179
179
A rare carved ivory box with gilt mounts, Sri Lanka, probably Kandy, 16th/17th century
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179
A rare carved ivory box with gilt mounts, Sri Lanka, probably Kandy, 16th/17th century
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Arts of the Islamic World

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A rare carved ivory box with gilt mounts, Sri Lanka, probably Kandy, 16th/17th century
the body intricately carved with mythical creatures and entities amidst dense foliate scrolls, with carved silver-gilt mounts for hinged domed lid, the other mount opening to reveal a gilt-metal interior, finial set with ruby or spinel 
13cm. height
9.5cm. max. diam. 
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Provenance

Ex-collection Commander Sir Robert Micklem CBE (1891-1952), naval officer and submariner.
Thence by descent.

Catalogue Note

This intricately carved dome-shaped ivory box owes its design to multiple influences. Of indigenous Sinhalese form, the foliate vines with composite blossoms are derived from Dutch herbals that would have circulated via the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for the Sinhalese craftsman to copy. The present example closely relates to two sixteenth/seventeenth century Sinhalese carved ivory boxes with silver mounts; one in the Victoria & Albert Museum (inv. no.13-1896) and the other in the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin (inv. no.Nr. MIK I 384). The dense carving, carried out on a single piece of ivory for the lid and another for the body, is infused with motifs typically characteristic of Kandy. Mythological inhabit the foliage. Sirens (possibly kinnaras, creatures with the upper body of a woman and lower body of a bird with a long tail said to live in the Himalayan peaks) and vidalas (mythical creatures formed as part lion/part griffin) emerge out of the lush vegetation (Jaffer 2002, p.53, no.19). Whereas the present example comes from an old English family provenance, the box in the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin was first recorded in the Kurfürstliche Kunstkammer zu Brandenburg in 1694, demonstrating how long such pieces were appreciated by European patrons. Further comparable pieces are in the Archaeology Museum, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and at Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran (see Jaffer 2002, p.53, no.19). A related example, composed of tortoiseshell, was sold in these rooms 11 October 2006, lot 194.

Arts of the Islamic World

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London