Lot 302. A diamond, ruby and emerald-set gold Manga Malai necklace, Tamil Nadu, 19th century. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 GBP. Lot sold 84,100 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
gold set with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, composed of linked mango-shaped elements supporting a central openwork plaque formed of scrolling foliate tendrils around a central floral rosette, fringed with gold beads, clasp in the form of two addorsed peacocks; 31cm. length.
Note: This manga ‘mango’ malai ‘garland’ is unique to South India and was traditionally worn for special occasions such as weddings and by Bharatha Natyam dancers during performances. The mango is a popular fruit in India where it is regarded as a symbol of love and fertility. The necklace demonstrates the South Indian preference for cabochon rubies. The gems are set using the kundala-velai technique which relates to the north Indian kundan tradition of using a lac-filled sheet of gold to secure the gem. The form of this necklace has its origins in the Chola period and earlier, with bronze and stone sculptures displaying strands of gem-encrusted necklaces of similar design. This necklace compares closely to an example in the David Collection, Copenhagen (Untracht 1997, p.234, no.494). Like the necklace in the David Collection the current lot is composed of series of mango-shaped units held in place by the use of two thattaiyana ponnulla saradu (flatknitted gold wire chains) that pass through loops at the back. Other examples are found in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, the Khalili Collection, London (Moscow 2014, nos.18 & 19) and the Hapsburg Collection, Geneva, (Sotheby’s 1987, no.41).
Sotheby’s. Art of Imperial India, Londres, 08 oct. 2014