, London Reference: 1. For a red sandstone bracket with a similar design see John Guy and Deborah Swallow (eds.), Arts of India 1550-1900, 1990, p. 64. This comes from “Jahangir’s Quadrangle” in Lahore Fort, which was begun by Akbar and completed during Jahangir’s reign. Like the present example, it reflects the same interest in Hindu architecture as seen in early Mughal buildings of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.
43 F L O R I AT E D B E N C H A R M India (Mughal), early 18th century Height: 54.5 cm Width: 74 cm Depth: 6 cm
A carved and pierced double-sided red sandstone openwork panel, the discreetly mottled, striated and richly coloured red sandstone finely carved in the form of a scrolling bench arm. One of two bench arms, this would have formed part of a magnificent red sandstone bench with a floral back, plain seat for comfort and quite possibly floriated legs to continue the decorative theme. The way the
bench is constructed can be seen from the slots on the post to the left, into which corresponding tangs from the back would have been inserted, and the projecting tangs at the bottom of the panel, which would have securely fixed the arm to the seat that would have been correspondingly indented. The post is surmounted by a bulb finial. In the corner formed by the upright post and the horizontal base of the panel is an openwork floral quadrant consisting of overlapping lotus petals encircled by an outer frieze of petals. The glory of the bench arm is the dramatic S-curve that sweeps down in a diagonal, sprouting bold, sinuous curling leaves and terminating in the flourish of a pendant unopened bud with multiple layers of petals, surmounted by a bifurcated leaf scroll that leans back with a yearning caress onto the top of the bench, as if unwilling for the pattern to end. The leaves and petals are finely carved with subtle gradations of depth on both sides and immaculate detailing of veins and curling
tips, outlined by subtle flutes that skilfully incorporate the natural striated layering of the sandstone. The precise carving of the carefully chosen sandstone has allowed the natural qualities of the stone such as the delicate white speckles to be incorporated as decorative elements of the design. The abundant fecundity of this bench arm epitomises the superfloriated designs of the eighteenth century in India. The architectural historian Christopher Tadgell describes the prevalent style of the period as one of great floridity, which he compares with developments in Rococo Europe, “the architectonic ceding to the vegetal, until columns become baluster-like bundles of reeds and arches were overcome by creeper-like cusps.”1 The back of the bench, carved in the form of a rectangular cartouche with an arched central section flanked by a square compartment on each side, all replete with scrolling leaves and rosettes, is published in the Spink catalogue, Gopis, Goddesses & Demons: Indian & Islamic Works of Art, 2000, pp. 98-101, cat. no. 59. The bench back is now on display as part of the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de l’Océan Indien (MADOI), la Réunion. Provenance: Spink and Son, London Reference: 1. Christopher Tadgell, The History of Architecture in India: From the Dawn of Civilization to the End of the Raj, 1990, p. 263.
44 HEXAGONS AND NONAGONS India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 38.5 cm Width: 58 cm Depth: 5 cm
A carved double-sided white marble jali screen with an intricate geometric design of interlocking and overlapping hexagons and nonagons. The mathematics of this precise and beautifully calculated jali is achieved by overlaying the centres of the nonagons on the points of the hexagons. The resultant geometric formations include six-pointed stars to the centre of each hexagon and three spokes to each nonagon that give them the sense of turning wheels. The design has a radiant energy, enhanced by the precision of the carving and the beautifully chamfered surfaces, which align simplicity with an impeccable finish. The geometric lattice is framed by a broad plain border with a curved top, suggesting that the jali would have been used as a balustrade panel. A tang to either side shows where the jali would have been slotted into posts to create an entire balustrade. Though characteristic of jali designs of the early seventeenth century, the jali has a striking modernity through its purity of form. Provenance: Spink and Son, London
45 MARBLE ARCH India (Mughal), 17th century Height: 40.3 cm Width: 29.8 cm Depth: 7.5 cm
A carved white marble arch, the discreetly mottled white marble finely carved in high relief of varying levels with an arch of cusped mihrab form. The opening of the arch is defined by a rope design composed of twisting leaves, crowned by an iris blossom to the apex. To each spandrel is a bold composite rosette with a small sixpetalled flower superimposed to the centre of a larger flower with veined petals that curl to the tip. The arch and spandrels are framed to the top and right by a border of stylised leaves carved on an incline, giving a sense of movement to the fine balance of the elegant design. The arch and spandrels are inset within a recess, surrounded to the top and right by a broad plain border surmounted by a narrower border of stylised leaves similar to the leaves framing the recess. A luxuriant spray of acanthus leaves ornaments the base of the pillar to the right. The side of the pillar is embellished with an incised flute and simple capital defining a pilaster, with another acanthus spray in relief to the base. The arch is surmounted to the top by a frieze of cusped and waisted trefoil medallion palmettes, each carved in relief and standing on an indented foot. The recessed shapes created by the trefoil medallion palmettes in relief are exact mirrors of the medallions in reserve and inverted. The little flower buds that ornament the feet of the medallions are mirrored by buds that stand proud in high relief above. Multiple fluted horizontal borders in varying levels of relief forming a projecting ledge frame the frieze and divide it from the arch below. Provenance: Spink and Son, London
46 P O P P Y A N D I R I S PA N E L India (Mughal), circa 1700 Height: 34.5 cm Width: 54 cm Depth: 8 cm
A carved white marble architectural panel of serpentine form, deeply carved in high relief with a frieze to the centre of three large flowering plants interspersed with elegant cypress trees that act as divisions within the frieze. The bold simplicity of the spear-shaped cypress trees contrasts with the luxuriant naturalism of the poppy, iris and composite flowers and leaves. The panel is bordered to the top by a row of linked iris buds with their heads facing right, arranged like a frieze. Another row of buds facing left frames the panel to the bottom,
with additional borders of serrated trefoil foliate design above this and un-serrated foliate design below. These complex and contrasting designs are masterfully incorporated into a design of supreme elegance. A serpentine white marble frieze of closely related design is published in the Spink catalogue, Passion & Tranquillity: Indian & Islamic Works of Art, 1998, p. 96, cat. no. 54. The design is very similar but instead of cypress trees, stylised floral displays rising from fountain-shaped bases are interspersed with the flowering plants, the elaborate and formal floral bouquets arranged as ogivals and palmettes.
