Rare Indian jewelry, dagger, etc of south India (Tamil nadu) origin sold by auction house Bonhams, London!!

The items mentioned here were taken from India to England during the colonial period

A 19th century ruby and diamond “Manga Malai” necklace of south India:

gem studded Mang malai of South India origin.bonhams 

On 19 April 2016 a few interesting 19th Indian jewelry came up for auction at Bonhams, Lond.  For the elites of the European society- rich and famous  it was a rare occasion because such amazing Indian jewelry pieces known for beauty and intricate workmanship seldom would come up for grabs at an auction house.  

The famous auction house  offered  jewelry that once belonged to an Indian royal family as part of its Islamic and Indian Art sale. The auction house, as usual, made wide publicity long before the schedule auction to get the attention of indian jewelry lovers and  collectors. 

The highlight of the auction was a rare piece, presumably made in South india. It was  gold “Manga Malai” necklace (the gem encrusted golden pieces are in the shape of a mango) worn by women in southern India for special occasions, particularly from the rich Nattukottai Chettiar families or any south Indian royals or zamindar families.  In Tamil language ''Manga'' means mango and ''Malai'' means garland or in his case necklace. Though old-fashioned some south Indian women do wear Manga-Malai necklace According to  Bonhams the family, now residing in England,  that owned the jewel, wanted to maintain their unanimity. The family had kept the 19 CE jewel  for generations.(Bonhams  auction 8April, 2016)  

The necklace is composed of linked mango-shaped elements and is encrusted with diamonds and rubies, Hand made, it requires special skills to link each mango-shaped   gem-studded golden pieces. The links have to  be strong and durable. So are the cut stones that have to be embedded to last for a longtime. For the gold smiths of those days with simple tools, it was a time-consuming process.  In south Indian households Mango symbolizes love, fertility and family welfare. The auction house finally sold it for $ 47000 far below the expected offer. 


A fine and large gem-set gold rudraksha bead necklace (gowrishankaram) of south India origin:

S.India gold rudraksha bead necklacebonhams.com

Above image: 19th century CE large gem-set gold rudraksha bead necklace  of tamil Nadu origin.  It has  a large ruby-set gold pendant decorated in openwork with copper backing, with a central depiction of Shiva Nataraja flanked by figures including Parvati and celestial musicians. The pendant surmounted by three finials set with pearls and green paste; a gold amulet box suspended below, decorated in repouss√© with lingam motifs  set with rubies and surmounted by a central diamond, with three terminals in the form of temple spire, The pendant is suspended on a necklace of rudraksha beads alternating with gold spacers, the ruby-set gold clasp decorated in openwork with copper backing, with a central depiction of Subrahmanya atop a peacock, flanked by consorts, inscriptions to reverse, gold tested as 21-22 carat. (Bonhams auction, London 8 June 2022) 


A monumental gem-set silver ceremonial necklace of Tamil Nadu origin:

TN origin gem-set silver ceremonial necklace, Bonham.com 

Above image: Monumental 19th century CE gem-set silver ceremonial necklace of Tamil nadu origin:  It has twenty nine silver elements, each with a  form surmounted by long conical finials terminating in small spheres, the larger spherical elements ornamented with granular and pyramid motifs and set with circular gem-stones, all on a black cotton string, mounted223.5 cm. total length, each element 16 cm. long; 4262 g. Often associated with divinity, this unique  necklace  could have been made for a large sculpture of Nandi,( bull) God Shiva's mount or vahana.   

(Bonhams auction, London 8 June 2022)


A fine  copper-hilted steel dagger (bichuwa) of Tanjore,Tamil Nadu

Copper hilted dagger - bitchuva. bonhams.com

Above image: A 16-17th century CE fine south Indian copper-hilted steel dagger (bichuwa) of Tanjore (now in Tamil nadu: The double-edged  curved steel blade  with raised central spine and widening towards the point. The copper hilt with thin grip overlaid with rosette to the centre, the handguard in the form of a two-headed bird, the feathered tails and serpentine necks intertwined, the makara heads clutching elephants, palmettes at the forte, the pommel in the form of a crown with bud finial;31.5 cm. long. It incorporates the gandabherunda, a legendary bird in Hindu mythology. It could be from the Vijayanagara empire or from the dynasty of Mysore Wodeyars. (Bonham auction, London 8 June 2022)


A 1840 drawing of The interior of the palace at Madura,Tamil Nadu: 

Madurai palace circa 1840. bonhams.com

 Above image: Madura palace, now in Tamil Nadu. a 1840 CE drawing of Thirumalai Nayakar Maha l-  with the District Collector conducting business. Pencil and watercolour on paper, inscribed (formerly in lower border, now affixed to backboard) The Durbar, in the ruined palace of the Rajahs of Madura (Drawn by a native).

286 x 415 mm; (Bonhams auction, London 8 June 2022) .