Lot 55
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The square-shaped gold ring bears an inverse inscription in Sanskrit. The shoulders have raised and curved gold motifs with a thick shank.

Gross weight: 33.31 grams

Ring size: American 4 3/4, English J

Temple jewellery, as the name implies, originated from the practice of adorning idols of gods and goddesses in temples. It was at a peak during the reign of the Pallavas (circa 600 - 850 AD) and the Cholas (circa 850 - 1150 AD), who amassed huge amounts of wealth and lavished the temples they built with ornaments made of gold and precious stones. This practice continued into the 20th century, when writer Oppi Untracht, who travelled extensively across India, observed that, "Founders of and donors to a Hindu temple customarily also presented ornaments for use in the decoration of installed deity images. Fixed and movable processional images were provided with sets of jewelry for all body parts. Gifts like these are recorded in epigraphic inscriptions at famous temples in Chidambaram, Kanchipuram, Madurai, Srirangam, Thanjavur, Thiruvanamalai, and others... All donated jewelry is loosely included in the category of temple jewelry. Strictly speaking, however, only the jewelry commissioned specifically for use on a deity image can properly be so designated... From the priest's point of view, temple jewelry embodies a religious theatricality that is designed to give the devotee a dazzling impression of a deity's otherworldly grandeur." (Oppi Untracht, Traditional Jewelry of India, London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1997, pp. 193, 195)

Over time, temple jewellery came to refer to the traditional, classic jewellery worn by Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancers at temples. Soon, anyone who was willing to pay a premium to have such jewellery customised for their needs came to possess pieces which were singular in quality. Made only by the most skilled craftsmen following a meticulous process, temple jewellery displays exemplary craftsmanship and finesse. Tailored to the needs of the client, it could take anywhere between a few months to a year to finish working on a piece, depending on how elaborately crafted it is and how many pieces are made for a customer. Emeralds, pearls, rubies, diamonds and other precious stones set in gold are popular choices for such jewellery.

Temple jewellery is identified through motifs that borrow from both religion and nature. Earrings, necklaces such as the manga malai, hair, hip and feet ornaments, pendants bearing figures of gods from the Hindu pantheon and mythical beings such as the gandaberunda and keertimukha, are typical.

  Lot 55 of 80  

27-28 JULY 2016


Gold ring


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