Category Archives: Christies

Auctions: Pre-Columbian, Indian, and Islamic Jewelry

On 15 May 2015: African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art: Sotheby’s. Among the jewelry for sale is this large gold frog pendant (800 – 1500 AD) from the Coclé civilization of modern-day Panama. Starting bids: $50,000 to $70,000.

23 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: An 18th Century Armenian gemset and enamelled reliquary from the Ottoman Empire. “The pendant of ogival (pointed-arch) form with cusped edges, decorated in openwork with a pronounced cross with rosette centre and trefoil edges. On the back are vegetal motifs decorated with Christian imagery in gold reserved against deep blue or green ground.”

24 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: A gemset silver-gilt comb from North India, Late 19th- to early 20th Century. “The top openwork and decorated with confronted birds either side of a flower bud, foliage around them, with green, red and colourless gems.” Starting bids: $2000

24 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: Two hardstone and coral-inset pendants, Ottoman Turkey, 18th and 19th Century. “The first of circular form, set with a crescent-shaped green jade panel with silver knotwork with turquoise, red and green hardstones; the second silver-gilt, of palmette form, set with corral cut-in boteh-like and drop shapes, the borders with hanging coral beads, suspension loop on reverse; each on stand.” Starting bids: $2000 to $3000

24 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: A pair of enamelled gold earrings from Qajar Iran, 19th Century. “Each with an upper gadrooned shallow-domed section above a larger well rounded domed element above a lower bell-shaped pendant, the main central element with polychrome enamelled flowering sprays above a band of stylised floral motifs.” Starting bids: $1500 to $2000.

23 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: A Mughal gemset gold and enamelled turban ornament (sarpech), North India, 19th Century. “Of typical form with a central curved palmette rising from a central rosette, flanked by two smaller rosettes, the gold body is set with diamonds and other gems.” Starting Bids: $12,000 to $18,000.

Auction News: Ivory and Jade Bracelets

I love what age does to round things. Here are some bracelets up for auction.

At Christie’s are “two Jade Bracelets from Southeast China, Neolithic Period (3000 BC): Each a tapering, thick-walled ring, one Liangzhu culture, the stone of yellow and russet-brown color; the other of Liangzhu type, the stone of olive color with opaque areas of brown and ivory color, the outer wall slightly concave, both with satiny polish” Sale date: 19 March 2015

Sotheby’s is auctioning this marvellous bracelet from Cameroon. “In the grasslands, ivory bracelets were worn by members of the nobility in pageants. Here, the elegance of the shape is accentuated by the fullness of the button and the red-brown shades of patina.” Sale date: 11 December 2013

At Zemanek-Munster, please note lots 275, 512, 93, 96, and 180.

Lot 275: “Nigeria, Igbo | “ivory, shiny reddish brown patina, of oval form, natural grains.” Lot 512: “ivory, honey brown patina, of circular form, decorated with elaborate incised ornaments with inset metal tags | Provenance Hans Himmelheber, Heidelberg, Germany | Kegel-Konietzko, Hamburg, Germany.”

Lots 275 and 512

Lot 93: “Sudan | ivory, honey brown patina, white pigment remains, ring-shaped with flaring sides, circular engraving.” Lot 96: West Africa | “ivory, honey brown patina. The origin of such bare bracelets without decor can hardly be determined.” Lot 180: Côte d’Ivoire, Baule | “ivory, shiny patina, ring-shaped with flaring sides, min. dam., fine cracks through age; the origin of such bare bracelets without decor can hardly be determined. Among the Baule for example, it was a sign of wealth for a man to be able to offer such a bracelet to his “senior wife” when he married a second woman.”

Lots 93, 96, and 180

African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art November 17, 2006

Jewels of Ancient Nubia

5,000 Years of Chinese Jade: Featuring Selections from the National Museum of History, Taiwan, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Auctions: Hair Ornaments for Sale

There are some lovely pieces coming up for sale.

At Christie’s on 19 March 2015, the Chinese art work in the collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth goes on sale. Five pieces are worth noting.

This greenish-white Jade Phoenix-form ornament from the Yuan-Ming Dynasty (1279-1644) might have been based on an earlier Song Dynasty example, which resides in the Seattle Art Museum. “Carved as a phoenix in flight, the crest feathers and tail carved in openwork, pierced for attachment in various areas, with buff markings in the stone.”

For sale at Christie’s

Seattle Art Museum

This jadeite and pearl-embellished gold hair pin comes from the Late Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. The decorative top is shaped like a petal. At the top-center is a jadeite bat, from which descend six natural pearls. The back is marked 田元祖斤.

In the last part of the Stone Age, Yangshao culture (5000 – 3000 BC) emerged along the Yellow River in China. In black opaque jade, someone polished this hair pin, carving a slender ovoid at the head. “A similar black jade hair pin from Shaanxi province, dated Neolithic, Yangshao culture, is illustrated by Gu Fang in The Complete Collection of Unearthed Jades in China, Beijing, 2005, pl. 4.”

Atop this pale greenish-white jade hair pin from the Yuan-Ming Dynasty (1279-1644) is a phoenix. His head is raised, wings spread, and his tail feathers curve up on either side of his body.

I love this olive-green jade circular hair ornament. It is 2000 years old, Chinese, has convex sides, and “the semi-translucent stone has areas of ivory-colored opaque alteration at one rim.” However, the design is modern, minimalist, and elegant. I don’t think it’s easy to hand-carve a perfect circle in any age.

Bonham’s is selling the Lauren Bacall Collection on 31 March 2015. She has a Chokwe comb with a seated couple from the DR Congo. I would like guess Humphrey Bogart bought this for her when he was filming The African Queen in the Congo, in 1951. She would have kept something like this without telling anyone where it came from, and would smile every time she looked at it, because that’s what love is.

At Zemanek-Münster in Würzburg, Germany, two pieces interest me.

From 6 April 1994 to 16 July 1994, over 1 to 2 million Tutsis were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide. This comb is from the Tutsi of Rwanda. With an architecturally open design, a geometric pattern bordered in black paint delineates it from the tines. Tradition survived.

This Lega ivory anthropomorphic peg from the DR Congo would have belonged to a high-level “bwami” member. The ivory’s patina gives it multiple colors and power. Provenance: Jean-Marc Desaive, Soumagne, Belgium.

Finally, because I must, Sotheby’s is offering an Edwardian diamond and pearl tiara, “designed as an alternating series of floret motifs and knife-edge drops set with circular-cut diamonds and seed pearls.”


For more scholarly research, please check out our Resource Library and these books:

Africa: Women’s Art, Women’s Lives

The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty (Metropolitan Museum of Art)