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Chased Silver & Copper Ga’u Box set with a Coral Cabochon
Tibet
19th century

height: 11.7cm, width: 12.5cm

This ga'u box would have been women by both men and women. It is of square form, and has a chased frontal plate of solid silver. The sides and backing
plate are of silvered copper sheet.

Two pairs of lugs on either side allowed the box to be attached to a belt or to clothing.

The front plate is decorated on each side with the eight auspicious Buddhistic symbols of good fortune (a parasol, a lotus, a pair of fish, a treasure vase, a
conch shell, an endless knot, the banner of victory and a golden wheel). The top is decorated with a
triratna ('Three Jewels'), and the lower register fittingly is
decorated with a landscape of mountainous peaks.

The centre of the front plate is set with a large central coral cabochon in a raised silver box-setting and surmounted by a small silver floral stud.

The
ga'u is in excellent condition. The silvering to the sides and back is worn (as it should be).  Overall, it has obvious age and a fine patina.

Such
ga'us were worn by Tibetans on journeys as talismanic or protective devices. As well as containing a small clay image of a deity (a tsha-tsha), they often
contained an assortment of other items deemed to have protective value, including small pieces of paper inscribed with Tibetan mantras, small seashells and
so on.

References:
Beer, R., The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Serindia, 2004.
Proser, A., (ed.),
Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.

Provenance: UK art market

Inventory no.: 4129

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