About this object

An elaborately decorated damascened beer jug, probably used for ceremonial occasions and passed down through generations. The cylindrical body is divided into two registers (with four panels in each), with fine silver wire inlaid to create a swirling vine pattern; at the centre of each is one of the Eight Buddhist Emblems, picked out in gold. Each panel is bordered with a pattern of linked circles, again in silver. Raised bands of iron encircle the body at the bottom, centre and rim of the jug, each filled with bands of the same pattern of half-linked circles but here damascened in gold. Eight hour glass-shaped panels divide the two registers vertically, each filled with relief scrolling foliage around the Eight Buddhist Emblems damascened in gold. The spout and handle are secured with brass pins.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Kham: Derge
  • Date made
    13th - 14th Century
  • Materials
    Iron; Gilt Silver; Gilt Metal; Brass
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü-Tsang: Gyantse: Drongtse
  • Date collected
    5th July 1913
  • Measurements
    314 mm x 310 mm x 172 mm; 12 3/8 in x 12 3/16 in x 6 3/4 in
  • Note
    List of Curios No 248:
    Beer jug of Damascene work, 12 1/2" high and 22" round the base. Shape cylindrical. Silver and gilt work on iron base. Made in Derge. Palhese says it is very old and that Tibetans cannot do such good work in Tibet nowadays. From Bang-gye-shar. Price Rs 150/-. There are very few in Tibet nowadays; used for giving beer at entertainments by gentry and the well-to-do. Called ja khra

    Curator's note: Valrae Reynolds records in the catalogue, 'From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from The Newark Museum' that, 'The decorative patterns of swirling vine and linked circles were popular on textiles, ceramics and metalwork during the Mongol period, thirteenth century, and it is possible that this jug dates from that time of Mongol-Tibetan interaction.' See The Newark Museum's Tsampa container (1988 88.698) for identical decoration and design.

    This is one of a large group of items bought from Palhese between 5 - 10 July 1913. Bell was on an inspection tour of the Gyantse area and stopped at Dontse for five day. Dontse being the home of the Palha family. A substantial number of these items came from the Palha residence in Lhasa, Bangyeshar House. The house had been badly damaged during the Tibetan - Chinese War of 1910-11, although it was rebuilt and again functioning as a home by the time of Bell's visit in 1920-21. Bell remarks on the Derge beer jugs, in 'The People of Tibet' pg 242, 'Some of the Tibetan beer jugs are very handsome. The best come from Der-ge. They are of damascene work, silver and gilt on an iron base; their shape flat or cylindrical. These are used for giving beer at entertainments, and for offerings in the temples on behalf of those who sufer agonies from starvation in one of the hells. Others are used for picnics and pon journeys. Some of the types are rare and highly prized, being of fine craftsmanship that cannot be equalled now’.

    Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    Charles Alfred Bell (Collector); Palhese (bought from)

Where is this object from?

Explore related


  • List of Curios

    Bell, Charles Alfred

    Author: Bell, Charles Alfred
    Description: A typed object catalogue from Bell's handwritten notes on a wide variety of objects from his personal collection. This information often contains, the date he obtained an object, its provenance (including where and who he acquired from) and the person responsible for giving him the information. The process of writing the inventory began in December 1912 and continued until the late 1930s.

  • Tibet: Catalogue of Exhibits

    Tankard, Elaine

    Author: Tankard, Elaine
    Publisher: Liverpool Public Museums
    Date: 1953-03
    Description: Introductory essay and catalogue entries, in themes, for the 1953 exhibition; 'Tibet', held at the Walker Art Gallery.

Object view = Humanities
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