Lot 43: 18th C. Indian Bronze Kumkum Box - Bird Motifs

Artemis Gallery

July 20, 2017
Louisville, CO, US

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Description: Central Asia, India, ca. 18th century CE. An early example, a delightful box of cast bronze with an avian theme, consisting of multiple components. The piece stands on five legs shaped like birds with their wings spread. Between each leg is a rounded compartment topped by a flying bird with a crested head, a long tail, and spread wings. Each of these opens from an offset hinge, and each lid has a tab that extends into the round middle of the piece. This middle has a perforation drilled through it to place a locking mechanism. The mechanism is in the form of a standing peacock with its tail fanned open wide. A metal pin extends below its body and slots into the perforation, covering each of the tabs from the compartment lids and forming a lock. Size: 4.4" W x 3.3" H (11.2 cm x 8.4 cm)

The peacock is the national bird of India, and has appeared in Indian art since the Indus Valley Civilization three thousand years ago! It is a symbol of many of the Hindu gods and represents immortality. The box, known as a kumkum or tikka box, was made to hold the powdered colors, some made of turmeric, worn on the forehead in Hindu religious ceremonies.

Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection acquired before 2000

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Condition Report: Smooth, dark patina covers entire surface. "Lock" (described above) and hinges are all still functional.
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