47 P O M E G R A N AT E T R E E Western India (Gujarat, Saurashtra), 18th century Height: 80 cm Width: 21 cm Depth: 5.7 cm
A fragment from a stone frieze carved and covered with stucco, the stucco further carved in relief with a design of a stylised tree richly laden with exotic fruits and heightened by coloured pigments. From the tall central stem of the tree spread sinuous curling frond-like branches to either side, each branch bristling with leaves and bearing luxuriant pomegranates and little buds. The pomegranates hang languidly downwards, ripe and heavy with juice, a symbol of the benevolent fecundity of nature and its glorious bounty. The sprightly branches and leaves seem to resist the weight of the pomegranates, springing and vibrating as if with the very sap of life itself. To the top of the tree are further buds about to burst into fruit and flower. The design is full of movement yet has a harmonious elegance and an extravagant splendour. The subtle beauty of the panel comes from the fact that though the design seems at first symmetrical, no two parts of the panel actually mirror each other. In the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, formerly known as Kathiawad, cut stucco is not known to have been used in the pre-Mughal period, as the area is well known for its carved stonework from as early as the Buddhist period. In the eighteenth century, when the area was under the control of the local Rajputs, painted stucco was favoured in place of cut stonework. This practice can be seen particularly in residential buildings as they could be decorated more swiftly and economically with stucco than carved stone, two important points for the minor Rajputs, who no longer had the resources of their predecessors. We have therefore dated the panel to the eighteenth century. This rare and unusual panel is a fine example of the compelling beauty that can be achieved with the method of cut and painted stucco. Provenance: Spink and Son, London
48 T H E D E F E AT A N D F L I G H T O F M I R Z A S U L A I M A N India (Mughal), 1595-1600 By Basawan and Baghwan Folio: Height: 36.1 cm Width: 23.8 cm Miniature: Height: 32.7 cm Width: 20.3 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A folio from the “Third” Akbarnama manuscript. Mounted on an album page most probably dating to the eighteenth century. Inscribed in nasta liq at the bottom of the page on the right: C
“Design (?) of Basawan, work of Baghwan.” Further inscribed in nasta liq to the left of this, in Persian: C
“The flight of Mirza Sulaiman and the pursuit of… the victorious army of His World Protecting Highness (i.e. Humayun).” The Akbarnama of Abu’l Fazl is the biography of the Mughal emperor Akbar and an imperial chronicle of his reign (1556-1605) and that of his father Humayun (1530-1540; 1555-1556). As a prelude to
their histories, details of Babur’s reign and his life with the young prince Humayun are also given. On 9th Rajab 933 (11th April 1527), the Mughal emperor Babur (reigned 1526-1530) dispatched his son Prince Humayun to administer the region of Kabul and Badakhshan, following the conquest of Mewat. Badakhshan had been committed to Humayun since 1511 with the death of the Timurid ruler of Badakhshan, Mirza Khan. In 1520, Babur appointed Humayun as the regent to Mirza Sulaiman, the infant son of the deceased Timurid monarch. This painting depicts an event of 1546 that takes place during the troubled interregnum of fifteen years between the two periods of Humayun’s reign as emperor,
when he lost control of the Mughal territories to Sher Shah Suri, only regaining his empire in 1555 with Safavid assistance. Mirza Sulaiman was in 1546 no longer the infant requiring a regent that he was in 1520, but a rebellious young man who, having taken up the reign of rule of Badakhshan himself, threw off all allegiance to the weakened Humayun. He had recently omitted to attend in person Humayun’s court at Kabul, sending only an ambassador with gifts. This was a grand event with a sumptuous feast that was even attended by emissaries from the court of the Safavid Shah Tamasp, and the absence of Mirza Sulaiman greatly displeased Humayun. Mirza Sulaiman’s insubordination soon escalated into full scale rebellion. Acts of insolence that confirmed his disaffection included the taking of Khust and Andarab, after he had briefly captured Kabul which Humayun regained, and the reading of the khutba (public sermon) under his own name rather than that of Humayun’s. Contrary to Mirza Sulaiman’s grandiose ambitions and what the text calls his “vain imagination”, from Abu’l Fazl’s Mughal viewpoint, “by theory and practise the whole of Badakhshan did not belong to M. Sulaiman, and his Majesty desired also to take away Qanduz and its dependencies and to make them over in fief to one of his followers, and bade him be content with what his Majesty Giti-sitani Firdaus-makani [Babur] had given to his father [Mirza Khan].”
In response to Mirza Sulaiman’s seditious activities, Humayun dispatched an army to Badakhshan in March 1546 to quell the flames of discontent, fearing that Mirza Sulaiman’s rebellion would spread like wildfire amongst the other families that made up the subordinate rulers of his vassal states. A great battle between Humayun’s army and the rebel forces of Mirza Sulaiman ensued around the village of Tirgiran, a dependency of the Andarab. Mirza Sulaiman protected himself behind a deep trench and stood firm, a body of archers discharging their arrows from behind the barrier that wounded many Mughal officers and forced them to dismount from their fallen horses. For a long time, no clear winner was in sight but finally the Mughal forces crossed the trench and attacked Mirza Sulaiman’s general, Mirza Beg Barlas, whose soldiers began to flee or accept defeat.
After the Mughal army had secured a swift victory over the rebel prince, Humayun himself arrived in the region and pursued the defeated army. Sulaiman fled with his dwindling forces into the defiles (narrow valleys) of Khust by way of Narin and Ishkamigh. Badakhshani courtiers and soldiers came forward to pay homage to Humayun and were treated with consideration by the emperor. Humayun than joined his army in the seizure of the fugitives and took part in the pursuit himself. Mirza Sulaiman crossed the River Amu Darya (the Oxus) with only a small straggly band of followers and was now a completely spent force. With the rebellion firmly quelled, Humayun divided Badakhshan into fiefs amongst his officers for better management of its affairs. For Beveridge’s translation of this section of the Akbarnama, see The Akbar Nama of Abu’l-Fazl (History of the reign of Akbar including an account of his predecessors), vol. III, 1939, pp. 490-493.1 Beveridge’s title for the chapter which this painting illustrates is “March
of his Majesty Jahanbani JannatAshiyani’s army for the conquest of Badakhshan, the victory over that country, and what happened during the time.” This painting with soldiers and animals elegantly zigzagging across a rocky landscape is a masterful composition by one of the greatest painters of Akbar’s atelier, Basawan, considered by many the pre-eminent artist of the time. According to Linda Leach, who attributes to Basawan the magnificent painting “The supply train crosses the bridge of boats on the Ganges” illustrated on p. 52, fig. 8
of her article on the Third Akbarnama that brought this great imperial manuscript to light, it is Basawan who conveys the spirit of Akbar’s age and the temperament of Akbar himself better than all other Mughal painters.2 Basawan is known from approximately 140 compositions made over his long career of thirty-three years, during which he was involved in the production of paintings for nearly every major illustrated manuscript produced in the imperial
atelier, including pages of the Hamzanama and the First Akbarnama now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Leach observes the general acknowledgement that Basawan’s twelve known outlines (designs) for paintings of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s First Akbarnama, including one divorced from the main body of the manuscript now in the Art Institute of Chicago, are visual high points of that history. Basawan introduced innovative pictorial devices to the Mughal atelier by exploring form, volume and spatial recession. According to John Seyller, he showed with his illustrious compatriots Keshav Das and Daswanth an extraordinary receptiveness to European art and incorporated many of its visual effects, especially pronounced tonal modelling and atmospheric perspective, into his work as early as the 1560s.3 Basawan combined these new effects with inventive compositions,
portrait-like faces and many empirical observations of Indian characters and settings and thus charted the course of Mughal painting away from its Persian roots.4 Many of these early pictorial innovations, now the practiced tools of a great master, can clearly be observed in the present folio that is witness to the uniqueness of Basawan’s mature style. The inventive and dynamic composition is constructed on a series of diagonals that lead the eye from left to right then left to right again, inwards and upwards into the inner depths and soaring heights of the scene. The visual rhythms are inexorable, and the structure of the painting underpinned by both clarity and power. As we travel up and into the scene with Basawan, he demonstrates his great observational skills and within the sweep of the historical drama, manages to somehow slow time down sufficiently to give us closely studied individualised portraits of the figures and faces. No two are alike in gesture, expression, posture, features, rank, race or dress, accurately reflecting the mixed composition of the Mughal army. The painting is prolific in interest points with passages of great beauty as the figures march up the exquisitely coloured and delineated landscape. Time metamorphosises into timelessness as the chase that begins at the bottom of the picture comes to a standstill with the three generals at the top who no longer gallop after Mirza Sulaiman’s rebel troops but stand on the top of the mountain surveying all that they now control. As Jerry Losty observes, often Mughal battle scenes seem rather confused, but Basawan here, as he does elsewhere, has carefully differentiated the various episodes with the strategic placing of screens of rocks, which also has the effect of creating spatial depth within the picture. It is a clear and very fine design. The
colouring also, although attributed to another artist as was Mughal practice in historical manuscripts, is especially pleasing and harmonious. Baghwan, whose name is mentioned as well in the inscription at the bottom of this folio, was also a notable painter of the Mughal court whose work included other folios from the First Akbarnama (some now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum: IS.2:491896, IS.2:52-1896). This page is one of more than twenty miniatures that have recently come to light from an important royal manuscript thought to have belonged to Akbar’s mother, Hamida Banu Begam. Scholars who have studied these paintings, in particular Linda York Leach, have identified the manuscript as a third royal Akbarnama. The earliest Akbarnama manuscript is primarily in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has 116 miniatures. This first Akbarnama was painted around 1590-1595 and presented to the emperor as Abu’l Fazl was still working on the text. The Victoria and Albert Museum paintings deal with the middle years of Akbar’s reign (1560-1577). Though dateable to 1590-1595, the paintings are still in the style of the 1580s, full of vigour and excitement.
