Description: Central Asia, Tibet, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A conch shell overlaid with thick silver that wraps almost fully around the body. A mouthpiece at the top of the shell allows it to become an instrument when blown into - and it is loud! The body is inlaid with red coral and bright turquoise stones near the mouthpiece and the bottom. The rest is decorated with relief joyous animals in a spiraling register that mirrors the shape of the shell: birds, fish, rodents, felines, canines, oxen, a horse, a fox, a musk ox, and many forms of deer, all prancing and dancing around the body. A silver ring hangs from the bottom. Size: 8" L x 4.4" W x 3.5" H (20.3 cm x 11.2 cm x 8.9 cm)
This item is known as a shankha, a conch shell of religious and ritual importance in Tibetan Buddhism, and in Hinduism. The sound it makes when blown symbolizes the sacred "om," and it is one of the eight auspicious symbols, called Ashtamangala.
Provenance: private Salter collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
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Condition Report: One of the turquoise stones is cracked. Patina on surface of both silver and shell.
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