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Box
Place of Origin: India or Pakistan, Gujarat state or Sindh province
Date: approx. 1660-1700
Materials: Sandalwood, ivory, tortoiseshell, velvet
Dimensions: H. 12 in x W. 15 1/2 in x D. 11 in, H. 30.5 cm x W. 39.4 cm x D. 27.9 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Decorative Arts
Object Number: 1998.61
On Display: Yes
Location: Tateuchi Thematic Gallery
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

This box, made of fragrant sandalwood and inlaid with tortoiseshell and ivory, would have been a luxury item at the Punjab courts. It is reported to have belonged to Ranjit Singh himself. After the Maharaja’s death, the box was acquired by the governor-general, the highest British official of the East India Company, which oversaw trade and administrative control of India.

Ranjit Singh’s court at Lahore, in presentday Pakistan, possessed extraordinary wealth and commissioned the finest of luxury goods. The court was particularly renowned for its jewels and jewelry, often described by British observers as unprecedented in their splendor, which might have been stored in elegant vessels such as this one. The geometric and vegetal designs on this box and its fine workmanship are representative of seventeenth-century decorative work from the adjacent areas of Gujarat and Sindh, in western India and Pakistan. The patterned designs, fine line work, and palette are details shared by contemporary paintings produced for the Sikh courts, seen in these galleries.


More Information

Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts", Asian Art Museum (10/21/2011-4/8/2012), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (5/19/2012-8/19/2012)

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Label:

This box, made of fragrant sandalwood and inlaid with tortoiseshell and ivory, would have been a luxury item at the Punjab courts. It is reported to have belonged to Ranjit Singh himself. After the Maharaja’s death, the box was acquired by the governor-general, the highest British official of the East India Company, which oversaw trade and administrative control of India.

Ranjit Singh’s court at Lahore, in presentday Pakistan, possessed extraordinary wealth and commissioned the finest of luxury goods. The court was particularly renowned for its jewels and jewelry, often described by British observers as unprecedented in their splendor, which might have been stored in elegant vessels such as this one. The geometric and vegetal designs on this box and its fine workmanship are representative of seventeenth-century decorative work from the adjacent areas of Gujarat and Sindh, in western India and Pakistan. The patterned designs, fine line work, and palette are details shared by contemporary paintings produced for the Sikh courts, seen in these galleries.


Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts", Asian Art Museum (10/21/2011-4/8/2012), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (5/19/2012-8/19/2012)

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017