of the 47th year of Akbar’s reign, corresponding to 1602-1603. The dating of the second Akbarnama is discussed in J. P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, 2012, p. 58. According to Leach in her study, “Pages from an Akbarnama”, in Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge and Andrew Topsfield (eds.), Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, 2004, pp. 42-55, the newly discovered third Akbarnama pages are related to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s highly coloured, dynamic illustrations and were probably painted after Akbar’s own series, between 1595 and 1600. Stylistically, this manuscript is closer to the first Akbarnama than the later one. Leach convincingly suggests several reasons for identifying the royal family member for whom this Akbarnama was commissioned as Hamida Banu Begam, Akbar’s mother. Provenance: From a private collection that has been in England since the 1940s. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and Will Kwiatkowski for his kind reading of the inscription and the identification of the subject. References: 1. https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet/
The second illustrated copy of the Akbarnama, commissioned early in the next century with the text brought up to date, is divided between the British Library in London, which owns 39 illustrations, and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, which has 66 paintings. This second Akbarnama is quite different in style from the first manuscript, more refined and less dynamic, with many of the pages lightly tinted rather than highly coloured like that of Akbar’s own copy. It was produced between 1602 and 1603, probably to commemorate the tragic assassination of Abu’l Fazl in 1602. Amongst the paintings is a dated miniature containing the Ilahi date
dli.2015.103005/2015.103005.AkbarnamaVol-lii#page/n489/mode/2up 2. Linda York Leach, “Pages from an Akbarnama”, in Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge and Andrew Topsfield (eds.), Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, 2004, pp. 42-55. 3. John Seyller, “Basawan” in Milo Cleveland Beach, Eberhard Fischer and B. N. Goswamy (eds.), with Jorrit Britschgi, Masters of Indian Painting, Vol. I: 1100-1650, 2011, pp. 119-134. 4. Ibid. 5. https://archive. org/stream/in.ernet. dli.2015.103005/ page/n489
49 GUNDAMALARA RAGAPUTRA OF MEGHA RAGA Northern India (Sub-Imperial Mughal), 1610-1620 Folio: Height: 22 cm Width: 30 cm Miniature: Height: 12.3 cm Width: 19.4 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to the earliest Kshemakarna Ragamala series. Inscribed on the recto in black devanagari, in the wide buff border above the painting, with three lines of Sanskrit that give Kshemakarna’s dhyana verse 95 from his Ragamala theoretical treatise of 1570. The inscription describes and identifies the raga illustrated as Gundamalara, the sixth son (putra) of Megha Raga: “Dark, with a string of pearls on the neck, well-fed, together with the beloved, with banana leaves tied to the head and fibres, living in the Vindhya Mountains, Meandering through and encountering a peacock in the dense forest, holding his arrow and bow. Is this Gundamalara of the sages, and the yakshas, the one the peacocks love? Gundamalara, the sixth son of Megha Raga.” Numbered “84” in the lower right corner. The verso, as with all pages from this series, is uninscribed. The exquisite painting closely follows Kshemakarna’s verse and illustrates Gundamalara as a dark-skinned hunter carrying a bow and arrows, wearing a skirt made of leaves, with a deer skin draped over his shoulders as a cape. He is indeed well-fed as stated in the verse, not portly but strong, stocky and robust, in rude health due
to his active outdoor life and good diet. He is depicted against a vivid yellow background in a beautiful forest surrounded by birds. He is accompanied by his beloved wife, who is dressed in the refined manner of a Mughal courtier with abundant courtly jewellery, her skirt tied by a long patka (sash) and a diaphanous scarf covering her whole body in a translucent shimmer, the antithesis of forest clothing. Her aristocratic presence within the sylvan setting is echoed by the painterly devices deployed by the artist. The intense colours and flat plane of the yellow background signify a strong Rajput influence, but this is modified by the beloved’s Mughal
costume and elements of recession into space and distance learnt from Mughal art. Gundamalara is placed close to the picture plane near the viewer and while his large size indicates that he is the subject and hence the most important figure, the smaller figure of the woman also indicates that she is set further back. The peacock seems to be placed a bit behind Gundamalara but still forward of the lady on the shallow pictorial stage. Size is also used to indicate not only different species of birds but how far away they are and how high they soar in the sky. The Mughal device of atmospheric recession, where the Rajput yellow background changes to
a naturalistic blue sky streaked with white clouds on the high horizon and tiny birds fly in the distance, is used to open and elevate the space to giddy heights. The faraway birds are smaller than the busy insects that buzz around the luxuriant flowers in the middle ground. Even the variegated trees that frame the scene are set neatly one behind the other, like the ranks of a corps de ballet, to create a spatial stage for our hunter hero. The foreground is filled with moulded and shaded three-dimensional rocks in the Mughal manner that in turn has roots in Safavid painting. This painting comes from an illustrated series that is celebrated as the earliest known ragamala based on Kshemakarna’s famous Sanskrit text. Kshemakarna was a sixteenth century court priest in the service of the powerful and highly cultivated Raja Ramachandra Singh (1555-1592) of the Vaghela dynasty who ruled over the small Hindu kingdom of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh in central India. Ramachandra maintained a musically talented court which included the legendary Tansen, Vaishanvite composer, instrumentalist and vocalist, the Mozart of Indian classical music. Such was Tansen’s reputation that the emperor Akbar, to whom Ramachandra was subordinate, sent messengers requesting Tansen to join the musicians of the imperial court. Though Tansen did not want to go and Ramachandra was loathe to lose the finest musician in India, finally in 1562 Tansen was persuaded to join Akbar’s court and his astonishing performances before a wide audience became the subject of many court historians. It is from this cultivated milieu that arose Kshemakarna’s Ragamala treatise of 1570, fusing music, poetry and painting. The treatise had a pivotal influence on early ragamala painting. It describes the ragamala family comprising six principal ragas, with their five or six raginis (wives),
and eight or nine ragaputras (sons of ragas). The paintings in the series closely follow the descriptions in the accompanying text. Previously attributed to the Deccan, this ragamala series is now more commonly catalogued as subimperial or “popular Mughal”. Although not successfully attributed to any particular court or patron, it has been convincingly argued that the paintings are closely related in style to the work of artists who were discharged from Akbar’s library when his son Jahangir came to the throne in 1605. According to Robert Skelton, who publishes two paintings from this series in Catherine Glynn, Robert Skelton and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Ragalama Paintings from India: From the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, 2011, pp. 66-69, cat. nos. 14 and 15, a number of these artists took up service in the provinces or continued to work in the capital, Agra, producing illustrated manuscripts for members of the nobility who either resided in the city or paid visits to Agra when summoned to attend the imperial court. It is clear that some of the painters went into the full-time service of Hindu rajas or other members of the Mughal military establishment. These factors explain the delicate balance of strong Rajput colours and style with Mughal costumes and spatial devices. Eight paintings from this series are examined by Joachim Karl Bautze in his article,
“Iconographic Remarks on Some Folios of the Oldest Illustrated Kshemakarna Ragamala”, in Georg Berkemer, Tilman Frasch, Hermann Kulke and Jürgen Lütt (eds.), Explorations in the History of South Asia: Essays in Honour of Dietmar Rothermund, 2001, pp. 157-163. Several paintings including the present are the subject of a book by Ludwig V. Habighorst, Moghul Ragamala: Gemalte indische Tonfolgen und Dichtung des Kshemakarna, 2006; our painting is illustrated on pp. 47 and 111. According to Bautze, the series is outstanding for a number of reasons: until recently it was practically unknown; it predates all other ragamalas following Kshemakarna’s system; each of its folios is inscribed with Kshemakarna’s iconographic text; its illustrations follow Kshemakarna’s text (dhyanas) more closely than any other known comparable ragamala series; and the artist did not care much for the visualisation of the source of the voice or sound to which the music is compared in verses 98-109 of Kshemakarna’s text.1 It is Bautze’s opinion that despite speculative attributions that have attempted to locate the genesis of these paintings, we must accept the fact that this ragamala is of uncertain provenance. It lacks a colophon which could tell us more about its origin, and the paintings follow a style prevalent in large parts of northern India during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. When the ragamala was discovered in a private collection near Udaipur and published in 1984 by R. K. Tandan and S. Doshi in “A Ragamala Series” in Marg 34 (3), pp. 96-98, the series was still intact with 86 folios. A more precise location of this ragamala in terms of style and origin has to be left to future research when more illustrations become available or further evidence emerges.2
A close study of our painting and those discussed by Bautze, Skelton and Habighorst reveal a very close adherence to Kshemakarna’s dhyana text, and scant attention to the sound or voice of the raga prescribed by Kshemakarna. Comparable paintings from the Punjab Hills do not follow the text as closely, while conversely paying considerable attention to the sound of the raga which our series ignores. While most of the illustrated ragamalas following Kshemakarna’s system come from the Pahari region, the oldest surviving examples do not predate the 1670s, so they are considerably later in date than our Mughal series.3 The Pahari series demonstrate how time and distance from the original source result in divergences and modulations, often inventive and delightful. These changes can be studied by the way in which Pahari artists interpret Gundamalara.
