About this object

An elaborately decorated damascened soup jar, 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. 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 hinged lid is finished with a gold lotus pinned to the main fabric of the lid. There are two sets of handles, a pair of square lug handled sit above, what appear to be the original looped handles. To this is attached a leather strap.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Kham: Derge
  • Date made
    13th Century
  • Materials
    Leather Skin; Iron; Silver; Gold
  • 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
  • Date collected
    1915-09-28 - 1915-09-30
  • Measurements
    260 mm x 190 mm x 180 mm; 10 1/4 in x 7 1/2 in x 7 1/16 in
  • Note
    List of Curios No 273: An iron damascene soup jar. Silver beaten into the iron and partly gilt. Palhese estimates its age as 500 to 600 years. Probably made in or near Derge. Presented to me by Tsarong Shape on behalf of the Tibetan Government in September 1915. 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 was given to Bell during his annual inspection tour of southern Tibet along with a 15th century pen case from Derge which is now in the British Museum (1933,0508.34). Tsarong had come to meet Bell to discuss the sale of arms and ammunition to Tibet. Lönchen Shatra (Tibet's Prime Minister) had written to Bell prior to the meeting to discuss Tibetan defences and communications, which Bell was keen to support. Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    Charles Alfred Bell ( Collector); Palhese ( described by); Dasang Damdul Tsarong ( gifted by)

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.

Object view = Humanities
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