An Indian shamshir sword from the 19th century
This Indian sword, or shamshir, dates from the early 1800s and is available from Peter Finer after being in private collections in Denmark and Great Britain. The remarkably decorated hilt features three macaroon-mythological sea creatures, which may consist of elements from the crocodile, elephant, wild boar, fish and peacock, which often appear in Hindu and Buddhist temple iconography like vahana or vehicles like the goddesses of the Ganges and Narmada rivers, and the sea god Varuna, ride.
The hilt is cast in silver and plated with gold. The eyes of each of the five animals on it are inlaid with rubies, as are the ears of the smaller macaroons and lions. The macaroons each have a blood-red glass tongue that is hinged to move up and down between sharp gold teeth.
The blade of the 3.04 cm long sword is made of steel, watered in the characteristic ‘forty steps’ or kirk narduban pattern; it has two cartons inlaid with nasta’liq inscriptions in gold, the first translation as ‘made by Asad Allah ‘, the other’ Abbas, slave of the King of holiness’.
The inscription of the machine refers to the most famous Persian swordsman in the 17th century, ‘Asad Allah of Isfahan, after which many Persian magazines were inscribed to suggest that their quality was equivalent to the master’s blades. A comparable but later makara hilt in blue steel is in the armor chamber of Rathores near Jodhpur. It has a similar leaf with the same inscription.
MARCEL NIES ORIENTAL ART
A bronze Parvati from the 11th century
Marcel Nie’s Oriental Art in Antwerp, Belgium, exhibits this bronze depicting Parvati, who was a Shiva consort and is considered the most important female deity in Hinduism.
This 63 cm high sculpture shows her holding a blue lily (nilotpala) in her right hand with fine details. Parvati’s posture is dynamic from all angles, her left arm is half-bent with her hand pointing downwards — a position called lolahasta in Sanskrit. The stylistic features lead to an attribution to the Chola school from the beginning of the 11th century.
The artist used the method of lost wax and cast the figure solidly in one piece.
Parvati stands on a separately cast lotus pedestal on a square bottom. The four rings attached to the base were used for metal rods and indicate that the sculpture was carried in procession. The devoted use of the temple sculpture and ritual washes have created an attractive natural patina.
The sculpture has been in the Jerry Rodolitz collection in Thailand and the United States and in the Laurent Solomon collection in Singapore.
It can be seen at Dover Street 27 in London’s Mayfair district from October 28 to November 6.
A great contemporary oil on canvas
Grosvenor Gallery offers Tiger of Sri Lanka’s Senaka Senanayake (b. 1951).
The 1.23 x 1.83 m large oil on canvas was painted in 2021 and is among the artist’s works that draw attention to the depletion of his country’s rainforests not by showing destruction, but by celebrating the positive. The depth of the flora’s colors – a compound above all local – is achieved through layer upon layer of paint applied over two to three weeks.
For more on this artist, see our separate preview.
Six portraits of Ottoman sultans, Venetian school c.1600.
Christie’s Art of the Islamic & Indian Worlds sale on October 28 features this series of six portraits of Ottoman sultans from about 1600.
Derived from an original set of 14 produced in Venice at the instigation of Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha (1506-79) in 1579, the subjects cover 250 years in the Osman House, from Sultan Orhan (1281-1362) to Selim II (1524-74). An entire set is the property of the Wittelsbach family and is currently on display in Würzburg. Other sets are in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul.
The original Venetian set depicting the Osman House is believed to have been created under the guidance of Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese, who served as Serenissima’s official painter. These portraits are probably close copies, as they exemplify some of the main characteristics of Veronese’s style: the three-dimensional bust format, the treatment of the textiles, and the characterization of the subjects that distinguish these paintings from other Ottoman imperial portraits.
The set, with an estimate of £ 800,000-1.2 million, can be traced back to the collection of Count Gustav Adelmann von Adelmannsfelden (1858-1938), and was kept at the castle Berg in Bavaria, until 1935.
A pair of Mughal glasses with emerald glasses in diamond-mounted frames
After touring in New York and Hong Kong, two extraordinary pairs of Mughal jewelery will go on sale at Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World & India sale on October 27. The previously unobtrusive glasses have hope 1.5 million to 2.5 million each from ‘an unknown princely treasury’ where they have been since the 1970s.
“These extraordinary curiosities bring countless threads – from the pearl cutter’s technical mastery and craft genius to the vision of a patron saint who chose to make two pairs of glasses completely unlike anything ever seen before,” said Edward Gibbs, president of Sotheby’s Middle East and India.
“They are undoubtedly a marvel to both gemologists and historians, and it is a real thrill to be able to bring these treasures to light and offer the world the opportunity to marvel at their brilliance and the mystery behind their creation.”
The lenses in the glasses date from the 17th century, when they were cut for a spectacularly wealthy protector by a flawless Golconda diamond weighing over 200 carats (Halo of Light) and an emerald weighing at least 300 carats (Gate of Paradise). These filters were considered aids to spiritual enlightenment – with diamonds believed to shine and emeralds believed to have had miraculous powers to heal and ward off evil.
Around 1890, the lenses were placed in new frames, decorated with rosecut diamonds. The glasses with emerald lenses, shown here, are the ones selected for the price list.
A steel shaffron from the 16th century
This engraved steel -shaffron – a defense of the head – comes from 16th-century Ottoman Turkey or Anatolia.
It was formed from a single piece of steel and comes with flat, plain cheekbones attached to the sides with short chain mail connections. The cartouche at the top is cut with the basmala bi-smi llāhi r-ramāni r-raīmi (In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful), a phrase mainly used when starting good deeds. The inscription is arranged on four overlapping horizontal levels and opposite rolling vegetal spirals, reminiscent of the decoration of early 16th century Iznik goods.
The item is accompanied by an invoice from 1980, certifying that the shaffron was once part of Wladimir Rosenbaum’s collection of antiques, which he sold at his gallery in Ascona, Galleria Serodine. From 1980-94 it was in a private collection in Belgium, and since then it has been in another private collection in Germany.
Similar shaffrons can be found in other collections, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The shortlisted example here is estimated at 4000-6000 kr in the sale of Islamic and Indian art at Chiswick Auctions on 29 October.