“A man in the Vindhya mountains, with bow and arrow, his head covered with pisang (plantain) leaves and raffia [or bast fibre]”.5 In stanza 100 Kshemakarna gives the sound of Gundmalara as that of an unspecified machine that “speaks” the mode.6 The Pahari iconography has crystallised as a pair of leaf-clad tribal hunters, husband and wife working together to entrap gazelle with the music of a vina. The vina, which is not mentioned by Kshemarkarna, reintroduces the concept of music to the visual imagery and may be the Pahari interpretation of the unspecified machine that is the sound for Gundamalara. Deer are not mentioned in Kshemakarna’s text nor the fact that the wife has become a leaf-clad hunter and these are Pahari inventions. Provenance: Dr Ludwig V. Habighorst
Kshemakarna’s ragamala system contains two sets of verses. In the first set, each musical mode is described as a person. In the second, Kshemakarna compares each raga, ragini (wife) or ragaputra (son) to a sound either found in nature, such as the hiss of a snake or the voice of a bird, or made by a human activity, such as churning butter or washing clothes.4 Though loosely based on Kshemakarna, Pahari artists devised their own imaginative iconographies for his verses, modifying his interpretations, combining the sounds he describes with the images he suggests, and incorporating word play in the ragas themselves.
Published: Ludwig V. Habighorst, Moghul Ragamala: Gemalte indische Tonfolgen und Dichtung des Kshemakarna, 2006, pp. 47 and 111. Acknowledgement: We are grateful to Rukmani Kumari Rathore for her kind reading and translation of the inscription. References: 1.
Joachim Karl Bautze, “Iconographic
Remarks on Some Folios of the Oldest Illustrated Kshemakarna Ragamala”, in Georg Berkemer, Tilman Frasch, Hermann Kulke and Jürgen Lütt (eds.), Explorations in the History of South Asia: Essays in Honour of Dietmar Rothermund, 2001, pp. 157-163.
The Chenchus of Andhra, distinguished by their leaf skirts and headdress and the Bhils of central and western India, are the two tribes most frequently depicted in court arts. Their savage ways, costumes and hunting dexterity fascinated Indian court painters and poets, including Kshemakarna whose visual iconography in verse 95 describes
Anna L. Dallapiccola, “Ragamala painting,
a brief introduction” in Catherine Glynn, Robert Skelton and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Ragalama Paintings from India: From the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, 2011, pp. 19-20. 5.
Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973,
p. 78. 6.
50 K R I S H N A A N D R A D H A I N A PAV I L I O N India (Guler), 1780-1785 Folio: Height: 19.5 cm Width: 28.5 cm Image: Height: 14.5 cm Width: 23.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A painting from a Sundar Shringar series. Inscribed in devanagari on the reverse with four lines of text, the subject or title of the scene written in red, followed by the description in black. On the cover sheet is the stamp of the Royal Mandi Library. The verse is in braj bhasha, the Western Hindi dialect in which the Sundar Shringar of Sundar Das is written: atha prautha suratanta varnana// kavita// rasa ranga bhare ang sang priya pitha so-i rahe sushle sushde// ihi veech jageha riju ugri angiya pardi thigai parke// kuch upar deshyo nasachat sundar aath ko aankuso ae soles// man ku manam thake hathi chadhyo hai mahavat judhyan ankus le// 31// A complete translation of the braj bhasha has proven difficult but Rukmani Kumari Rathore has kindly produced a partial reading from which much of the sense can be gathered: [in red] description of prautha surantanta // poem// [in black] with satiated limbs (or limbs filled with the delights of love) she besides her beloved sleeps…// the space between them…happy limbs… tired…//her upper body bare…
beautiful…eyes closed?…// he thinks to himself …of a mahavat (mahout) with an ankus (elephant goad) climbing an elephant//31// According to Jerry Losty, who illustrates two paintings from this elegant series in J. P. Losty, A Mystical Realm of Love: Pahari paintings from the Eva and Konrad Seitz Collection, 2017, pp. 290-294, cat. nos. 81 and 82, the Sundar Shringar is a poetic text dealing with the moods of love and the systematic classification of literary heroes (nayakas) and heroines (nayikas). The series uses Radha and Krishna as figures emblematic of courtship and romance, as dealt with in the poem, and in the paintings they work through the various stages of their passion. The poem covers much the same ground as the earlier Rasikapriya of Keshav Das, also in braj bhasha, and the Sanskrit Rasamanjari of Bhanudatta.1 It was written by the poet Sundar Das, a contemporary of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who died in 1689. Sundar Das describes himself in the introduction to the Sundar Shringar as having received the titles kaviraya (prince among poets) and maha kaviraya (poet laureate) from the emperor. These titles must have been conferred early in Shah Jahan’s reign (1627-1658) since Sundar Das completed the text of the Sundar Shringar in 1631, just four years after Shah Jahan’s ascension to the throne.2 We have learnt from Losty that our Sundar Das must be differentiated from his famous contemporary Kavi Sundar Das (1596-1689), a disciple of Daduju, who was a revered Vaishnavite saint, poet and philosopher.3 Indeed, the two poets are sometimes erroneously conflated into one person. The two men were very different in appearance. There is a Guler painting of circa 1750-1760 in the Freer
Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., attributed to Nainsukh that depicts “The Poet Sundar Das before Shah Jahan” (accession no. F2017.13.4). This was formerly in the Ralph and Catherine Benkaim Collection and is catalogued by the Freer Sackler as a folio from an earlier Sundar Shringar series. The style is that of Nainsukh himself and not in the manner of the First Generation after Nainsukh and Manaku as with our painting; thus the Freer Sackler dating and attribution are convincing. On the verso are four lines of verse from the Sundar Shringar and an inscription that tells us the esteemed emperor ordered Sundar Das to compose the Sundar Shringar. If this is correct, the Sundar Shringar is a royal commission. The poet is elaborately dressed in the finery of a royal courtier. Images of the Vaishnavite saint Kavi Sundar Das on the other hand depict an ascetic. On a 1997 stamp of India he is shown wearing a loin cloth, a sash, prayer beads and not much else. He sits in a meditative cross-legged position with an arm stretched out to teach and his saintly profile is framed by a nimbus. Our elegant Sundar Shringar painting concerns the praudha-suratanta nayika, the experienced woman after lovemaking. She is sleeping soundly after making passionate love, but her lover is wide awake, looking thoughtfully into space. As the nayaka is depicted as blue-skinned Krishna, the nayika is cast as Radha. The painting captures with delicate precision and exquisite nuance the rapt intensity of the verse. Under an evening sky of azure darkening to inky blue yet uncloaked by the saturated black of deepest night, the spent lovers lie close together on the lower half of the bed, the upper half an expanse of unused white sheet, the lower a
delicious tangle of bodies. Thus, the lovers are located within both a specific time and a defined space. Their nestling is beautifully observed; it signals tenderness even when the potent heat of desire has just been spent. The longing for continued proximity and lingering touch means the couple do not disentwine. Krishna holds her close with his right arm that droops languidly over the bed while he supports his raised head with his left. Radha lifts her left knee slightly to further undulate their linked forms while imparting grace to her posture. What goes through Krishna’s mind is revealed by the last line of the text, which tell us that the elephant of Manmatha or Kama (the god of love), comes into his thoughts. The hero compares himself to the mahout mounting the elephant with his ankus (goad). Losty notes that besides the subtle yet clear sexual references to mounting and riding, Kama’s elephant is also often depicted in paintings as a composite creature, with women forming the elephant’s body. Losty observes marks of light bruising on Radha’s forearm and upper arm, where Krishna has held her too tightly with his fingers. Perhaps nail marks remind him of the marks of the ankus on Manmatha’s elephant. The bed is set within a chamber lined with carved grey chini kana panels. These are filled with a pair of slender long-necked vases (surahi) in white and purple thus referencing the contrasting skin tones of Radha and Krishna, and clusters of ripe fruit, the erotic connotations of which are clear. As far as we can ascertain, identical wall niches in other paintings from this series are invariably bare, signifying emptiness, loneliness or other complex feelings of abandonment or yearning within the elaborate classification system. Here the abundance of fruit and drink indicate ripeness, fulfilment, abundance and also the maturity of the praudha-suratanta nayika.
