Elephant-head bangle

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Enamel, diamond, ruby, amethyst, gemstones, and pearls
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
3/4 × 3 3/8 × 3 1/2 in. (1.91 × 8.57 × 8.89 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Alta Brenner in memory of her daughter Andrea Bernice Brenner-McMullen
OBJECT NUMBER:
1994.42.2

General Description

Enameled gold jewelry was popular from at least the 16th century onward in north India, and the best-known center of production is Jaipur in the modern state of Rajasthan. However, enameled jewelry is also made elsewhere, and Varanasi, famous for its pink enameled hues, is another important source. Enameled gold jewelry was manufactured by a team of workmen that included a designer, a goldsmith, an engraver, an enameler, a polisher, a stone setter, and in some cases a stringer. The pink enameling on the bracelets with elephant heads, symbols of auspiciousness, makes Varanasi in eastern India their probable place of origin.

These bracelets are almost surely intended for use by a female. In India, jewelry such as bracelets are always worn as pairs and never as a single piece as might be done in the West. As with all jewelry items, they were emblems of the wearer's wealth.

Adapted from

Catherine Asher, "Pair of elephant-headed bangles," in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 142.