India boasts an unbroken tradition in the decorative arts that can be traced back at least five thousand years. A notable spurt in the traditional jewelled arts of India took place in the late nineteenth century, a period that witnessed a marriage between the traditional craft knowledge of the Subcontinent and European fashions and taste of the time.
The present hasli or torque necklace was decorated in the Kundan technique by which precious stones were set into hyper-purified gold that was refined into strips of malleable foil which develops an adhesive quality at room temperature. Diamonds and rubies were then placed directly into this setting, on a polished gold or silver foil to highlight the gemstone’s reflection and colour. This rich design is enhanced with a bright and colourful enamel layer (mina) and further adorned with hanging emeralds and pearls. The quality of execution on the present torque is exceptional and points to a noble or royal patronage.
This type of necklace derives its name from the Hindi word ‘hansuli’ (collar-bone), and as indicated, rests on the collarbone of the wearer. It is a quintessentially Rajasthani ornament, though beautiful silver torques were worn in other areas across the Indian subcontinent. An attribution to Bikaner is further confirmed by the strongly Mughal-influenced design of the necklace and the predominant use of green with a metallic sheen on its surface.
For further examples of such haslis, see M. Latif, M, Bijoux Moghols, exhibition catalogue, Société Générale de Banque, Brussels, 1982, p.171, nos. 38 and 39.