The room is entered by a door, now closed, with panelling of rectangles rotating around and within squares. This panelling is characteristic of this series and can be seen for example in the painting illustrated by Losty, 2017, on p. 295, cat. no. 82. There the door is also further protected by a rolled-up blind as in our painting and the room is lined with empty chini kana niches. On p. 292, cat. no 81, the same bare niches can be found as well as the interlocking pink hexagons on the wall outside the love pavilion, which we also see in our painting. Again, this is consistent with the iconography of the series, where high walls, closed doors and rolled blinds add to the sense of interiority and secrecy. Losty observes that the Sundar Shringar series, executed in the landscape format, has only recently
emerged into public view. Twentyone paintings from this superlative dispersed series first appeared at Sothebyâ€™s New York between 2005 and 2008.4 The paintings seem contemporary with or just slightly later than three of the other masterly poetic series from the sons of Nainsukh and Manaku, the Sat Sai of Bihari, the Ragamala, and the Baramasa, making use of the same female type.5 Losty notes that these famous series all utilise the portrait format, as was the usual practice during the 1770s and the early 1780s. For Losty, the landscape format harks back to the much earlier Basohli/Nurpur Rasamanjari sets which similarly used the landscape format and placed the action of the hero, heroine and observers/commentators within a pavilion.6 The Rasamanjari nayaka
is also portrayed as blue Krishna. Thus, the Sundar Shringar is a homage to a venerated Pahari tradition.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Rukmani Kumari Rathore for her translation of the text and Jerry Losty for his expert advice and interpretation
Additionally, the paintings apply the concepts of the celebrated Gita Govinda7, in which Krishna and Radha work through various stages of their passion over a series of ravishing landscapes, transferred in the Sundar Shringar to an urban architectural setting. Thus, the presentation of the Sundar Shringar closes in as much as the Gita Govinda opens out, yet both texts and series of paintings are impelled by the same yearning for love that is at once both erotic yet spiritual.
of the painting. References: 1. J.P. Losty, A Mystical Realm of Love: Pahari Paintings from the Eva and Konrad Seitz Collection, 2017, p. 290. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. For other paintings from the same series, see Sothebyâ€™s New York, 1st April 2005, lots 110-113; 20th September 2005, lots 106109; 29th March 2006, lots 149-152; 19th September 2006, lots 1-5; 19th March 2008, lots 205-208; 19th September 2008, lots 201-204.
5. Losty, 2017, p. 291.
Private German Collection, acquired from
the Royal Mandi Library in 1969
7. Dated by Losty to 1765-1770 but later
Sothebyâ€™s, Indian & Southeast Asian Works of
by other scholars such as Goswamy and
Art, New York, 19th March 2008, lot 208
Fischer to 1775-1780.
51 B A L A R A M A B AT T L E S T H E A R M I E S O F S H I S H U PA L A India (Kangra), 1800-1810 Height: 24.8 cm Width: 33.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Rukmini Haran series. A titanic battle is taking place between Krishna’s armies and the massed armies of Shishupala and his allied forces. The vast army of the Yadava clan is led by Balarama holding his ploughshare and seated in a howdah on a charging elephant. The action is propelled from right to left by Balarama, preceded by the front line of Balarama’s cavalry, which has caught up with the enemy forces advancing from the left to right. The fallen and the injured from both sides lie trampled on the blood-stained ground beneath the opposing forces. A horse lies decapitated in the background and a beheaded soldier sprawls before the bejewelled and truncated tusks of the elephant. In the far distance, more massed troops in support of Balarama arrive at the scene and give chase to Shishupala’s forces. Bringing up the rear behind the elephant is the bulk of Balarama’s cavalry and infantry regiments, so vast as to trail off the page on the right. As depicted,
the balance of the battle has just tilted in Balarama’s favour, with his forces dominant and outnumbering the enemy by ten to one. The Rukmini Haran is the story of Krishna’s abduction and subsequent marriage to Rukmini, who is betrothed to Shishupala, the powerful king of the Chedis. At a magnificent durbar Rukmini’s father, Bhishmaka, king of Kundinapura (Vidarbha) with his five sons and courtiers, discuss Rukmini’s prospective marriage with a family priest (purohit), who is the gobetween for the proposed union between Rukmini and Shishupala. Though they have never met, the lovely Rukmini has lost her heart to Krishna, of whose powers and virtues she has heard for so long, and they decide to marry one another. Rukmin, Rukmini’s brother and Bhishmaka’s eldest son, is against this union and has set his mind upon marrying her off to Shishupala.1 With her marriage arranged and announced, Rukmini is devoid of all hope and in great despair. She decides as a last resort, a day before her wedding, to send a letter via
a trusted Brahmin to Krishna. She has devised a means of escape by suggesting that Krishna abducts her on her way to worship the goddess Ambhika at her shrine, just before her marriage to Shishupala. Rukmini tells Krishna that “shedding all bashfulness [her heart has entered] into the Immortal Lord”. Her letter also informs him that Shishupala and the armies of all his allies, including the mighty Jarasanda, king of Magadha, who has sworn to wipe Krishna’s Yadava clan off the face of the earth, are gathering at Kundinapura to attend the royal wedding. Upon hearing from the Brahmin details of the constellation under which the marriage is to take place, Krishna sends a reply to Rukmini asking her to “banish all her sorrows”. Krishna arrives at Kundinapura, ostensibly as a wedding guest. He is accompanied by his brother Balarama, who leads a huge army consisting of infantry, horses, elephants and chariots. They are received by King Bhishmaka and given accommodation in a garden on the outskirts of the city. Krishna’s enemies seethe with anger when they hear of his arrival but the
citizens of Kundinapura flock to see him, saying among themselves that “only Rukmini and no other girl deserves to be his consort”. Everything goes according to their secret plan. Krishna abducts Rukmini outside the shrine of the goddess Ambhika, carrying her off in his chariot and speeding towards Dvaraka. The other kings give chase but they are all stopped by Balarama’s army, with the exception of the impetuous Rukmin who catches up with Krishna’s chariot. In the fierce engagement that follows, Rukmin’s horses are killed, his bow struck down and his sword cut by Krishna into splinters. Just as Krishna is about to kill him, Rukmini kneels and pleads for her brother’s life, which Krishna grants after cutting off his hair and moustache. Meanwhile, Balarama holds off Shishupala who is furious at being denied his bride and deprived of his allies. Finally, Krishna and Rukmini are married in Dvaraka, their nuptials celebrated with great and joyous ceremonies in the presence of all the people of the city. Rukmini becomes the chief queen of Dvaraka and later gives birth to their son, Pradyumna. This is a fine example of early nineteenth century Kangra painting and Jerry Losty has suggested a possible attribution to the Kangra artist Purkhu
and his workshop. The effortless contrapposto of the figures and the exceptional beauty of the elephant, in particular the details of its head, the fine line of the curled trunk and the gnarled, textured ears, hark back to the techniques of the late eighteenth century. The painting has a softness of colour and bold simplicity of composition not seen in many nineteenth century Kangra paintings such as the Harivamsha series of circa 1820 that though extremely accomplished is harder in line, more crystalline in colouring and larger in scale. The Harivamsha is also often attributed to Purkhu and his workshop. Though we have identified the scene of Balarama doing battle as from the Rukmini Haran, because of the lack of inscriptions on the reverse, the possibility that the scene illustrated is from the Bhagavata Purana or Mahabharata cannot be ruled out. Balarama’s other major fight is at the end of the Bhagavata Purana Book XI where he and Krishna destroy all their relatives. Provenance: Jens Peter Haeusgen (1941-2005), Bavaria, Germany, thence by descent to his son Nikolaus Haeusgen, Münich, Germany. Nikolaus Haeusgen inherited the painting from his father who acquired the painting between 1970 and the 1990s. It was listed in his father’s inventory as from the Rukmini Haran. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. Reference: 1. The story of Rukmini’s abduction and marriage to Krishna has been taken from B. N. Goswamy and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Krishna the Divine Lover: Myth and Legend through Indian Art, 1982, pp. 75-76.
