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Silver, Filigree & Turquoise Woman’s Belt Ornament (Ghanjen or Gyenzen)
Tibet
19th century

width: 47cm, length: 28c,, length of attached double chain: 58cm, total weight: 653g

This T-shaped belt ornament was worn by aristocratic women in Lhasa at waist level. Such ornaments were worn on important public occasions.

It comprises three heavy straps, each of six cords of woven silver wire decorated with silver plaques overlaid with fine silver filigree and set with turquoise
cabochons.

The straps or arms radiate from a central, cast
dharma medallion set with turquoise. The two horizontal arms terminate with solid cast silver hooks. The lower
arm terminates with another round
dharma medallion to which a long heavy double silver chain is attached. The chain has at its other end a medallion plaque
decorated with silver filigree and turquoise. It is unusual for this chain to still be attached. It is particularly heavy and valuable for its weight in silver in its own
right.

Heavy belts such as these were worn with the central strap hanging down freely and with the chain attached to another part of the belt or dress. On important
occasions, long strands of pearls, coral and turquoise beads were attached to the wheel-like end of the central strap. These could loop down almost to the
ground and back up again where they were attached to the main garment somewhere near the shoulder.

There are minor losses to the filigree on the example here. All the turquoise is intact. It is in a fine and stable condition.

A belt of related form is illustrated in Casey Singer (1996, p. 142), and in Clarke (2004, p. 67).

References:
Casey Singer, J., Gold Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal, Thames & Hudson, 1996.
Clarke, J.,
Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.

Provenance:  UK art market

Inventory no.: 3314

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