52 K A S H M I R S H AW L W E AV E R S India (Lahore), circa 1866 Folio: Height: 30 cm Width: 46.8 cm Image within blue borders: Height: 26.5 cm Width: 43.2 cm
This fine painting depicts several of the final stages of Kashmiri shawl weaving including shawl cleaning and the removal of faults with tweezers. Despite the lack of furnishings, the setting of the workshop is an enfilade of rooms of considerable grandeur and may be part of a palace complex. The main room is lit by pale sunlight from four deep windows with jali screens. The floor is covered with simple rush matting. An inner room is darker with no windows; visibility comes from light spilling over from the main room and a wall lamp to the left. A very dark interior storeroom can be glimpsed through half open doors with lotas (water or storage vessels) on the floor and on a high shelf. We are viewing the shawl weaving processes from the front of an arcade with faceted white marble pillars rising from flanged and splayed bases. The beams in the ceiling enhance the recession into deep space; they continue in the ceiling of the second room. The beams are punctuated by a skylight in the main room that helps the workers see the finely woven shawl they are cleaning.
This painting closely relates to a set of paintings depicting shawl weavers specially commissioned for the Paris Exposition or Universal Exhibition of 1867, and most probably comes from the same set, given the similarities of the architectural setting and the articulation of the figures. Eight of these unique paintings were exhibited in 1988 at Kyburg Limited, 39 Duke Street, St. James’s in London, and this painting must be part of the larger, now dispersed set. The eight paintings for the Paris Exposition are published and illustrated in the Kyburg exhibition catalogue by Veronica Murphy, Kashmir Shawls: Woven Art & Cultural Document: A unique collection of Indian drawings illustrating the production of Kashmir shawls, commissioned for the 1867 Paris Exposition, 1988. According to Toby Falk in his foreword to this catalogue: “Detailed pictures, painted on the scale of these eight, were seldom executed for the British or the French. The popular sets of occupations by Sikh artists often showed weavers of a general kind at work, and sometimes Kashmiri women spinning wool, but never the specific subjects of shawl manufacture. Indeed, had it not been for the Paris exhibition of 1867, the present pictures would not have been commissioned. Few Sikh paintings of this period are signed, and artists’ personal styles are therefore seldom identifiable. For a commission of this importance however, the most reputable artists in Lahore would have been employed.”1 The fourth painting in this Paris set, illustrated on pp. 18 and 19 of the Kyburg catalogue, shows similar processes of shawl cleaning and fault removal with tweezers.2 The room has related pillars and windows with jalis set in deep alcoves and almost identical configuration of figures and their tasks.
In the present painting we see a completed Kashmir shawl (jamawar) with a design of stylised botehs radiating from a central black medallion (matan), the dense polychrome millefleurs on a rich red ground enlivened by delicate white pashmina inserts. The shawl has multi-coloured embroidered fringe-gates on the edges. The ends of the shawl are rolled on cylinders fixed to a framework to keep the surface taut while the shawl cleaners do their work. Murphy notes that shawl cleaners are not to be confused with shawl washers and they have different tasks as shown here.3 From the late eighteenth century on, European observers provided useful information about the organisation of the shawl trade in Kashmir. By far the most detailed and systematic account is that of William Moorcroft, an East India Company veterinarian, who visited Kashmir in 1822.4 Moorcroft’s description of the shawl cleaning process is still valid over forty years later. He writes that it is the purusgar’s business to “free the shawl from discoloured hairs or yarn, and from ends or knots; he either pulls them out with a pair of tweezers, or shaves the reverse face of the cloth with a sharp knife; any defects arising from this operation are immediately repaired by the rafugar.”5 According to Murphy, identical large tweezers are used by a shawl cleaner in a drawing by J. Lockwood Kipling.6 She notes that in the related Paris painting the shawl cleaners hold the steel tweezers in their right hands and in their left hands are bundles of faulty thread removed from the shawls; an identical process can be seen in our painting. Leaning against the wall behind are three more cylinders,
two with jamawars rolled on them. The third has no shawl on it, enabling us to see the groove into which the end of the shawl is tucked so that it does not budge during rolling. The cylinders are fastened to the wooden frame at the
centre of the picture by slotting the pegs into corresponding holes in the rectangular feet of the frame. Moorcroft explains the principle function of the cylinders.7 He tells us that they are double-walled. When shawls are finished, they are folded and carefully rolled on the doublewalled cylinder, dampened to keep them taut and their ends sewn down securely. At each end of the cylinder a wedge is driven in between the inner and outer walls, thus forcing the cylinder to expand in diameter. As the walls are forced part, the shawl is stretched to its maximum.8 After two days, the shawl is ready to be unrolled and packed for dispatch. Moorcroft compares this to the
calendering process in Europe, in which textiles are smoothed and glazed by pressing between heated revolving metal drums.9 To the left of the shawl cleaners are two men vigorously beating damp shawls on a grindstone. On the right are two men treading on damp shawls with their bare feet. One of them holds a pillar to steady himself while the other grasps an iron peg in the wall for stability. The beating and treading on the shawls sprayed with water are part of the felting process which softens the wool. Plain shawls being treated to other steps in the felting process are illustrated in no. 3 in the Kyburg catalogue.10 In the inner room, a woman seated on a low
charpai (day-bed) spins yarn with a wheel, the more mechanised method of spinning by which most shawl yarn was processed.11 The elderly lady on the left may be husking rice, possibly for wool cleaning or warp dressing.12 Similar figures can be seen in the Kyburg picture. A young lady dressed in identical green in both pictures and the child holding on to the lady spinning confirm that these paintings are all variations on a set of master designs ordered for the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and realised by the finest painters of Lahore.
is illustrated in J. P. Losty and Jagdish Mittal, Indian Paintings of the British Period in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, 2016, pp. 50-51, cat. no. 10. References: 1. Veronica Murphy, Kashmir Shawls: Woven Art & Cultural Document, 1988, p. 3. 2. Ibid., pp. 18-19, cat. no. 4. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid., pp. 4 and 18. 5. Ibid., p. 18. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid.
A closely related composition of slightly later date circa 1870-1880 from the Punjab, perhaps Amritsar, now in the Jagdish Mittal Collection,
9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., p. 18 and pp. 16-17, cat. no. 3. 11. Ibid., p. 18. 12. Ibid.
53 E A S T I N D I A C O M PA N Y O F F I C E R India (possibly Madras), 1760-1770 Height: 25.5 cm Width: 19.8 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on card. This striking portrait of an elegant European gentleman depicts a highranking officer of the Honourable East India Company. He is shown in threequarter profile staring confidently at the viewer through large piercing blue eyes under arched, slightly quizzical brows that together convey the sense of a strong personality and a remarkable character. He has a long aquiline nose with delicate nostrils above a small mouth flanked by dimples and a dimpled chin. The structure of his face is defined by fine shading that contours the features. Thus, the expanse of his high forehead is not presented as a flat semi-circle, but the rising dome-shape skilfully conveyed by contouring. The deep eye sockets and the arch of the nose, paler than most of his other features so that it projects forward, are articulated with similar finesse. Great attention has been paid to his eyelashes, which are individually drawn. The gentleman wears a short pale wig in the fashion of the later eighteenth century, with tight curls just covering the ears and the wig tied back or “clubbed” by a black bow. He wears a white linen cravat wrapped around his throat with multiple folds of cloth and an impeccable white linen shirt with ruffles or frills down the front. According to Haydn Williams and Jerry Losty, whose kind comments
on this painting helped us toward establishing a possible identity for the sitter as well as a region in India for the production of the painting and the date of its execution, it is the military cut and decoration of his splendid saffron coat that tell us he is a senior army officer of the East India Company. Williams’s consultation of an expert specialising in the identification of military uniforms has brought to light the following valuable clues. The most interesting aspect is the depiction of the aguilette worn on each shoulder. The aguilette, consisting of braided loops of cord hanging from the shoulder that end in pointed metal tips or lace tags, was gradually replaced by an epualette between circa 1760 and 1768 in the British Army. It appears that the HEIC followed suit but with perhaps a time lag of a year or two. Our man is therefore a British officer from one of the Native Infantry regiments from the late 1760s. A likely possibility would be the 2nd Madras Native Infantry, which had green facings from 1768-1769, and are recorded as having gilt lace, as opposed to the alternative, silver, later in 1805. The distinctive decorations worn on the uniform and likelihood of the regiment being in Madras help us further in establishing the identity of the sitter as well as the location and date of the painting’s production. This painting was first exhibited in 1982 by the London gallery Eyre and Hobhouse Ltd. and published in their catalogue Company Painting: a century of Indian art for European patrons 1770-1870, 1982, cat. no. 4. It was catalogued as Mewar, circa 1790, possibly depicting Bonnie Prince
Charlie, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1710-1788), the grandson of James II and the Stuart claimant to the throne. Though this identification is extremely imaginative, we find it far too optimistic and ultimately unconvincing. Williams observes that given Charles Edward Stuart’s claim to the throne of Great Britain, the Prince liked to be depicted wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, sometimes with the breast star as well, but our man wears neither. The Prince can be seen wearing the sash and the breast star in a 1738 portrait by Louis Gabriel Blanchet at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Secondly, the Prince has brown eyes whereas our sitter has piercing blue eyes; this is something a copyist would not get wrong. Losty notes that if the image is taken from a print, then the colour of the eyes would be immaterial. The so-called 1745 “Lost Portrait” of the Prince by Allan Ramsay now at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, is a miniature portrait roughly the size of a print, made with the intention of mass replication for wide distribution to further the Jacobite cause. If our image was copied from such a print, then the colour of the eyes could not have been indicated. However, the vivid intensity of the blue eyes in our painting, which are such a striking feature, suggests that the artist would have painted the sitter from life or from a painting, rather than copying from a print. Another aspect of the Eyre and Hobhouse description that we must reconsider is the assignment of the painting to the Mewar school
at Udaipur. Though the portrait has some of the same wide-eyed doll-like charm of Mewar depictions of Europeans, Losty notes that the definitive Mewar portraits of firingis all date from the early eighteenth century and there is little evidence that the strain continued beyond the mid century. The Mewar portraits were the result of a visit to Udaipur of the Dutch East India Company trading embassy, led by Johan Josua Ketelaar in 1711-1713, which left a lasting impression on the imagination of Udaipur artists. The Dutch mission travelled from Surat through Rajasthan in the spring of 1711, stopping at Udaipur en route to the Mughal court.1 The firingi portraits continued for fifty years after to depict Dutch fashions of the early eighteenth century with the men sporting heavy full-bottomed baroque wigs under the distinctive headgear that earned Europeans the nickname of topiwala or hat-wearers.2 The Mewar firingi portraits, caught in an early eighteenth-century time-warp, do not depict changes in fashion as they evolved through the century. Thus, Mewar paintings of Europeans do not depict the lighter late eighteenth century wig seen here, or the mid-century British army uniform worn with such dash by our officer. Europeans re-enter the Mewar artist’s imagination only in the first decades of the nineteenth century when the British established their presence there. Further possible schools of painting that we considered, such as Kishangarh on account of the arched eyebrows, were discarded on the grounds of the lack of other stylistic similarities and the unidiomatic subject for the region or period in
question. We have therefore used the evidence of the military coat and its precisely delineated decorations to suggest that the painting may have been made in Madras circa 1760-1770, where British soldiers wearing such army uniforms could be observed at close range. Losty notes an interesting connection between the Madras attribution and an album of forty-two paintings illustrating Indian castes in the Madras Presidency now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Known as the Boileau Album after J. P. Boileau Esquire, who commissioned the album in Madras in 1785, the exuberant paintings are full of wit, invention, humour and fantasy. Several paintings from the set are illustrated in the discussion of the album by Mildred Archer in Company Paintings: Indian Paintings of the British Period, 1992, pp. 36-39, no. 8 (1-42). John Peter Boileau (17471787) came from a Protestant family that had fled from France to England in the previous century.3 He served as a member of the Madras Civil Service from 1765 to 1785 and was Assistant at Bandarmalanka and Masulipatam until 1774. In 1776 he became Senior Merchant and Paymaster at Ishapore and from 1778-1785 served on the Council.4 The album was made for him in 1785, probably as a souvenir to take home to England, where he died in 1787.
the European manner to the eye of the Indian observer. According to Archer, the style of the Boileau Album suggests an artist of Tanjore origin who had presumably settled in Madras and was executing an individual commission. Archer further observes that painting in this early period in Madras appears to have been linked to individual commissions like that of Boileau.5 If our painting is indeed from Madras as we suggest, then it too would have been an individual commission. Provenance: Sven Gahlin Eyre and Hobhouse Ltd., London, 1982 Christie’s, London, 7th October 2011, lot 385 Published: Eyre and Hobhouse Ltd., Company Painting: a century of Indian art for European patrons, 1770-1870, 1982, cat. no. 4. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Haydn Williams and Jerry Losty for their expert advice and kind discussion of this fascinating portrait. We would also like to thank the anonymous military expert for his advice on army uniforms of the eighteenth century. References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, “Ketelaar’s Embassy and the Farangi Theme in the Art of Udaipur”, in Oriental Art, new series vol. xxx, no. 4, winter 1984/85, pp. 350-367. 2. Rosemary Crill, “Visual Responses: Depicting Europeans in South Asia”, in Anna
No. 8(11) is of interest as it depicts a French officer leaning against a table, with his dobashi (translator or interpreter) holding his tricorne hat and a pet dog in the foreground. The French officer wears a similar wig to that in our portrait and stands in a swaggering pose that encapsulates
Jackson and Amin Jaffer (eds.), Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, 2004, p. 192. 3. Mildred Archer assisted by Graham Partlett, Company Paintings: Indian Paintings of the British Period, 1992, p. 36. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.
54 MALABAR TROGON India (Calcutta), dated 1779
breast is very narrow.” It is clear that Latham is referring to this very painting.
By Sheikh Zayn al-Din Height: 53.2 cm Width: 75.3 cm
Pencil, pen and ink, and watercolour with gum Arabic heightened with bodycolour on English paper watermarked, “J Whatman”.
“Forest oleander (?)” Though the word is spelt karibi, it is likely to be karabi, the Bengali name for oleander. Below is the identification of the bird: tatmur(?) ya suda suhagin
Numbered “65” in the upper left corner and stamped with the rectangular seal of Sir Elijah Impey on the reverse, located on the diagonal branch below the claws of the bird. Inscribed in the lower left corner: “In the Collection of Lady Impey/ Painted by (Zayn al-Din)/Native of Patna 1779” Further inscribed above with identifications in Bengali; the uppermost inscription reads: bari-karibi (karabi?)
“Tatmur(?/) or Suda Sohagin”. Suda Sohagin is the Bengali name for the Fasciated Curucui. This painting is mentioned in John Latham, A General History of Birds, Volume III, Winchester, 1822, p. 213. In his discussion of the Fasciated Curucui, Latham writes of his communication with Dr. Francis Buchanan to whom live examples of both sexes were sent for examination. He also writes that Curucui are described from drawings by Mr Middleton and, “This is likewise figured among those of Lady Impey, but in the latter, the band on the
We can identify the Fasciated Curucui in this painting by its modern name Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus). It sits on a branch of an exquisite flowering shrub with turning leaves. Trogons, or “Curucui Birds” as they were sometimes known in the past, are among the most beautiful and striking of all tropical bird families. They have a remarkably wide distribution, being found throughout the tropics: in South and Central America, Africa and Asia, though they are thought to have originated in Africa. This bird is a female; the males are elaborately ornate, with bright red underparts, a rich brown back, black head and bright blue facial skin. Despite their great beauty, trogons are notoriously difficult to spot as they perch motionless for hours at a time in the shady forest interior.
Occasionally they make a sallying foray to grab some choice insect, before returning to their perch again. Although they spend most of their time just sitting, they are barely mobile when perched; their legs are positively tiny and walking is out of the question. This is not a disadvantage for a trogon, however. Sitting still is what they are good at, and it works equally well for evading predators and remaining unseen by prey. Besides, they are superbly manoeuvrable in the air and are very strong flyers. Trogons are unique in the bird world for the unusual structure of their feet. At first glance they appear to have the “two toes backwards, two toes forwards” arrangement of parrots and woodpeckers; but there is a difference. Instead of the outer toe facing backwards to lie parallel with the hind toe, in trogons it is the inner toe that is rotated. Another famous trogon fact is that they have skin “like wet tissue paper”, prone to tearing and shedding feathers, which makes them the most
difficult of all bird families to prepare as museum specimens. They are cursed by taxidermists everywhere and barely any reference to trogons exists in the scientific literature that does not make a passing remark about this. Despite the Bengali inscription naming the plant as an Oleander, the flowering shrub is in fact the Melastoma malabathricum, a widespread South and Southeast Asian species. According to E. G. Balfour’s Cyclopaedia of India, 1857,
it is “one of the Black-Dye Plants of Asia “, with edible fruit, and in Bengal “cultivated as a garden flower”. The longitudinally veined leaves and curiously curved anthers or stamens reminiscent of spiders’ legs are distinctive features of the Melastomataceae family.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her identification of the bird and kind preparation of the notes for this catalogue description; Henry Noltie for his identification of the plant; and Will Kwiatkowski for his reading of the inscriptions as well as his discovery of the painting’s mention by Latham.
Provenance: Sir Elijah and Lady Impey The Linnean Society since 1855 which sold the painting at Sotheby’s, London, 10th June, 1963, lot 44. The Anthony Hobson Collection
55 MALABAR GIANT SQUIRREL India (Vizagapatam), dated 1885 By H. S. Elton an English artist working in India
Height: 25.4 cm Width: 35.4 cm
Watercolour on English paper. Signed to the lower right corner with the artist’s initials H. S. E. and dated 1885. Inscribed by the artist in the lower left corner with “½ life size”, thus conveying the large scale of the animal. Inscribed in pencil on the reverse: Malabar Squirrel ½ size H S Elton Vizagapatam 1885 The Indian giant squirrel, or Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is a tree squirrel species in the genus Ratufa native to India. It is a largebodied diurnal, arboreal, and mainly herbivorous, sometimes omnivorous, squirrel found in South Asia. As with other diurnal animals, the squirrel is active during the day as opposed to nocturnal animals who are most active during the night. Though diurnal, the giant squirrel has a pattern of concentrated activity in the morning and in the evening, resting in the midday.1 Ratufa indica dwells in the uppercanopy of tall, profusely branched trees where it builds its nests on thin branches that larger, heavier and less agile predators cannot reach as these would snap under their weight or prove difficult to negotiate. The giant squirrel has evolved techniques of arboreal locomotion, the movement of animals in trees. The species is endemic to the deciduous, mixed
deciduous and moist evergreen forests of peninsular India. Its range, at elevations from 180 to 2,300 metres above sea level, is wide and stretches across the states of Andra Pradhesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, reaching as far north as the Satpura hill range of Madhya Pradesh. The giant squirrel is the state animal of Maharashtra where it is called shekru in the native Marathi language. Though the geographical area of habitation may seem vast, the occupation is confined to isolated hill and mountain ranges that are widely separated from each other, thus producing conditions favourable for speciation. According to a study by Moore and Tate concluded in 1965, there are four subspecies of the Indian giant squirrel with distinct colour schemes. The debate continues as to whether these colour variations in subspecies make them unique species rather than just sub-groups. In general, Ratufa indica has a conspicuous two-toned and sometimes three-toned colour scheme as seen in this painting. The underparts and front legs are usually cream in colour and the head brown or beige, with a distinctive white spot between the ears that the painter has accurately observed. The main colours on the body and back range from buff, tan, rust, brown to dark seal brown. The tail, which is much longer than the body and used for balance on the high branches, is a dark colour, in the present instance almost black with a small light grey tip. Wildlife photographs show that the tip is frequently paler in colour and often constitutes a greater proportion of the tail than seen in our painting. The head and body lengths together average 10-18 inches (25-45
cm) while the tail measures around 2 feet or 60 cm. The giant squirrel rarely leaves the tree canopies and travels from tree to tree with impressive long jumps of up to six metres (20 feet); its powerful hind legs provide the animal with super agility. It can also feed while hanging from a branch with just the claws of the hind legs, but the characteristic manner is to stand on the hind legs and use the hands to handle the food as depicted here by Elton. It feeds on fruits, flowers, nuts and bark, though some omnivorous subspecies also eat insects and birds’ eggs. Our squirrel appears to be nibbling on a nut with evident relish, chomping with full rounded cheeks, and enjoying the smell of its food with its long-whiskered nose. The species plays a substantial role in shaping the ecosystem of its habitat by engaging in seed dispersion. Giant squirrels are typically shy, solitary creatures that come together only for breeding, though pairs of mating squirrels have been observed living together. During the mating season from October to January, males compete for mating rights with one female. The victor wins the right of initial copulation and prevents his competition from engaging with the female for at least a few hours after, to increase his own chances of paternity, though the subordinate male also gets to copulate later. A litter of a single pup is born after a gestation period of 21-25 days. The squirrels construct several globular nests of leaves and twigs across their small area of forest territory as sleeping quarters and take refuge in any one of these nests depending on proximity, like different rooms in an apartment. They do not like to share their nests with the offspring; instead they house the kids in a separate nest that functions as the family nursery.
Despite being very shy and cautious, and on constant guard for potential trouble, the giant squirrel is a loud species with staccato territorial calls that go on for several minutes before tapering into softer chirps. The most common vocalisation is the alarm call at the first sign of danger, while other sounds include mating calls, communication between a mother and her young, and calls of appeasement. Danger comes in the form of the squirrel’s main predators which include various birds of prey like eagles and owls as well as apex predators like the Indian leopard. When threatened, the giant squirrel freezes instead of fleeing, pressing itself flat against the tree trunk. Little is known about the talented watercolourist H. S. Elton who appears to have worked in Southern Indian and Burma in the late nineteenth century. Elton specialised in landscapes of the region with sweeping vistas receding into the far horizon, rendered with soft atmospheric effects under a pale sky, and a subtle ever shifting colour palette as seen in the range of greens, greys, browns and blues used to convey the distant hills in the backdrop to the squirrel. Though depicting the heat and colour of India and Burma, the cool, gentle quality of the light gives the works a most English feel. Works that have appeared at auction dating from the same period as our giant squirrel include “Jeninesse at Conaon, South India” dated 1881, “The Wellington Barracks, South India” dated 1888, and “On the Stang River, Burma” dated 1886. Reference: 1. Our notes on Ratufa indica have been compiled from https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Indian_giant_squirrel; https://alchetron. com › Indian-giant-squirrel; and alchetron.net.
56 MANDALA CHANDAR India (Kashmir), circa 1840 Length: 198 cm Width: 185 cm
A fine and highly unusual tantric moon shawl (chandar) with a mandala to the centre from which radiate zoomorphic tendrils, filled with multi-coloured millefleurs on a pink ground. The tendrils form four cusped palmettes that meet in the central mandala, and spread outwards into large symmetrical rosettes, possibly highly stylised lotus flowers (symbolically with eight petals), each with three other identical palmettes at each corner. Each of the lotus rosettes occupies a quarter of the shawl, with the complex, overlapping leaves, flowers and tendrils forming a square to the centre. Interspersed with the palmettes are smaller palmettes with horn-like tendrils that grow from their point. Within these large lotus rosettes are patterns of floral sprays, bent-tipped botehs, tendrils and millefleurs that penetrate the central square, all in various shades of red, pink and orange. Again
symmetrical, they differ only in their base colourings. Reflecting the central mandala to the centre of the shawl are semicircular half mandalas to the centre of each side of the shawl and quarter mandalas to each corner. Together with central mandala and the four squares within each lotus rosette, the shawl generates a feeling of radiant, mystical power. Framing the central design are thin hashia strips composed of floral meanders. The hashia strips are green to the top and bottom of the shawl, and red to the sides. The mandala is an English version of a Sanskrit word meaning circle, with connotations of centre and arch. It is a symbol of man or woman in the world, and is often illustrated by an imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation. Here, the circles of enlightenment are surrounded possibly by lotus flowers, which symbolise the open state of devotion needed to enter the palace. The enigmatic forms of this shawl bring to mind both the Mahayana Buddhist thangkas of Tibet and the mystical paintings of the Jains.
99 THE TITLE OF EACH PIECE India, North India 1000-1001 Height: 00 cm Width: 00 cm Depth: 00 cm
Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! ththththththth thththht hthth hth hth hhth hth hth hth References: 1. the reference notes go here and herer and also here and maybe a bit over there s well.
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